Ljubljana Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Ljubljana

Ljubljana is the capital and heart of Slovenia. It is Slovenia's largest city and is the country's cultural and political center. Ljubljana has a long and storied history. A Roman settlement known as Emona once stood in the area. It was the capital of the ancient region of Carniola, which was part of the Habsburg Monarchy. After World War II, Ljubljana was part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Slovenia gained independence in 1991, and Ljubljana became its capital.

Several rivers run through Ljubljana, and the historical area is built around the Ljubljana River.

The Ljubljana Castle is the city's most well-known landmark. It sits on Castle Hill and overlooks the city. The castle was originally built in the 11th century and has undergone many additions and renovations.

As a river city, Ljubljana features several interesting bridges. Cobblers' Bridge was named after shoemakers who lived and worked on the bridge. A bridge has stood here for centuries. However, the current Cobblers' Bridge was built in the 1930s.

Dragon Bridge is a beautiful bridge and draws many visitors and photographers with its iconic dragon statues.

The Triple Bridge features an 1842 bridge and two newer bridges built to ease traffic. Visitors can walk down stairways to enjoy terraces along the Ljubljanica River.

Squares are a vital part of any city, and Ljubljana's squares do not disappoint. Enjoy cobblestone passageways in Old Square and visit the busy market in Vodnik Square. Congress Square has seen many historical events and features beautiful architecture.

Visitors can stroll the attractive Cankarjevo Riverside or walk through the peaceful Tivoli Park. Don't miss landmarks such as the Ljubljana Town Hall, the Ljubljana Cathedral, and the Franciscan Church with its iconic salmon-colored exterior.

Take this self-guided walking tour and enjoy Ljubljana's historic sights.
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Ljubljana Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Ljubljana Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Slovenia » Ljubljana (See other walking tours in Ljubljana)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 13
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.9 Km or 1.8 Miles
Author: Tom
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Ljubljanski Grad (Ljubljana Castle)
  • Old Square (Stari trg)
  • Cobblers' Bridge
  • Congress Square
  • Cankarjevo nabrežje (Cankarjevo Riverside)
  • Ljubljana Town Hall
  • Stolnica Svetega Nikolaja (Ljubljana Cathedral)
  • Vodnikov Trg (Vodnik Square)
  • Dragon Bridge
  • Franciscan Church
  • Prešeren Square
  • Tromostovje (Triple Bridge)
  • Tivoli Park
1
Ljubljanski Grad (Ljubljana Castle)

1) Ljubljanski Grad (Ljubljana Castle) (must see)

Ljubljana Castle is an imposing medieval structure on Castle Hill. Ljubljana Castle overlooks the town and is Ljubljana's most prominent landmark. The castle was originally constructed in the 11th and 12th centuries and has undergone many revisions, reconstructions, and additions throughout the centuries. The castle's present appearance developed in the 15th century. Most of the current structures were added in the 16th and 17th centuries.

The area around the castle has been settled since 1200 BC. It is thought that the Roman army built fortifications here. During the 13th century, the castle went through several owners. First, the rulers of Carniola owned the castle, then King Ottokar II of Bohemia captured the castle, and finally Rudolph of Habsburg won the castle in battle.

During the 15th century, a drawbridge and St. George's Chapel were added to the castle. The French Army occupied the castle in 1797 and 1809. The castle functioned as a prison, while Ljubljana was part of the Austrian Empire during the 1800s. It was again used as a prison during World War II. The viewing tower was built in 1848. A guard would fire cannons to warn the city of fire or to welcome important visitors.

Because fortification was no longer necessary and maintenance costs were high, the castle deteriorated in the 19th century. The castle was redesigned as a prison and stronghold. Several prominent people were jailed here, including Hungarian Prime Minister Lahos Batthyany, revolutionary Silvio Pellico, and author Ivan Cankar.

The Municipality of Ljubljana purchased the castle in 1905 and settled economically disadvantaged families in it. The families moved out in 1963 when the town began renovations. The castle is used for weddings and cultural events.

A monument to the Slovene peasant revolts of 1515 and 1573 was placed next to the castle in 1974.

The castle consists of many important buildings. The current bridge replaced the original wooden bridge in the 17th century. Archers' Tower was built in the 15th century. The interiors were decorated in the 1900s with painted motifs.

The panoramic terrace is located on the medieval defense wall. The castle's prison was extremely basic. Prisoners were lowered into an open-air pit and exposed to the elements. Several towers and the medieval Castle Chapel of St. George are additional important castle structures.
2
Old Square (Stari trg)

2) Old Square (Stari trg)

Old Square is the heart of Ljubljanski's old city. Old Square features several medieval houses, Baroque palaces, cobblestone passageways, and 19th-century storefronts. Many buildings here survived the 1895 earthquake and kept their original appearance.

