22 best sights in Ljubljana
The capital of Slovenia is a clean city with gorgeous Italian-style architecture. Ljubljana is young, and in 2016 it was recognized as the European Green Capital. The city center is car-free and public transportation is low-emission.
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What to do in Ljubljana
For history, nature or art lovers, Ljubljana offers a visit to the Old Town with a perfect combination of Gothic, Baroque and Art Nouveau. Tivoli Park, a quiet green space in the center of the city, will be a good place to visit.
Young people and fans of alternative culture will love a visit to the eclectic Metelkova Place, with its painted buildings housing art galleries, underground clubs and other entertainment venues.
Families with children will enjoy the Ljubljana Zoo, local cuisine at the central market, and a boat ride on the Ljubljana River. There is also a museum of illusions and plenty of parks where you can walk around all day.
Art lovers will appreciate museums, art galleries and unique architecture of bridges and fountains of the Slovenian capital.
Fountains, bridges and squares
Almost all of Ljubljana’s major events take place in this space. The square with a rough triangular outline is at the intersection of a number of major road arteries. The square got its current appearance after an earthquake. Today it is surrounded by medieval houses and the Baroque Church of the Annunciation, which dates back to 1795.
The square is named after Frans Prešeren, a poet of the 19th century, whose “Zdravicka” became the national anthem of Slovenia. The monument to the poet is installed next to the Central Pharmacy – opposite the house of the unrequited love and Prešeren’s muse, Julija Primić.
On Prešeren Square, tourists are greeted by a group of three bridges decorated with stone balustrades and lanterns. The central bridge is the oldest and dates back to 1842. It was built for vehicular traffic. Two side bridges for pedestrians were built in 1930, designed by Jože Plečnik, the most revered architect of Ljubljana.
Also belonging to this project are the riverside terraces, framed by poplar trees, and the flower store, which connects with the Colonnade of the Central Market on the right bank.
Ljubljana’s Robb Fountain
Even if you’ve seen the original sculpture in the National Gallery, you should still take some time to see this replica of the fountain in front of City Hall, as it is a symbol of Ljubljana. There used to be a real fountain on the square, but in 2006 it was moved to the National Gallery and an exact replica was installed in front of the Town Hall.
It is the work of the prolific architect Francesco Robba, depicting three male figures pouring water from jugs. The figures represent the three rivers of the Carniola region: the Ljubljanica, the Sava and the Krka. The design, right down to the obelisk above the fountain, is borrowed from the Roman fountain of the Four Rivers in Piazza Navona.
Piazza della Repubblica
This austere communist-era piazza does not have the opulent architecture of the Presheren. It was laid out as a modern city center in the 1960s. Interestingly, during the construction of the square, the shopping arcade, and the parking lot, many of the Roman artifacts that now adorn the collection of the National Museum were discovered.
The monument to the 1975 revolution, the Slovenian parliament and the monolithic office buildings give the square an austere charm. And every winter a large ice rink is poured there for the citizens.
The bridge in Viennese art nouveau style was opened in 1901. Four statues of intimidating dragons – symbols of Ljubljana – stand guard at each corner of the bridge.
The realistic sculptures were designed by architect Juri Zaninovic and made of sheet copper in a factory in Vienna. At the beginning of the twentieth century the bridge was considered a technical achievement, as it was one of the first reinforced concrete bridges in Europe.
The central square was the site of several momentous events in Slovenia’s history. Its independence from Austria-Hungary was declared here in 1918. In 1945, Josip Broz Tito addressed the Slovenians from the balcony of the university building. Later, in 1988, the first free protest was held here, which again ended with the proclamation of independence.
The square itself dates back to 1821. It is surrounded on all sides by buildings and palaces, and in the center of it there is the Hvězda Park.
The majestic stone structure was built 900 years ago. Since then, the castle has been renovated many times, and in the 16th century it became a regional stronghold against the Ottoman invasion.
