St Nicholas Church, Ljubljana’s cathedral, is easily recognisable by its green-topped dome and twin towers. The cathedral was consecrated in 1707, 6 years after building began. However there has been a church on the site since the 13th century dedicated, as is the current church, to the patron saint of fisherman and boatman.
Start your visit by walking round the exterior. On the southern wall is a brightly decorated pieta, a copy of one that possibly used to be in the Gothic cathedral that preceded the present one. Two huge stunning bronze doors, on the side and front of the building, were added in 1996 to commemorate the visit of Pope John Paul II. Decorated with raised relief scenes depicting 1,250 years of Christianity in Slovenia and the bishops of Ljubljana they resemble sculptures as much as doors.
Inside the decoration, particularly the vivid paintings by Giuilo Quaglio and Matevž Langus, create a sense of excitement, movement and vitality. The wonderful ceiling in the nave is so full of detail that after a while you find your eyes swimming as you pick out the various figures, animals and scenes. Likewise the inside of the dome (a later addition to the church in 1841) may set your head spinning as you swivel your neck upwards to see the intricate frescos that decorate it.
In the chancel are the imposing stalls for the bishop and clergy decorated with gilded wooden backrests, above is Langus’ impressive altar painting of St. Nicholas and above that small figures seems to hang from the wall linked together by vines of gold.
Very near the Triple Bridge, Dragon Bridge and Vodnikov trg
Your first impression of Ljubljana Castle will probably be from below staring up at it, standing like a sentinel, on the top of the hill overlooking the city. You are aware of its presence in the background well before you visit it.
Climbing up to the castle you meander on curving streets past beautiful cottages, views of the city and, in our case, under the watchful gaze of a number of neighbourhood cats! Once at the top you are rewarded with more fantastic views over the city from the 19th Century Belvedere Tower (there has been a settlement on the site since Celtic times but much of the castle is now based around 16th Century and after rebuilding) and a chance to look round St. George’s Chapel and the Castle itself.
During its lifetime the Castle has been used as a garrison, seat of provincial government and a prison. Now it is used for weddings, concerts and art exhibitions. While we were there was a fascinating exhibition of iron/metal work sculpture by Aleksander Arhar.
Castle Hill. Either take the Tourist Train from Prešeren Square or Walk up from Ciril-Metodov Trg or via Gornji trg and Ulica na Grad
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