The central square in Ljubljana is Prešeren Square (Prešernov trg).
It’s no exaggeration to say that Prešeren Sqaure is not only the centre of Ljubljana, but truly the spiritual centre of the Slovene nation – and more practically the defacto meeting point in the city. It is part of the old town’s pedestrian zone and a major meeting point, where festivals, Ljubljana carnival, concerts, sports, political, and protest events take place. It was renovated in 2007. To the south, across the Triple Bridge (Tromostovje), it is connected to Stritar Street (Stritarjeva ulica), which leads through a symbolic town gate formed by the Kresija Palace and Philip Mansion towards the city’s town hall at the foothills of the Castle Hill. At the eastern side of the square, a bronze statue of the Slovene national poet France Prešeren with a muse was placed in front of the Central Pharmacy. One of his poem, “A Toast”/ “Zdravljica” became the national anthem. The poet’s statue is symbolically faced by the statue of Julija Primic, his great love, mounted on the facade of a building located across the square, in the Wolfova ulica.
The Franciscan Church of the Annunciation is a Franciscan church; Its red colour is symbolic of the Franciscan monastic order. Since 2008, the church has been protected as a cultural monument of national significance of Slovenia. Built between 1646 and 1660 (the bell towers following later), it replaced an older church on the same site. The early-Baroque layout takes the form of a basilica with one nave and two rows of side-chapels. The Baroque main altar was executed by the sculptor Francesco Robba. Many of the original frescoes were ruined by the cracks in the ceiling caused by the Ljubljana earthquake in 1895. The new frescoes were painted in 1936 by the Slovene impressionist painter Matej Sternen.
The front facade of the church was built in the Baroque style in 1703–1706 and redesigned in the 19th century. It has two parts, featuring pilasters with the Ionic capitals in the lower part and pilasters with Corinthian capitals in the upper part. The sides of the upper part are decorated with volutes and at the top of the front facade stands the statue of Our Lady of Loretto, i.e. Madonna with Child. It has been made of beaten copper by Matej Schreiner upon a plan drawn by Franz Kurz and Thurn und Goldenstein. The faces and the hands were modelled by Franc Ksaver Zajec. The statue replaced an older wooden statue of a Black Madonna in 1858. The facade also has three niches with sculptures of God the Father above the main stone portal, and an angel and the Virgin Mary in the side niches, work by the Baroque sculptor Paolo Callalo. There is a stone entrance staircase in front of the church. The wooden door with reliefs of women’s heads dates to the 19th century.
Ljubljana Cathedral or St. Nicholas’s Cathedral (stolnica sv. Nikolaja), serves the Archdiocese of Ljubljana. Easily identifiable due to its green dome and twin towers, it is located at Cyril and Methodius Square named for Saints Cyril and Methodius by the nearby Ljubljana Central Market and Town Hall.
The site of the Cathedral was originally occupied by a three-nave Romanic church whose earliest mention dates back to 1262. After the fire of 1361 it was re-vaulted in the Gothic style. When the Ljubljana Diocese was established in 1461, the church underwent several alterations and additions. In 1469 it was burnt down, presumably by the Turks. Between 1701 and 1706, a new Baroque hall church with side chapels shaped in the form of the Latin cross was built to a design by the Jesuit architect Andrea Pozzo. As the church’s dome was only built in 1841, originally a fake dome was painted on the arch above the centre of the cross. The surviving Baroque interior decoration notably includes frescoes by Giulio Quaglio (painted in the periods 1703-1706 and 1721-1723), Angelo Putti’s statues of four bishops of Emona situated beneath the beams of the dome (1712-1713), Putti’s painting of Dean Janez Anton Dolničar (1715), who initiated the rebuilding of the church in 1701, Francesco Robba’s altar angels in the left part of the nave (1745-1750) and brothers Paolo and Giuseppe Groppelli’s altar angels in the right part of the nave (1711). A host of other works of art were added later. One of the more interesting is the dome fresco painted by Matevž Langus in 1844. The most outstanding 20th century additions include Tone Demšar’s main entrance door relief depicting the history of Slovenia, commissioned to mark the 1250th anniversary of Christianity in Slovenia, and Mirsad Begić’s side doors with portraits of bishops.
Only a tourist train leaves Prešeren Square every day, transporting tourists to Ljubljana Castle.
The castle of Ljubljana is just one of the castles in the city but certainly the biggest one and also the most visited. Built in the middle of the 15th century, today it is a popular tourist destination for locals and foreigners also. No wonder. It offers an outstanding view over the city, a romantic athmosphere and a place of numerous cultural events. Guided tours of the castle are conducted every day. The castle is depicted on the city’s coat of arms, along with a dragon on top.
When in 1335 the Habsburgs took over the area of today`s Slovenia, they demolished the fortress of the Spanheim family, which stood on the hill, and in the second half of the 15th century started building a new one that still stands today. At first it consisted of only walls, towers and wooden barracks but through centuries the castle got the shape that it has today. Its main purpose was to defend against Turkish invasions, which were the most frequent in the 15th and 16th century. Besides, peasant rebellions were not rare as well. In the 17th and 18th century the castle had the function of a military hospital and an arsenal. When in 1809 Napoleon brought freedom and cultural and national enlightment to the citizens of Ljubljana, the war with the Habsburgs broke out. During this war the Pipers tower was demolished and a new wooden one erected on the place of today`s stone one. After the French had left, the Habsburgs used the castle for jails. Several famous people were jailed in the castle, including the Italian revolutionary Silvio Pellico, the Hungarian Prime Minister Lajos Batthyany and the Slovene author Ivan Cankar. The jail period lasted until the end of the Second World War, when first Italians and after their capitulation Germans took over the management of the castle. Until 1963 ostracized citizens of Ljubljana lived on the castle in terrible conditions. In the 70s the renovation began and today the castle is a popular tourist destination for home and foreign visitors.
The castle Chapel of St. George, on the basis of a document of the year 1489 emitted by the emperor, was consecrated to St. George, St. Pancracio and the Empress Helena. The original entrance to the chapel was in the north; it was reached along thirteen steps and is in use to this day. The original Gothic chapel had openings in the ceiling, counted four gothic windows and a balcony from which the nobles listened to the Holy Mass. This construction was restored in Baroque style and in the year 1747 they added images of the shields of the governors.
Above the Chapel stands the panoramic tower….
….if you’re brave enough to climb the many, many steps inside, you’re awarded with a beautiful view over the castle courtyard, and the amazing view of the city…
Can you recognize some of the places I told you about…..from ground level?
We walked one morning through the east part of town, past more stunning buildings…
…..to have lunch in a very special place, enjoying some beautiful music…
…..before reaching the nice Tivoli Park, where we spent a lazy afternoon….
We had a great time in Ljubljana, and we highly recommend a visit there, history, magic places, good food and beers, and so very nice people….