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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrLjubljana Castle, a mighty medieval fortress, was originally constructed in the 12th century, but its present appearance dates from the 16th century. Its original purpose was to defend against invasion from the Turks, which were common in the 15th and 16th century.
During its early stages, it only consisted of walls, towers, and wooden barracks but slowly over the years, through extensions, renovations, and modifications it became what it is today. It has been a palace, prison, and barracks, but now it is a museum and a picturesque venue of numerous cultural events including concerts, theater performances, exhibitions, congresses and official receptions.
Ljubljana Castle enjoyed its brightest moment in 1905 when Ivan Hribar , the then Mayor of Ljubljana, bought it from the state on behalf of the city with the intention of transforming it into a cultural center. Complete renovation started in 1963 when the last of the castle's inhabitants left to live in the city.
A symbol of the Slovenian capital city is perched on top of a 376-meters-high Castle Hill. By the entrance there is Galerija Rustika, where you can buy or just admire products of Slovene traditional handcraft. Year round, an audiovisual show delves into the history of the city, including that of the castle.
Climb the clock tower for a superb view of the Old Town below and the magnificent Kamniške Alps to the north. Underneath the tower, in the corner of the courtyard, is the diminutive St. George’s Chapel. The chapel is one of the oldest parts of the castle. It was renovated in Baroque style and in 1747, was decorated with the coats of arms of over sixty rulers, including Herman and Ulrich of Celje, Henrik of Gorizia County, and Krištof Rauber, a bishop of Ljubljana.
In addition, Ljubljana Castle boasts two permanent exhibitions: Slovenian History which takes visitors from prehistory to the present and The Penitentiary which shows the history of Ljubljana Castle and its importance for the development of Ljubljana. The best reason to visit, though, is for the view overlooking Ljubljana.
The castle also houses two restaurants, Gostilna Na Gradu and Strelec. From June to mid-September, the castle is one of several venues for the Ljubljana Summer Festival. The castle is also well-known for its Medieval Day in the beginning of September, which should not be missed if you are in Ljubljana at that time.
What to See
Viewing TowerClimb to the top of the tower via a wrought-iron staircase and walk along the ramparts for beautiful views of the Old Town and the surrounding countryside. The castle's tower was built in 1848, and was the home of the guard whose duty was to shoot cannons to warn against fire and announce when important visitors and events are taking place in Ljubljana.
Virtual tourThe virtual walk along the castle’s grounds is an interesting presentation of the history of the Ljubljana Castle, its architectural development and archaeological discoveries through different periods of time. The 12-minute virtual tour is available in English, German, Italian, Croatian, Russian, French and Spanish.
Permanent Exhibition of Slovenian HistoryThe Permanent Exhibition of Slovenian History includes a fascinating section on the country’s struggles during World War II, and the ten-day war as it became independent from Yugoslavia in 1991. Guided tour of the exhibition is possible by prior arrangement.
Guided tour – The Time MachineThe ‘Time Machine’ will lead you on a guided tour through six decisive periods that have marked the history of the Ljubljana Castle and the development of the city. At each of the ‘time stations’, you will be met by a figure who will present his or her period.
VisitingIt’s free to visit the castle grounds, but you’ll have to pay to enter the Watchtower, the Chapel of St George and to see the worthwhile Virtual Tour. The Ljubljana Castle is open daily from 10:00 AM to 20:00 PM in the winter season and from 9:00 AM to 23:00 PM during the summer season. Regular guided tours of the castle take place from 1st June to 15th September at 10:00 AM and 16:00 PM.
Getting ThereThere are several ways to access the castle, with the easiest being a 70-meters-long funicular that leaves from Old Town on Vodnikov trg. You can also do it on foot and it’s a nice walk up there, with a variety of different paths, each taking about 10 -15 minutes. The most popular are the one leading from the Old Town's Stari trg and the one from the Central Market. The hill is fairly steep but the paths make the climb not too strenuous. If traveling by car all you need to do is follow the signs from the city center which lead you to Streliška street and from there, up to the hill.
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Author: Ayda. Last updated: Sep 15, 2014