Ljubljana Castle stands above the downtown of Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. Originally a Medieval fortress, probably built in the 11th century and rebuilt in the 12th century, it acquired its present outline with an almost complete overhaul in the 15th century, whereas the majority of the buildings date to the 16th and 17th centuries. At first a defense structure and since the first half of the 14th century the seat of the lords of Carniola, it was since the early 19th century used as a penitentiary, then in the first half of the 20th century as a residential complex and in the latest times as a tourist attraction and a major cultural venue.

Ancient history

According to archeological surveys, the area of the present castle has been settled continuously since 1200 BC, when the first settlements and later fortifications were built. The hill summit probably became a Roman army stronghold after fortifications were built in Illyrian and Celtic times.

Middle Ages

The first castle is believed to have been a wooden and stone fortification built in the 11th century. The oldest written mention of Ljubljana Castle probably dates to the second half of 1161.

Until 1144 the castle became property of the House of Sponheim. In 1256, Ljubljana Castle was mentioned in a document as the most important castle of the rulers of Carniola. In the late 1270, it was conquered by King Ottokar II of Bohemia. In 1278, after the defeat of Ottokar, it became property of Rudolph of Habsburg.

In the 15th century it was almost completely demolished and rebuilt with a complete wall and towers at the entrance, where a drawbridge was placed. A chapel was also built at that time. In the 16th and 17th centuries, other objects were gradually built. The castle's purpose was to defend the empire against Ottoman invasion as well as peasant revolt.

Modern period

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the castle became an arsenal. In 1797 the town of Ljubljana and the castle were occupied for the first time by the French army, and again in 1809. In the period of the Illyrian Provinces, the castle was used as barracks and a military hospital. In 1815, back in the Austrian Empire, it became a prison, which it remained until 1895, with a hiatus between 1848 and 1868, resuming that function during World War II. The castle's Viewing Tower dates to 1848; this was inhabited by a guard whose duty it was to fire cannons warning the city in case of fire or announcing important visitors or events.

Because it was not a home of a ruler or another important noble person and because a fortification in the area was no longer required, the castle started to lose its importance. The maintenance costs were too high so the castle began to crumble. In the 19th century, the castle was redesigned partially as a prison and partially as a military stronghold, making it less popular among the citizens. Several famous people were jailed in the castle, including the Italian revolutionary Silvio Pellico, the Hungarian Prime Minister Lajos Batthyany and the Slovene author Ivan Cankar.

In 1905, the castle was bought by Municipality of Ljubljana for 60,200 Kronen, on the explicit wish of the mayor, Ivan Hribar, who planned to establish a city museum in it. The plan was however not carried out. Instead, the city decided to settle poor families into it. The residents stayed there until 1963, when preparations for renovation of the castle began. The remains of the fortifications on Castle Hill were reworked in the 1930s a promenade called Šance, designed by the Slovenian architect Jože Plečnik.

Contemporary history

Extensive renovation works commenced in the late 1960s lasting more than 35 years. In the 1990s, the castle began to be used as a place for weddings and cultural events. In 1974, a monument by the sculptor Stojan Batič dedicated to the Slovene peasant revolts was erected in the vicinity of the castle. The funicular railway to the top of Castle Hill, was built in 2006 and began service on 28 December 2006.

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Details

Founded: 15th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Slovenia

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4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Katja Čemažar (9 months ago)
Obe of the best tourist attraction with a big tower. Popular place for weddings. In front of the castle, there is a nice walking area and everywhere around the views on the whole city.
Mikel Zubizarreta van Bochove (9 months ago)
The views from the top are quite nice. I don't know about the castle as I didn't go inside, but looks like it could be worth it. You can play Escape the castle, which sounds fun!
Paul Traver (9 months ago)
Loved our time in Ljubljana! The castle is one highlight in this beautiful city. One of the best hamburgers I've ever had was here in Ljubljana. My family enjoyed the tour of the castle, and the restaraunts around here are excellent too.
Daniela Baena (10 months ago)
Beautiful, historic castle. Great service. They have a "escape room" activity for kids/families. There is a restaurant and is really nice to just walk around and check the temporary collections and the old stories.
Anup Mallick (10 months ago)
It is an awesome place and must visit a place in Castle Hill above downtown Ljubljana. It is one of the oldest landmark of Ljubljana, Capital of Slovenia. you can enjoy great views from the top of the tower. Very good visibility on Ljubljana Old Town and astonishing place to photograph mountains.
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Wawel Hill – a Jurassic limestone rock, a dominant feature in the landscape of Kraków, have provided a safe haven for people who have settled here since the Paleolithic Age. It is supposed that the Slav people started living on Wawel hill as early as the 7th century. Early medieval legends tell stories about a dreadful dragon that lived in a cave on Wawel Hill, about his slayer Krakus, and about the latter’s daughter Wanda, who drowned herself in the Vistula rather than marry a German knight. Towards the end of the first millennium A.D Wawel began to play the role of the centre of political power.In the 9th century it became the principal fortified castrum of the Vislane tribe. The first historical ruler of Poland, Miesco I (c.965-992) of the Piast dynasty as well as his successors: Boleslas the Brave (992-1025) and Miesco II (1025-1034) chose Wawel Hill as one of their residences.