Visitors explore the main courtyard and watchtower with an observation deck from which there is a fantastic view of Ljubljana and the surrounding area. There is a café, night club, galleries and restaurant on the castle grounds. You can get to the castle walls on foot, by tourist train or by cable car.
St. Nicholas Cathedral
The monument of architecture was built in the 13th century, but has been reconstructed several times because of fires and war. The present baroque design of the temple was acquired in the 18th century. The magnificent dome appeared later, in the 1840s.
The Baroque masters Francesco Robba, the Groppelli brothers, Angelo Putti and Giulio Quaglio Jr. contributed to the creation of the interiors. They created frescoes, paintings and sculptures that adorned the rooms of the castle. Later came the amazing dome fresco painted by the Slovenian artist Matevže Langus. And the murals on the main doors depict the history of Slovenia.
Franciscan Church of the Annunciation
The early Baroque church has decorated Preseren Square since the mid 17th century. Its façade is painted pastel red, the symbol of the Franciscan order. The temple is decorated with spires, pilasters with Ionic capitals, niches and the statue of the Virgin Mary with the Child on the pediment.
The interior decoration is strikingly rich, despite the fact that the Baroque frescoes are cracked after the earthquake. The 18th-century altar was designed by Francesco Robba, the side chapel has a stone cross by Jože Plečnik, and the new ceiling frescoes were painted by the Impressionist painter Matěj Sternen as late as the 1930s.
The Skyscraper (Nebotičnik)
In 1933, this 13-story tower became the tallest building in the Balkans and was one of the top ten tall buildings in Europe. It was equipped with the latest technology of the time: it had air conditioning, high-speed elevators and a central heating system.
Now the tower offers the most complete view of Ljubljana, you can see the castle and Smarna Mountain in the north of the capital. A restaurant, cafe and nightclub are open on the 12th floor.
Ljubljana Town Hall
Ljubljana Town Hall was built in the 15th century and at the beginning of the 18th century it was reconstructed in Venetian Baroque style according to the design of Italian architect Carlo Martinuzzi.
In the lobby of the town hall hangs a plaque with the coat of arms of the city, and there are sculptures of Hercules and the Nemean Lion from 1600. The highlight of the main courtyard is the magnificent fountain with the image of Narcissus.
Entertainment, Nature and Parks
The park in the center of the capital stretches for almost two kilometers. It begins with elegant gardens and alleys, landscaped in 1813, and extends up the slope of Wilder Rye Hill, which is crossed by walking trails. At the bottom is the Chequin Mansion, which houses the Museum of Modern History.
The park also has a tropical greenhouse next to a picturesque pond, and the neoclassical Tivoli Castle, to which a straight, arrow-like promenade of Jakopic leads from the park’s eastern entrance.
The capital of Slovenia is situated on this river. The Ljubljanica carries its waters through underground karst caves and through the city center. On the Brega embankment on the left bank of the river, you can take a cruise boat for a walk on the Ljubljanica. This is the best way to appreciate the majestic urban design, architecture, Triple Bridge, arcade and colonnade on the busy riverfront.
If you walk through Tivoli Park to the lower slopes of Roznik Hill, you can reach the city zoo. It is surrounded by forest and meadows. Animals from around the world live here, but the emphasis is on preserving Slovenia’s wildlife.
In this unique region, the Alps meet the Pannonian Plain and the Mediterranean Sea. A total of 119 species of animals, birds and reptiles live in the zoo – there are more than 500 animals permanently on its territory.
The mountain is surrounded by a picturesque park that locals and visitors love to walk in. Smarna Mountain is more than 660 meters above sea level, but it is easy to get there by one of 15 hiking trails.
At the top, hikers are greeted by a restaurant and a baroque church built in the early 1700s. But the biggest reward for those who have climbed the mountain is the picturesque green Ljubljana at the foot of Rožnik and Castle Mountain.
Ljubljana Central Market
The building was designed by Jože Plečnik in the early 1930s. The market stands on the site of the old diocesan college for girls, which collapsed in an earthquake in 1895.