Historian Johann Weikhard von Valvasor was born in the house at Old Square number 4. Around the square one can find a variety of cafes, restaurants, and stores located in historic buildings. The location represents the oldest part of town, and visitors will feel what life was like in medieval Ljubljanski.
3
Cobblers' Bridge

3) Cobblers' Bridge

The Cobblers' Bridge is also known as the Shoemakers' Bridge. A bridge has linked the two major areas of Ljubljanski for hundreds of years. The bridge connects Town Square and New Square. The original wooden bridge dated to the 13th century. During the Middle Ages, it was known as the Upper Bridge.

The original bridge had a butcher's shop on it, but the Emperor hated the smell and paid the butcher to relocate. Shoemakers moved into the shop, and the bridge became known as Cobblers' Bridge. The cobblers could live and work on the bridge and avoid paying town taxes, all while advertising to pedestrians crossing the bridge.

Cobblers' Bridge has been rebuilt over the centuries. A cast-iron bridge was built here in 1867 but was later relocated.

The current bridge is made of stone and was planned in 1931 with a unique design. It features short balusters. Taller pillars feature stone balls, while the two central pillars are shorter and support lamps. The bridge platform has a geometric pattern. A statue of Ivan Hribar, Ljubljanski's mayor from 1895-1907, stands next to the bridge.
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Congress Square

4) Congress Square

Congress Square was built on the site where a Capuchin monastery stood in medieval times. Congress Square was built in 1821 and was used in ceremonies for the Congress of Ljubljana. After the congress, the area was used as Star Park. The area was named Revolution Square during the communist era. Later, it was called Liberation Square before returning to the Congress Square name.

The square has been the site of several historical events. Leaders announced independence from Austria-Hungarian rule on October 29, 1918. This announcement created the State of Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs. Yugoslav Communist leader Josip Tito made a speech facing the square in 1945.

A demonstration in the square in June 1988 led to Slovenia's independence in 1991. U.S. President Bill Clinton visited Congress Square in 1999.

Many interesting buildings are located in the square. The Ursuline Church of the Holy Trinity was built during the 1700s in Baroque style. The Casino Building was built in 1837 in the Neoclassical style. The Slovenian Philharmonic building and the University of Ljubljana's rectorate are also located in the square.

Several renditions of a statue dedicated to Austrian field marshal Joseph Radetzky have stood in the square. The statue now stands in the National Museum.

Slovene architect Joze Plecnik renovated the square in the 1930s. He added a memorial to women who protested against the imprisonment of Slovene patriots. An anchor was placed in the square in 1954 to celebrate Slovenian unification. Several other landmarks stand in the square. Visitors will find a fountain designed by Boris Kobe, a replica of a Roman monument found in nearby ruins, and an 1830s bandstand.
5
Cankarjevo nabrežje (Cankarjevo Riverside)

5) Cankarjevo nabrežje (Cankarjevo Riverside) (must see)

Cafes, bars, and restaurants line this beautiful riverside walkway and provide pedestrians with outdoor seating. The street was once named the French Embankment after Emperor Franz I. It was renamed after writer Ivan Cankar in 1919.

The street is lovely at dusk as the city lights come on. Visitors can admire the gorgeous architecture of historic buildings and be tempted by the many attractive eateries.

Cankarjevo Riverside is popular with locals and visitors alike, and it is always busy with pedestrians. It's a great place to take pictures or sit at a cafe and immerse yourself in the local scene.

The area is so attractive that guests sit outside and enjoy the scene, aided by outdoor heaters and hot beverages in the winter.
6
Ljubljana Town Hall

6) Ljubljana Town Hall

Ljubljana Town Hall was originally built in the 15th century. An annex was added in the 1700s, giving the building its current appearance. The facade has a Venetian influence, as shown in the gable front, the three-part staircase, and the loggia. Visitors can climb the impressive steps and admire the Venetian-style arched balcony. The town hall also features a pediment with a clock tower.

A Gothic plaque with the original medieval coat of arms from the original town hall building is displayed in the vestibule. A 17th-century statue of Hercules with a lion is also on display in the town hall. This statue was part of the 17th century Hercules Fountain from Old Square. The Hercules statue replaced the monument to Yugoslavia's first king, Peter I. The statue of Peter I was removed by Italian troops during World War II.

A replica of the Narcissus Fountain is on display in the Town Hall's courtyard. Francesco Robba designed the fountain, which originally stood in Bokalce Castle. The Narcissus Fountain features three river gods who represent Slovenia's major rivers.

