The walk up to Ljubljana Castle is quite steep – if you are taking the original path from the old town.
If you have any ‘ability issues’ I would suggest taking a drive up the long meandering road instead, or even better – take the new ‘Funicular Railway‘.
The view overlooking the old town district (from the path) was breathtaking (though I didn’t have much breath left after the climb!).
I loved the expanse of red roofs – something you don’t see in North America (though very common in Europe).
At the castle entrance you can find the Ljubljana mascot dragon, in the form of a gorgeous medieval looking torch. There are two, one for either side of the entryway.
Archeological studies show that the site has been continually occupied since the 1200’s.
The castle changed hands a few times (read about it here at Wikipedia) before becoming property of the House of Habsburg in 1335.
During the 15th century it was all but demolished and rebuilt to include a drawbridge and a chapel.
It served as a military hospital and arsenal for about 200 years before being damaged during the Napoleonic era.
Austria took it back and turned it into a prison (until 1905, and again during WWII).
Unlike various other castles throughout the world, this one was not a family home. Without reason to maintain the castle, it fell into disrepair.
In 1905 Ljubljana picked up the costs for the castle, and though it was intended to turn the site into a museum, it actually ended up becoming a shelter for poor families until the mid 1960’s when the renovations began.
Work on Ljubljanski Grad took more than 35 years.
I spend a few hours exploring the grounds, ducking to get through tiny medieval doorways, reading the historical plaques.
There is a permanent exhibition on Slovenian history that you can check out, as well as additional exhibits on ancient wall paintings, local fossils, and the restoration project.
You can learn more here.
I climbed up the viewing tower to what used to be the fire-guards residence, to take in the incredible views.
It was overcast, but still worth the trek.
At the top I found a Canadian flag sticker attached to the flag pole, so I had to take a pic in front of it (though it did occur to me that it was a bit rude for whomever to deface Slovenian property in the name of Canada! Sorry, Slovenia!)
I was getting hungry and it was getting late. It was time to take in some ‘Ljubljanan’ night life!
Many additional photos in the slideshow.