12 Top Tourist Attractions in Ljubljana, Slovenia

Martina Rosado
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Gornji Trg

The Gornji trg (upper market) remains one of Ljubljana’s best known squares. At the end of the 19th century, the square was filled with butchers, street traders and stalls selling fresh produce.

Nowadays, the square is dominated by the ŠKART cinema and a number of restaurants. To the left of the ŠKART cinema stands a statue of the Slovenian national poet France Prešeren.

Curving uphill to the top of the square is a pretty gothic fountain, erected in 1909. At the bottom of the hill is the pretty Church of St Nicholas, dating from the second half of the 15th century, which was built in the place of the former Great Cathedral.

The square leads you to the Church of St Nicholas, the Gornji trg square and the main entrance to Ljubljana’s historic old town, in the heart of the city.

History of Ljubljana's City Centre

The city centre of Ljubljana is strategically located on the left bank of the Ljubljanica River, at the confluence with the river Soteska and the urban use of Soteska to the north.

Franciscan Church

One of the most impressive sights around the center of Ljubljana is the Franciscan Church of the Assumption in Otocec. It was built between 1744 and 1751 as a baroque and its main attraction is the elaborate interior. The church is decorated with an impressive baroque altar with altars and a multi-colored dome decorated with decorative paintings.

The large main altar is dedicated to Mary, mother of Jesus who is represented as a statue. The church also contains many precious artworks dating from the late 17th and early 18th century and paintings of the four evangelists.

Albertov Square

In the heart of Ljubljana stands Albertov Square. This square is named after the poet Alojz Ivančič Alberti who was buried in the Franciscan church on the square.

This square faces the church and is surrounded by attractive historical buildings such as post office from 1899 and small neoclassical building. The square is dominated by the Franciscan church mentioned above that was designed by the architect Anton Zemlinsky. The building is a stucco one with an unusual shape and is used as an art gallery.

Central Market

The central market has been the site for commerce and trade since the founding of the city itself. The market is a busy and colorful place, in a city known for both its art and cuisine.

The original location of the market was in the city’s Upper Town, where it remained from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century. The current market is still in the center of the city, but it has been rebuilt and renovated multiple times over the years.

Though the market has had its share of renovations over the years, and there are sections of it that have been added or removed, the current architecture is still a cultural hub for the city.

The market is a collection of many different shops, including shops for tourists, fruit stands, coffeehouses, and clothing stores. The bounty of fresh food is readily available, as well as a wide variety of products for tourists to try out and take home with them.

It’s also a great place to grab a coffee and a snack in the morning, or a late night snack and drink late at night. Street performers also add to the festive atmosphere of the market square during the summer months.

Metelkova

Metelkova is a place where artists, street performers or teachers demonstrate their talents for tourists.

The center is situated at the former industrial area of Metelkova with renovated lofts for living.

The center is divided in such a way, it is open for groups, schools, children and adults.

This is how it looks like in the center:

Metelkova is the best place to play, to cook and to eat. The center carries out cultural, educational and community projects. You will find lots of young people in the center, sipping some cool drinks, playing with a ball on the street, or drawing an unusual portrait with a mirror and a bottle of alcohol.

Everyone can find something for themselves here. So, is Metelkova a cultural center or a cool bar? It is both – a place of fun and a good spot to get a bite.

Spomen Park

The castle is located on the hill of castle hill and was constructed by the duke Jurij in the 13th century.

The castle is a historical place, where many important people lived at the time.

Dragon Bridge

Dragon Bridge was built by the Romans, and today you can see the remnants of the statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius in the northern nook of the bridge. The dragon kings were a Celtic tribe based in what is now present-day Slovenia.

As the first bridge over the Ljubljanica River, the Dragon Bridge was rebuilt several times over the centuries, most notably by the Habsburg rulers of the Austrian Empire, who constructed the current bridge in the 19th century.

As you approach the bridge, you will see a statue of an eagle on the left; this is the symbol of the Ljubljana region and can be found on the coat of arms of the Municipality of Ljubljana.

On the right, there is a sculpture by the Slovene artist Matjaž Jelovšek depicting the goddess of nature, Diana, and a small group of young forest dwellers.

As you walk across the central stairs, you will come to the base of a statue dedicated to the memory of Josip Broz Tito.

