City castle in Ljubljana
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.
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. 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.
You will be surprised to find out that you don`t have to pay anything to enter the castle courtyard, where you can relax by a cup of coffee, glass of wine or a piece of cake. You can visit numerous art exhibitions, which take place in different parts of the castle and are usually for free as well. By the entrance there is Galerija Rustika, where you can buy or just admire high quality products of Slovene traditional handcraft. On the other side of the castle there`s a chapel and a viewing tower together with Virtual Castle, where you can see a documentary about the history of the castle in Slovene, English, German, French, Spanish, Russian, Croatian and Italian. On the left side of the castle chapel you will also find an exelent Museum of Slovene History and a restaurant serving traditional Slovene food.
Follow what`s happening at the castle in the evening. You might find a nice concert, a theatre show or an open air cinema of non-commercial movies in the summer time. If you`re there on the start of September, don’t miss the medieval day, which takes place on the courtyard and around the castle. To find out what`s on, visit Info Center of the castle. Finding yourself madly in love you may consider getting married in the beautiful environment of the castle. Weddings take place every Wed and Sat. Certain halls are available for rental.
During the peak season (from June to Sept) there are regular guided tours every day:
- from 1.6. to 30.6.: 10.00, 16.00
- from 1.7. to 31.8.: 10.00, 11.30, 18.00, 20.00
- from 1.9. to 30.9.: 10.30, 12.00, 16.00, 20.00
From the end of Sept guided tours are not conducted except if arranged in advance. Tours are available in Slovene, English, German, French, Italian, Spanish and Serbian or Croatian. One tour lasts approx. an hour and 15 min but duration is negotiable.
Plans and renovation
The renovation plan was accepted in the 70s. Since the 80s the renovation has been conducted and new plans and projects are still being incorporated. Thanks to the funicular, the main road to the castle is planed to be closed and a parking lot eliminated. The park surrounding the castle is finally going to be managed by the ideas of Joze Plecnik, the greatest Slovene architect. According to the renovation plans, under the courtyard there’s going to be a restaurant and a winery, and above it an old defense corridor running around the castle, which is now separated, will finally be connected.
- On foot: There are many pathways leading up the hill, 10 min walking max. The most popular is the one leading from the old town`s Stari trg (Old square) or the one from the Central market. Which ever you take, from which ever side, do not worry, you cannot get lost. They all lead to the castle.
- By car: Despite the nice wide road, drop the idea of coming up there by car. First of all, because a 10-minute walk on a beautiful day is a perfect opportunity to contemplate the beautiful surroundings; and second of all, cause since the end of 2006 the funicular has been running up the hill. For now the road remains open but parking is officially forbidden. If you decide anyway, take the risk of getting a fine. Follow signs from the city centre leading you to Streliska street and from there you can`t miss the only road leading up the hill. Due to wedding ceremonies held on Wednesdays and Saturdays and numerous events throughout the whole year, you may consider leaving your car along the road or under the hill on Streliska street, where unfortunately the parking is not free except for Saturdays from 1 p.m. and Sundays during the whole day.
- By tourist train: Always starting its way every full hour from the Stritar street, and leaving the castle every 20 minutes past full hour. In the peak season it runs from early morning till 9 p.m. Off the season it depends on the weather and occurrence of tourists.
- By funicular: The funicular, running since Dec 2006, has the starting point on Krekov trg by the Ljubljana Puppet Theatre. Running every 10 min or constantly if crowded, every day in compliance with the opening hours of the castle.
Castle and funicular:
1. Oct – 30. Apr from 10 am to 9 pm
1. May – 30. Sept from 9 am to 11 pm
Viewing tower and Virtual castle:
1. Oct – 30. Apr from 10 am to 6 pm
1. May – 30. Sept from 9 am to 9 pm