Ljubljana Castle (Ljubljanski grad) sits on top of Castle Hill, dominating the Ljubljana skyline. The castle is on the site of a medieval fortress dating back to the 11th century. A number of fortifications existed on this strategic hill, constantly changing hands until the bulk of the current Castle was built from the 15th century onwards.
The castle played a key strategic role for the Hapsburgs defending their empire from Ottoman invasion ( many towns in Southern Slovenia, like Vipavski Križ and Kostanjevica na Krki, were completely destroyed by incursions of the Ottoman Army). At the same time it also played a useful role as a defensive position from revolt by the slovenian subjects, as in 1515 during the Slovene Peasant Revolt
The castle served as a barracks and prison for Napoleonic troops, briefly, between 1809 and 1813 when Ljubljana became the administrative capital of the newly constituted Illyrian provinces. Even after the retreat of Napoleon’s troops the castle continued to be used as a prison, right up until the end of the Second World War.
For a period, from the 1960s onwards, the castle was used for local housing flats, until finally in 2011, after major rennovations and restruturing, the Castle was opened to the public as one of Ljubljana’s central tourist and cultural attractions. It contains a number of museums (the museum of puppetry and the Permanent Exhibition of Slovenian History), and is used as a venue for concerts, open air events and even weddings.
Ljubljana castle and funicular:
– january, february, march and november: 10.00 – 20.00
– april, may and october: 9.00 – 21.00
– june, july, august and september: 9.00 – 23.00
– december: 10.00 – 22.00
Information centre, Virtual castle, permanent exhibition of Slovenian history, The Penitentiary, The Chapel, Viewing Tower, Museum of Puppetry:
– january, february, march and november: 10.00 – 18.00
– april, may and october: 9.00 – 20.00
– june, july, august and september: 9.00 – 21.00
– december: 10.00 – 19.00
A beautifully designed, modern, funicular (cable car) railway runs from Krek Square opposite the Ljubljana Central Market up to Ljubljana Castle. Designed in 2005, by Miha Kerin and Majda Kregar of the Ambient design studio, the Ljubljana Castle Funicular runs every 10 minutes, bringing visitors up to the castle, in a journey that takes roughly one minute but offers superb views of Ljubljana city. Return tickets for adults cost rougly €4, and there are special combined tickets that can be used for guided tours of the castle (enquire at the station).
There is a special guided tour of the castle, ‘the Time Machine’ which involves six time stations, six costumed characters and a fun trip throught time.
Guided tour times
– july, august and september: daily at 11.00, 13.00, 15.00, 17.00
– may, june: daily ob 11.00, 15.00
– january, february, march, april, october, november and december: saturdays and sundays at 11.00, 15.00
(Photo Source: www.slovenia.info; Photographer: E.Kase)