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

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4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Ermin Puric (2 months ago)
A Contemporary Castle With a Rich History On the green hill in the middle of the city, behind ancient walls, is a rich world of historical, cultural and other entertaining content. Whenever you want to get closer to the sun, or when you need a different view of the world, food for your soul or a delicious meal, it is a good time to climb to the Ljubljana Castle. A Unique View of Ljubljana A Contemporary Castle With a Rich History On the green hill in the middle of the city, behind ancient walls, is a rich world of historical, cultural and other entertaining content. Whenever you want to get closer to the sun, or when you need a different view of the world, food for your soul or a delicious meal, it is a good time to climb to the Ljubljana Castle. The Wisdom of Castle Wine Are you a lover of wine, castle history and nature walks above the city? Then an interactive walk through the Castle Hill with a mobile app is perfect for you. Set out on the Castle Wine Trail and try to discover the wine wisdom protected by the master vintner Urban, the patron of castle wine. At the end of the walk, a glass of selected Slovenian wine or juice with a view of the most beautiful city awaits you in the Castle Wine Bar and Shop. Cheers! Escape Castle Are you ready for an original castle adventure? A great opportunity to socialise with your friends or colleagues in the picturesque surroundings of the Ljubljana Castle. Set out on the mission of saving the famous dragon – with a bit of knowledge, luck and cunning you will surely find him. It will be great fun!
Nicholas Ringo (3 months ago)
Neat castle. The renovations take away a little from it, in my opinion. Most of it can be viewed for free, but do have to pay for the tower. Has a restaurant and gift shop Beautiful views of the city. Definitely worth the five minute walk up the hill.
Andrei Kovalev (9 months ago)
Review 23755… great castle but to far away
Primož Centa (10 months ago)
Lacks parking spaces or some signaling when parking is full in case of bigger events.
Natasa Zidaric (10 months ago)
Ljubljana castle - a sight to remember. Offering a wonderful view of the Slovenia's capital, Ljubljana castle is worth visiting not only for its many amazing views, but also for catching a glimpse of its historical importance. Renovated with great infrastructure (restaurant!), with detailed descriptions of the castle's architecture as well as its stories, the castle offers much more than a tick as just another sightseeing 'point'. It has a lot to offer to an 'average' tourist as well as to people of different profiles (gallery, summer film screenings, children's illustrations exhibit)
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