Now the beautiful building on the edge of Presheran Square is filled with herb, spice, and craft stalls. A little further away are bakeries, selling dried meat, dried fruit and nuts, dairy products, fresh fruit, vegetables and fish. The market is interesting not only for its architecture but also for its ineffable atmosphere.
National Gallery of Slovenia
In front of Tivoli Park is the main historical and art museum of Slovenia, which displays works from the Middle Ages to the 1900s. The museum is located in a Renaissance palace. Several galleries were added to the building in the 1990s and 2000s.
The museum’s collection includes more than 600 works, ranging from Gothic liturgical art to works by Italian Baroque artists and sculptors. A separate exposition is dedicated to Slovenian impressionists: Richard Jakopić, Ivan Grohar and Matija Jama.
There is also a glass dome under which the famous Ljubljana fountain Francesco Robba with three Carnioli rivers is located.
Shortly after independence, the former Austro-Hungarian army barracks on Metelkova Street was occupied by squatters to save the building from demolition.
This large space in the center of Ljubljana has become an autonomous center of alternative culture, not much different from Copenhagen’s famous Fritown Christiania. Here almost every wall is covered with graffiti and creative murals.
In the evenings, the building hosts concerts by bands and DJs popular with young people, and in the summer there are open-air alternative music festivals.
National Museum of Slovenia
The museum, dedicated to the history and culture of Slovenia, is located in two buildings. The main exposition is in Prešernova Street, and a new building for the applied arts department was opened in Metelkov Street.
The first building contains a fragment of a Neanderthal flute carved from a bear thigh bone 60,000 years ago, as well as ancient coins and everyday objects. The exhibits of the museum once helped establish that Ljubljana was the former Emona, a city of the Roman Empire.
The most interesting room in the museum is considered to be the lapidarium, with 200 painted stones on the first floor in a glass pavilion.
National Museum of Modern History
The twentieth century in Slovenia was an interesting stage in the country’s history. And the museum, located in the premises of the Chekin mansion, fully confirms this. The exposition tells about the First World War, the fractional interwar period, the Second World War, the Tito regime and Slovenian independence.
Each period contains authentic documents, uniforms, costumes, furniture, weapons, medals, archival photographs, farm implements, antique machinery and other evidence of the past.
Museum of Illusions
A townhouse in Congress Square is home to an unusual museum that draws the traveler into a world of illusions and makes one wonder about the honesty of one’s own eyes. Children love the illusions, but adults will spend at least an hour in the museum as well.
Guests go from room to room, in each of which something strange happens: in the antigravity room everything is floating in the air, in the whirlwind tunnel the walls are spinning around the visitor, and it’s difficult for him to keep his balance. Altogether there are 40 such “exhibits” of frivolous and educational themes.
House of architect Jože Plečnik
Jože Plečnik reconstructed Ljubljana during the interwar period. The architect’s influence on this city has been compared to that of Antoni Gaudi in Barcelona. Plečnik dreamed of turning Ljubljana into a modern version of ancient Athens.
The architect’s house and studio are located on Karunova Street, and a garden with a lapidary collection grows nearby. In the house the architect’s furniture, tools and sketches, household items are preserved. The museum tells about the buildings designed by Jože Plečnik in Ljubljana, and also reveals the architect’s unrealized plans.
Tivoli Park Lake Bled Lovers’ Bridge Bled Castle Triple Bridge Republic Square Town Hall Square Ljubljana University
This site contains Ljubljana sights – photos, descriptions and travel tips. The list is based on popular guidebooks and is presented by type, name and rating. Here you can find answers for what to see in Ljubljana, where to go and where to find popular and interesting places in Ljubljana.
Tivoli Park is the largest and most attractive park in Ljubljana. The park is 5 square kilometers in size and is located to the northwest of the city center. With its beauty and coziness the park attracts many residents of the capital and visiting tourists.
The park was founded in 1813, when the territory of Slovenia was under French occupation, so the park bears the French name. At the beginning of the twentieth century it was reconstructed.