For years, this sculpture stood beside the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and was only returned to its original location after the EBRD moved out.

Cathedral of St. Nicholas

In the historic old city of Ljubljana, built in the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, there is a church that stands guard at the eastern end of Ljubljanica River. The church was built in the late 15th century and is now a part of the UNESCO Ljubljana World Heritage program.

The Cathedral of Saint Nicholas is usually called the Jesuit Collegium and was the seat of the Jesuits in Slovenia for centuries … from the 1580s to the mid-17th century. The Jesuits were expelled from the country as a result of the wars unleashed by the Counter-Reformation.

In 1622, under the command of general Samobor, the building was set on fire and burnt to the ground. Even though the structure was destroyed, the church was rebuilt soon afterwards. However, this building was also destroyed in the early decades of the 18th century.

Union Experience

The Union of the Slovenian literary Societys’ Building (Slovenske ljudske besedilne zveze) was built in the 1830s as a school. In 1874, it became the first joint institution of the Slovenes and the South Slavs in Ljubljana. However, the entrance was never known to be accessible even by wheelchairs, until recently.

This beautiful building is situated right in the middle of Ljubljana. The design of the building is only one part of the attractions. It’s the most interesting place to be, even if you are not visiting the city to enjoy the meetings.

Of course, you can’t mention the Union in Ljubljana without also mentioning some shopping in the surrounding area. The Synagogue, Trgovski center Maribor, Ljubljana’s main shopping street, and the Castle all provide a variety of shopping options.

The Union was declared an excellent architectural landmark in 1979, and it’s a beautiful building you must visit while you are in the city. You can still attend the meetings if you are interested, but as it’s not an exclusive club anymore, you can visit the frescoed hall at any time.

Tivoli Park

Presernov Trg

Presernov Trg square is the tourist center of Ljubljana. It's at the heart of Ljubljana valley and the center between the old and the new parts of the city. The square gets its name due to the fountain that was built in the former square, which is still present, though the fountain is in the park now.

The Market Hall Ljubljana

Just next to the square stands the largest market of Slovenia, which is a popular place not only for tourists but also for locals who often visit to eat or make a quick purchase.

The Post Office

Built on the other side of the railway ones near the Presernov Trg square is the oldest post office of Ljubljana, which in its present form currently stands. It was built in 1772. situated right at the point of division of the Old town and the new one.

Stolna Street (Stolnica)

The narrowest street of the city, and it's among the top tourist attractions. It gets its name from a low tower that served as a water tower from the top of which is today's Glass Museum.

The National Home for the Blind of Slovenia

Just across the railway line and next to the Stolnica street is the National Home for the Blind, the first institution of its kind established in this part of the world.

Triple Bridge

Ljubljana’s Triple Bridge (Bridges of Ljubljana) is a bridge spanning the Ljubljanica river in the center of the Sava-river valley, and connecting the old town (Stara tržnica) with the new. It consists of three bridges: the Ljubljanica River Bridge, the Triple Bridge proper, and the Ljubljana Inner City Bridge. The Ljubljana Inner City Bridge is a bridge connecting the city center with the Colours Square.

In the summer of 2007, plans were unveiled for the renovation of the bridge. In the beginning of the project a big tent, which were later removed, will be built, under which will lie a new extension of the bridge, as well as a pedestrian street to connect the bridge to the city center. The bridge was precisely built in an oval shape.

The entire renovation will cost some 15,000,000 EUR and it is expected to finish end of May 2008.

Ljubljana Castle

Old Town

If you are looking for Old Town Square, keep in mind that you will not find it by looking in the general direction of the city center. This is because, following World War II, the Soviets destroyed most of the city’s center as a means to discourage tourism, and nowadays the original square is something of an urban legend.

The original square was instead moved by several hundred meters towards the west, and it is now located at the Slovenian end of the pedestrian street called Prešernov trg.

Here you will find one of the most spectacular city squares in Europe. Regardless of the season, it is a good bet to find two of your three wishes of Sunday shopping and people-watching fulfilled at the square’s numerous cafes and restaurants.

The block-long square is lined with several ornate wooden buildings from the early 1900s, including the Ljubljana’s Regional Museum, the Municipal Council (where the mayor is sworn in) and the Holy Family church.

The numerous cafes, bars and restaurants on the square mean that you could spend an entire weekend there and not have the same spot twice.