The courtyard features arches with intricate designs. In addition, a variety of statues are on display in the courtyard's niches.

Visitors can tour the wedding hall, the banquet hall, and the Grand Council Chamber. Ljubljana's famous mayor from 1896 and 1910, Ivan Hribar, is commemorated in a monument next to the staircase.

There are four exhibition spaces in the town hall, including the Glass Atrium, the Central Atrium, the Right Atrium, and the Historical Atrium. Exhibitions are organized by the city and include local and international art exhibitions.
7
Stolnica Svetega Nikolaja (Ljubljana Cathedral)

7) Stolnica Svetega Nikolaja (Ljubljana Cathedral) (must see)

This location has hosted a church since the 13th century. The original church was built in the Romanesque style. Ljubljana Cathedral was refurbished several times before it was destroyed by fire in 1469.

A new Baroque cathedral was designed and completed in 1706. The cathedral features an octagonal dome and two belfries. One of the tower's bells dates to 1326. The gable between the belfries was built in 1989 to replace the original Baroque gable destroyed in an 1895 earthquake.

The cathedral's facade features various statues of bishops and saints. Niches feature Baroque frescoes. Visitors will find a sundial on the southern side.

Bronze entrance doors were created to celebrate Pope John Paul II's visit in 1996. The front door is known as the Slovene Door and features a relief created to celebrate 1,250 years of Christianity in the area. The side door is known as the Ljubljana Door and is decorated with portraits of 20th century Ljubljana bishops.

The cathedral's interior features original Baroque frescoes. The right-hand side altar angels were created by brothers Paolo and Giuseppe Groppelli. Francesco Robba created the angels on the left of the altar. Statues of the four bishops of Emona, the original Roman settlement, are seated under the dome beam.
8
Vodnikov Trg (Vodnik Square)

8) Vodnikov Trg (Vodnik Square)

Vodnik Square was named after Valentin Vodnik, an influential Slovene priest, poet, and journalist. In 1889, Slovenian artist Alojzij Gangi created an imposing bronze statue of Vodnik overlooking the square.

The square was home to a monastery with a girls' college. Unfortunately, the 1895 earthquake destroyed the buildings.

Vodnik Square now hosts a busy fruit and vegetable market. Visitors can also find crafts, gifts, and flowers in the market. Butchers and fishmongers sell their goods in the colonnades. In addition, food trucks are usually on hand to offer freshly prepared and ready-to-eat meals and snacks.

Architect Plecnik designed the attractive riverside colonnade that houses the interior parts of the market. The colonnade is known as Ljubljana Central Market or Plečnik's Market. The market is two stories high. Two open-columned loggias provide views of the river.

From the square, visitors can find a path leading to Castle Hill.
9
Dragon Bridge

9) Dragon Bridge (must see)

Dragon Bridge crosses the Ljubljanica River. The current concrete bridge was completed in 1901 and replaced an oak bridge damaged by the 1895 earthquake. The bridge was one of the first reinforced concrete bridges built in Europe and was Slovenia's first asphalt-paved bridge. Dragon Bridge was originally called Jubille Bridge and dedicated to Franz Joseph I, who ruled the area from 1848 to 1888.

The triple-hinged arched Dragon Bridge is thought to be the most beautiful Vienna Secession style bridge. The bridge features four imposing sheet-copper dragon statues, which are the city's most well-known landmarks. The bridge also features 16 smaller dragon statues. The dragons represent the famous legend of Jason and the Argonauts. In the legend, Jason killed a dragon and founded Ljubljana.

The bridge also features parapet lamps, which were originally gas-powered. Today, the bridge is a popular spot for photos.
10
Franciscan Church

10) Franciscan Church

The Franciscan Church was completed in 1660 by the Augustinians and replaced an older church. The church features early-Baroque architecture. After the Franciscans took over the church, it was painted red--the Franciscan monastic order's symbolic color. Over the years, the color faded to salmon pink. The locals preferred the pink color, and the church has stayed this attractive and unique color ever since.

Influential sculptor Francesco Robba created the Baroque style main altar. A glass coffin near the altar houses the remains of Saint Deodatus.

The original frescoes were damaged in the 1895 earthquake. Slovene painter Matej Sternen painted the new frescoes in 1936. A chapel features a cross crafted by architect Joze Plecnik.

The front facade was created in 1706 and then redesigned in the 19th century. The upper part of the facade features pilasters with Corinthian capitals. The lower part features pilasters with Ionic capitals.