In the park there is Tivoli palace, built in the XX century, which is surrounded by winding paths, colorful flowerbeds, sculptures and fountains. The palace served as the residence of the Bishop of Ljubljana. There are also playgrounds for children in the park.
Lake Bled, the depth of which reaches 31 m, 2 km length and 1 km width, was formed due to the work of Bohinj Glacier. The lake is fed by warm springs and freezes only in winter. In summer the water in the lake is heated to 26 degrees and stays warm until the fall. On the shore there is an equipped sandy beach, as well as opportunities for entertainment and recreation – golf, tennis and other sports.
The resort in Bled was established in 1856, but its popularity peaks in modern times. Every year several tens of thousands of tourists rest here. A picturesque island in the center of the lake adds special charm to the glacial lake. On the island there is an ancient chapel of the Assumption and a picturesque medieval castle, built in the early XI century. The restoration of the castle was recently completed, and now guided tours are available.
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Despite the small old center and the small river Ljubljanica the number of bridges in Ljubljana is impressive. Each of the bridges has its own extraordinary history and creates a wonderful atmosphere around. The modern Mesar bridge is made of glass and concrete. Fabulous figures of fauns are placed on the platform of the bridge. Traditionally, lovers leave small locks along the railing as talismans of fidelity.
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Bled Castle is located in a picturesque location on top of a 130-meter cliff, next to Bled Lake. The castle is one of the oldest in Slovenia, the first mention of it dates back to 1004, when the castle was still called Feldes.
The oldest part of the castle is the tower, built in Romanesque style. Throughout history, the tower was used for housing, defense and monitoring of the castle surroundings. Over time, new buildings were added to the tower, defensive walls and towers appeared.
At various times the castle served as a residence of monarchs and even as a headquarters of the German troops. Today, together with the drawbridge and the 16th century chapel it is a popular attraction and a beautiful viewing platform, with a view of the lake and surroundings.
The Triple Bridge
The Triple Bridge is a beautiful architectural feature of Ljubljana. It is a group of three bridges over the Ljubljanica River.
It consists of the old stone bridge from 1842 and two side bridges that were already completed in 1931, under the leadership of architect Joze Plečnik. Together they provide an elegant entrance into the so-called Old Town.
The main bridge is partly made of limestone and clay. The two remaining bridges are made of concrete.
In 1992, the Triple Bridge was renovated, and since 2007 all three bridges became part of the Ljubljana pedestrian area.
Coordinates : 46.05140300,14.50597800
Piazza della Repubblica
Republic Square is the largest square in Ljubljana, created in 1960-1981. It was designed by architect Edward Ravnikar.
This square has a huge, almost sacred significance for the locals, because it was here that the independence of the country was proclaimed, the national parliament is located here, and it is here that all state events are always held.
On the square “grew” skyscrapers, here is Parliament building with numerous sculptures and monuments, built restaurants, a stone maze, monuments, buildings of Ljubljana Bank office, department store Maxmarket.
The largest and most important monument located on the square is the Monument of the Revolution, built by Drago Tršar in 1975.
Coordinates : 46.05154000,14.49969000
Town Hall Square
Ljubljana is the capital and largest city of Slovenia. There are many architectural, historical and cultural attractions. One of them is the beautiful town hall and the square adjacent to it. Here are all the most remarkable buildings of the city, most of which were built in the classical baroque style. Especially beautiful square in the evening, when the lights are lit on each building, and create a delightful atmosphere here. Town Hall Square is the cultural center of the city, where various celebrations and festivities, such as Shrovetide, are often held.
After a day of sightseeing you can take a break in the park, which has comfortable benches. In 1999 the whole area of the town hall square was lined with decorative tiles, so it looks neat and expressive.
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University of Ljubljana
The University of Ljubljana is the oldest university in Slovenia with more than 65 thousand students.
It is also one of the largest universities in Europe, it has 22 faculties, 3 art academies and a college. In addition, the University has an astronomical geophysical observatory.
At present 3,500 professors and researchers work at the university, as well as 900 assistants and technical staff.
The University building was built and put into use in 1919 and is still in excellent condition.
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