Ljubljana the capital city of the country Slovenia is a charming little city packed with history and architecture. One of the must do things when in the city of Ljubljana is a visit to the magnificent Ljubljana Castle. The Ljubljana Castle sits on a hill overlooking the city center and the snaking Ljubljanica River dominating the city skyline. The 15th-century Ljubljana castle is just one of the city in Ljubljana and a popular tourist destination, the castle regularly hosts several cultural activities and concerts.
How to get to the Castle
One of the first things we wanted to do in the Ljubljana City was a visit to the castle.We were told that the hiking path and the funicular both started somewhere near the central market and we were yet to visit the central market so we headed towards the market from our apartment. The castle perched on the hill can be seen from almost anywhere wandering through the city. We entered into the old part of the city from the triple bridge with the castle still in view above the town hall.
The huge central market is held in the Vodnik Square and if you walk a couple of steps further the Funicular station is in the Krekov Trg (Krekov Square). You can either buy a one way or a return ticket for the funicular which takes you up to the castle grounds in 1 min. Get more information on open times and tickets here.
There are several paths to hike up to the castle which are not very steep and winds through the lush forest taking around 10 minutes. Initially, our plan was to take a funicular on the way up and then descend down through the hiking path enjoying the views. When we reached the station there was a long queue already which moved very slowly. Our plan was to save time with funicular but it looked like it would take more time hence we immediately started hiking up the path which was one of the best decisions.
The route we took was near the Central Ljubljana Market in Vodnik Square (Vodnikov trg) through the path Studentovska pot which took us around 10 minutes to reach the castle garden. The path initially winded through some old rustic buildings and quaint cafes tucked into the narrow alleys which we wouldn’t have seen we had chosen to ride the funicular.
There are several paths to hike up to the castle, the path up the hill made of wooden board and steps at few places which are not very steep and winds through the lush forest taking around 10 minutes. The other route up is a narrow alley called Ulica Reber where steps wind between the ivy-covered houses this was the route we used to come down.
The path up offered some of the incredible views of the city the Ljubljana Cathedral (The Cathedral of St.Nicholas), the pink church and the market.
The Cathedral of St.Nicholas
The City View with Pink Church and the Skyscraper or the Neboticnik
The Central Market in Vodnik Square
There is also an option to drive all the way to the castle entrance but parking is not allowed so it a good idea only if you want to drop someone and head back down into the city.
There seems to be another option of a tourist train that starts somewhere from the Stritar Street running from 9 am till 9 p.m in peak season. You may need to check with the tourist office, we visited during off season and couldn’t get much information on the same
Things to do at the Ljubljana Castle
We entered the castle grounds through the garden. At the entrance of the castle is a ticket counter where you can get your tickets. The castle grounds are free to enter. There is a restaurant where you sit and enjoy a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. Most of the exhibitions in the castle are free to visit too.
One of our favorite part of the museums in Ljubljana Castle where even our kid had a lot of fun was invariably the Puppet Museum. The tradition of puppetry in Slovenia dates back to 15th century introduced by the invading Turks which involved humourous shows featuring hand puppets. The permanent museum set up by the Ljubljana Puppet Theatre displayed numerous puppets which walk through the history and rich tradition of puppeteering in Slovenia.
The museum also had interactive puppetry sections where we could play around with the strings and see the puppets in action which was the most interesting part of the museum, especially for our 3-year-old.
Museum of Slovene History
Next to the chapel is the Museum of Slovene History which displays exhibits with information on the history of Slovenia dating back to 200,000 years to the earliest traces of human to the present-day. The documentary of the Virtual castle also presents an interesting insight into the history of Slovenia in different languages English, German, French, Spanish, Russian, Croatian and Italian.
The Outlook Tower of the Ljubljana Castle offers beautiful panoramic views of the city of Ljubljana and its surrounding. The tower built in 1982 stands in the place of original Tower of Whistles and the later an old wooden fire lookout tower. The top of the tower can be reached by a double spiral staircase.
Chapel of St George
The castle Chapel of St George dating back to 15th century is one of the oldest parts of the castle. The chapel originally built in Gothic style with Gothic pointed windows was rebuilt in the Baroque style and decorated with the coats-of-arms of the provincial governors.
There are different guided tours available at the Castle.
Classic Guided Tours
The guided tours walk through the history of the castle, the wars, the Ottoman invasions and different sections of the castle. The tour that lasts for an hour is available in Slovene, English, German, French, Italian, Spanish and Serbian or Croatian languages.
The other tour names Time Machine tours sounded very interesting and unique. The tour is conducted by six castle guides in costumed characters who each walk you through the history and facts from their period.
Best Spots to Capture the magnificent Ljubljana Castle
The city of Ljubljana has an enchanting after-dusk aura with outdoor restaurant seatings, music set along the calm Ljubljanica River. We loved to wander around the city exploring the nightlife and we got to capture this picture of the illuminated castle perched high on the hill in the sky.
Below picture was taken from the Congress Square or the Kongresni trg. The Congress Square has ample of green space and is surrounded by several important buildings like the University of Ljubljana, the Baroque Ursuline Church of the Holy Trinity, the Casino Building, and the Slovenian Philharmonic building.
Skyscraper or the Neboticnik
This picture was taken from the Skyscraper or the Neboticnik which is one of the tallest buildings in the city and the most popular for the wonderful views it offers from its cafe terrace. The cafe terrace on the 11th floor is open to the public and is accessible by lift.
Open Times and Tickets
The Ljubljana Castle and Funicular are open until late but the Info center, Virtual Castle, Outlook Tower, Slovenian History, Puppet Museum and the Chapel close early so you have only the castle grounds to explore. The open times change as per the month this link offers a detailed information on the same.
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