At that time Wawel became one of the main Polish centres of Christianity. The first early Romanesque and Romanesque sacral buildings were raised here, including a stone cathedral that was erected after the bishopric of Kraków was established in the year 1000.

During the reign of Casimir the Restorer (1034-1058) Wawel became a significant political and administrative centre for the Polish State. Casimir’s son, Boleslas the Bold (1058-1079) began the construction of a second Romanesque cathedral, which was finished by Boleslas the Wrymouth (1102-1138). In his last will of 1138, this prince divided Poland into districts, and provided that Kraków was to be the residence of the senior prince. In 1291 the city of Kraków along with Wawel Hill temporarily fell under the Czech rule, and Wenceslas II from the Premysl dynasty was crowned King of Poland in Wawel cathedral.

In 1306 the Duke of Kuyavia Ladislas the Short (1306-1333) entered Wawel and was crowned King of Poland in the Cathedral in 1320. It was the first historically recorded coronation of a Polish ruler on Wawel Hill. Around that time, at the initiative of Ladislas the Short, the construction of the third Gothic cathedral began, the castle was expanded and the old wooden and earthen fortifications were replaced by brick ones. The tomb of Ladislas the Short in the cathedral started a royal necropolis of Polish kings in Krakow.The last descendant of the Piast dynasty, Casimir the Great (1333-1370) brought Wawel to a state of unprecedented splendour. In 1364 the expanded gothic castle witnessed the marriage of Casimir’s granddaughter Elizabeth to Charles IV accompanied by a famous convention of kings and princes, subsequently entertained by a rich burgher Wierzynek. The accession to the throne in 1385 of Jadwiga from the Hungarian dynasty of Andegavens, and her marriage to a Lithuanian prince Ladislas Jagiello (1386-1434) started another era of prosperity for Wawel. The royal court employed local and western European artists and also Rus painters. During the reign of Casimir Jagiellon (1447-1492) the silhouette of the hill was enriched by three high brick towers: the Thieves’ Tower, the Sandomierz Tower and the Senatorial Tower. The first humanists in Poland and tutors to the king’s sons: historian Jan Długosz and an Italian by the name Filippo Buonacorsi (also known as Callimachus) worked there at that time.

The Italian Renaissance arrived at Wawel in the early 16th century. King Alexander (1501-1506) and his brother Sigismund I the Old (1506-1548) commissioned the construction of a new palace in place of the Gothic residence, with an impressive large courtyard with arcaded galleries which was completed about 1540. Sigismund’s patronage also left an indelible impression in the cathedral, where a family chapel was erected, known today as Sigismund’s Chapel - the work of Bartolomeo of Berrecci Florence, and through various foundations, one of which was that of a large bell, called the Sigismund to commemorate the king. Close artistic and cultural relations with Italy were strengthened in 1518 by the king’s marriage to Bona Sforza. Alongside Italian artists, German architects, wood workers, painters and metal smiths worked for the king. The last descendant of the Jagiellonian dynasty, Sigismund II Augustus (1548-1572), enriched the castle’s interiors with a magnificent collection of tapestries woven in Brussels. In the “Golden Age” of Polish culture Wawel became one of the main centres of humanism in Europe.

The reign of Sigismund III Waza (1587-1632) also made a strong impression on the history of Wawel. After a fire in the castle in 1595 the king rebuilt the burned wing of the building in the early Baroque style. The relocation of the royal court to Warsaw was the cause of a slow but nevertheless steady deterioration in the castle’s condition. The monarchs visited Kraków only occasionally. Restoration of the castle was undertaken during the reign of John III Sobieski, the Wettins and Stanislas Augustus to counteract neglect.

After Poland had lost its independence in 1795, the troops of partitioning nations, Russia, Prussia and Austria, subsequently occupied Wawel which finally passed into the hands of the Austrians. The new owners converted the castle and some of the secular buildings into a military hospital, and demolished some others, including churches. After the period of the Free City of Kraków (1815-1846) Wawel was once more annexed by Austria and turned into a citadel dominating the city. By the resolution passed by the Seym of Galicia in 1880, the castle was presented as a residence to the Emperor of Austria Franz Josef I. The Austrian troops left the hill between 1905-1911. At the turn of the 20th century a thorough restoration of the cathedral was conducted, and shortly afterwards a process of restoration of the royal castle began which lasted several decades.

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