It’s finally the time to introduce a new country into my repertoire. Even though Slovenia is a neighbor country of mine, I haven’t done much culture travel in that country. During my recent visit to Ljubljana, I managed to visit three places, first of them being the Ljubljana Castle.
Ljubljana is a compact city. With just a bit above 200 000 inhabitants, everything around the historical center is accessible on an almost-walking distance. Therefore the big Castle on hill dominates the City’s skyline and panorama.
Beautiful buildings, parks, and a nice atmosphere, cool bars, and restaurants, all these “elements” make the city quite enjoyable. I made this visit to Ljubljana in February 2018, and luckily it was a genuine winter experience, with cold and snow.
On the picture: A foggy winter morning in Ljubljana, with a blurry view over the Castle
See also: A snowy open-air Gallery of Fantasy
How to visit the Ljubljana Castle?
As it’s quite easy to see on the pictures, the Castle is located high on the hill. It’s easy to get there by funicular – the trip takes less than 3 minutes. Before going up, plan to stay at least an hour, because the whole complex is quite large and interesting to explore. You will really not want to be rushing from one side to another.
Another interesting aspect is that, in spite of its historical/medieval architecture, the Castle is quite accessible to all kind of disabilities.
Although I’m not a big fan of audioguides, I opted to get one for this visit. It costs 2 euros extra. As the whole complex consists of a variety of elements and little details, the audio guide helped me understand the history and context, while the storytelling is pretty fun. I can say I enjoyed it. These audio guides are available in many languages, including, for instance, Chinese and Portuguese. Also, I must say that the museum’s staff is extremely nice.
There is a beautiful cafeteria in the courtyard. A recommended place for a coffee break, I say. They also serve tasty chocolate and fruit cakes.
See also: How to visit a Museum?
Between the lively city and the inner world
On the picture: View from the Castle’s tallest tower
There is an infinite number of medium-sized European cities that have some kind of Castles on the Hill, or at least ruins, serving as viewing points. The case of Ljubljana is that more exciting as it offers way more thing to explore and enjoy than the average castle-viewpoint.
Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia. Slovenia is one of the smallest countries in Europe, counting about two million inhabitants. Surprisingly, the population density is balanced throughout the country’s territory, while only about 280 000 inhabitants, or a bit more than 10% of the country’s population lives in Ljubljana.
I usually say that museums give us answers to questions we may not have a clear idea that we might have. Most people visit Slovenia to see the beautiful nature, mostly mountain landscapes. They also visit the country to enjoy some of many thermal resorts, or to try great food. Maybe many of travelers in Slovenia will not ask questions about the country’s history.
However, while enjoying the clear views from the Ljubljana Castle, you will have a unique opportunity to discover it, thanks to the small and comprehensive storytelling of the Permanent Exhibition of Slovenian History.
On the picture: Inside the Permanent Exhibition of Slovenian History. Notice that many items in this exhibition area are some kind of replicas and it’s allowed to touch them. It makes the gallery accessible to visually impaired people.
Apart from the clear historical facts, there is another way to feel the spirit of the country. There is something called Museum of Puppetry. Believe or not, the puppetry art has been popular in Slovenia for over a century.
I’m not very knowledgeable about this art, but still, I think it’s a fun thing, and another way to understand a place and a culture.
During some part of its history, the Ljubljana Castle was a prison. A part of the contemporary visitable area preserves that time – you can see how the chambers looked like.
For instance, there is an exhibition of prison’s gates, and there is a collection of buttons prisoners had to make during their days of the sentence.
See also: 7 Museums to visit in Zagreb
Getting around the outdoor area
Apart from the “classical” prison, there was something called “outdoor prison”, and there is a vine above that (picture below). The concept is a bit unclear, but you can hear about if you get an audioguide. Anyway, the rest of the experience is all about freedom and not prisons.
Apart from the big tower, there is a number of ways and smaller viewing points around the Castle, and the courtyard offers a lot of fun. There is a multimedia center with beautiful visualizations of the ancient settlement that existed on the place where today we enjoy the Ljubljana Castle.
I will write another article about visiting and enjoying Ljubljana in the winter, and while this winter is coming to its end, maybe your next winter plans for a Central Europe may include Ljubljana as one of the most affordable, accessible, and generally beautiful cities.