An impressive statue of Our Lady of Loretto, or Madonna with Child, stands at the top of the front facade. The statue was crafted from beaten copper and is Ljubljana's largest Madonna statue. Three niches in the facade feature sculptures representing God the Father, an angel, and the Virgin Mary.
11
Prešeren Square

11) Prešeren Square (must see)

Prešeren Square is known as a meeting place for festivals, sporting events, concerts, and political events. The square was originally known as St. Mary's Square and developed after the Franciscan Church was built in the 17th century. After the 1895 earthquake, architect Max Fabiani designed the square as a hub. Newly built palaces replaced the medieval houses that were destroyed by the earthquake.

Landmark palaces include the 1873 Hauptmann House, which was renovated in Secessentionist style in 1904. The Mayer department store, Urbanc House, Seunig House, and Frisch House are other important buildings in the square.

The square's circular design and granite block pavement were added in the 1980s. The square is now pedestrian-only.

The square is named after Slovene national poet France Prešeren. The influential poet lived in Ljubljana in the 1800s, wrote in Slovenian, and is considered one of Europe's great Romantic poets. A bronze statue featuring Prešeren with the muse of poetry is located in the square. The Prešeren statue faces a statue of his love, Julija Primic, mounted on a building across the square. Three birches were planted behind the monument to indicate Ljubljana's energy center.

A bronze scale model of Ljubljana was added to the square in 1991. The square is also now home to many cafes and restaurants.

Why You Should Visit

Prešeren Square is the most important and visited square in Ljubljana. This vital square features beautiful architecture and a central meeting point for visitors and locals alike.

Tips

This is a beautiful place to take photos and listen to street musicians. Visit at dusk to get a magical perspective of this vibrant city.
12
Tromostovje (Triple Bridge)

12) Tromostovje (Triple Bridge) (must see)

The Triple Bridge is a group of three bridges that cross the Ljubljana River. The bridge connects the historical city to the modern city.

A bridge has been at this location since 1280. The bridge was first called Old Bridge, then Lower Bridge. It was also known as Spital Bridge. In 1842, a new bridge was designed and named Franz's Bridge. This bridge featured two arches and a metal fence.

Slovenia was part of Austro-Hungarian Empire when the new bridge was built. The inscription dedicating the bridge to Archduke Franz Karl of Austria can still be seen. Archduke Franz Karl was the father of two emperors: Franz Joseph I of Austria and Maximilian I of Mexico.

In 1929, architect Jože Plečnik designed two footbridges to ease congestion on the 1842 stone bridge. The original bridge handled both vehicle traffic as well as pedestrian traffic. The two additional bridges were completed in 1932 and were designed to handle pedestrian traffic, leaving the middle bridge for vehicles. In addition, the metal fencing on the original bridge was removed, and massive stone balustrades and lamps were added to each bridge.

All three bridges have been pedestrian-only since 2007. Today, visitors and locals alike frequently use these beautiful bridges. Stairways on either side of the bridge lead visitors to the terraces along the Ljubljanica River. The stairways resemble Venetian bridges and bring a Mediterranean flair to Ljubljanica.
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Tivoli Park

13) Tivoli Park (must see)

Tivoli Park is a beautiful, large park in Ljubljana's city center. French engineer Jean Blanchard designed the park in 1813. Blanchard joined several existing parks to create Tivoli Park, which covers about five square kilometers. Three tree-lined walks cross the park. Landscaping throughout the park includes flower beds, beautiful trees, fountains, and statues.

The Jakopic Promenade is in the center of Tivoli Park. Jakopic Promenade was designed by architect Jože Plečnik. This attractive space often hosts large-format photo exhibitions.

Walking trails will take visitors past several interesting landmarks. Tivoli Castle was built in the 17th century and renovated in the 19th century to represent the Neoclassical style. Four cast-iron dogs stand in front of the mansion. The castle features a reconstruction of a Baroque fountain.

The Cekin Mansion is located on the northern edge of the park. The mansion was built in 1720 and is now home to the Museum of Contemporary History of Slovenia.

Tivoli Hall opened in 1965 and is home to two indoor sports arenas.

Tivoli Pond is a good spot for reflection. A nearby library operates outdoors in the summer and inside the greenhouse in the winter. The attractive greenhouse is operated by the Ljubljanica Botanical Gardens and is home to a variety of tropical plants. This area is also home to a rose garden.

There are several sculptures in the park. Visitors will find a bronze sculpture depicting a boy with a whistle. In 2000, Bosnia sculptor created the unique Coexistence sculpture. This sculpture was created with a downed 300-year-old oak tree and bronze work covered with moss and lichen. Finally, visitors will find a bronze statue representing poet Edvard Kocbek.

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Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles