In the Spotlight
The history of the Stud farm and lipizzan horses is closely intertwined with the Habsburgs who ruled as many as 650 years over an extensive part of baroque Europe. Horses, the Spanish horse was considered an ideal breed, were at the time a crucial strategic advantage and were thus of outstanding importance to the Habsburgs. The soil and climate of the Karst are very similar to that of Spain which is why the Archduke Charles chose to build the royal stud farm in 1578 in the Karst in the abandoned summer residence of the Bishop of Trieste in this area. On 19 May 1580 he signed an agreement to restore the estate.
At the end of World War II the newly-established Czechoslovakia kept all the horses from Lipica, while an international committee held negotiations on the return of part of the herd – which had been transferred to Laxenburg – back to Lipica which at that time was occupied by Italy. After the Yalta conference (February 1945) Czechoslovakia was ruled by the Soviet Union. The German garrisons were disbanded and the displaced inhabitants were left to the squalor of post-war devastation, meaning that the breeding stock of the centuries-old Lipizzaner stud farm was also at stake.
Since the establishment of the public institution, the stud farm had made significant progress. The architectural core of Lipica, which was under monumental protection, was renovated and the herd was enlarged. In 2002 the Lipica Stud Farm was recognised as a breeding organisation holding the original studbooks of the Lipizzaner breed. At the beginning of 2003 the Government of the Republic of Slovenia adopted the Lipica Stud Farm Protection and Development Programme for 2002-2005. In May 2005 the stud farm celebrated its 425th anniversary.
In 1996 the Lipica Stud Farm was declared a cultural monument of outstanding importance for the Republic of Slovenia by adopting the Act on Stud Farm Lipica. The protected territory of the Lipica Stud Farm, which is as a part of monumental whole under special protection, consists of a cultivated Karst landscape, a herd of horses of Lipizzan breed and the architectural and art heritage.
The outstandingness of the Lipica Stud Farm in the field of cultural and natural heritage is based on the following facts:
- It is the original stud farm of one of the oldest cultural horse breeds – the Lipizzaner
- It is the oldest European stud farm breeding a single breed of horse
- It presents a unique atmosphere with individual elements – spatial arrangement, architectural core and cultural landscape
- It has an exceptional development potential in the sense of preserving top breeding of Lipizzaner worldwide
About the Cave
A fantastic web of tunnels, passages, galleries and halls, the astonishing diversity of Karst features as well as easy access are certainly the main reasons for such popularity of the cave and a large number of visitors, which has already reached 35 million in 200 years.
Postojna Cave is the best-known cave in the world. It is also the greatest tourist attraction in Slovenia and one of the world’s largest karst monuments. Many books and other contributions have been written about Postojna Cave; speaking of tourist guides regarding the cave itself, almost 100 have been produced over 200 years.
What makes the Postojna Cave so special?
The only cave with a double track railway
For 140 years, the Postojna Cave, as the only cave in the world, offers a unique and adventurous ride with a special train, which will take you into the cave, under spectacular underground arches, which are embellished with chandellier look-alike stalactites, through a beautiful subterranean world full of playful limestone sculptures.
Stalactite paradise on every corner
21 km of passages, galleries and magnificent halls offer a unique experience of the underground world. The Postojna cave is definitely one of the most diverse cave systems in the world.
Meet the dragon’s offspring
The unusual looks of the olm have always sparked our imagination. At first it was believed that they were just baby dragons which the high tide brought to the surface. As a matter of fact, there might be some truth to these old beliefs.
The most beautiful stalagmite in the Postojna cave is called the Brilliant. Looking at this marvellous, shiny white limestone formation, you simply must agree it is fully worthy of its name.
A tourist attraction for 200 years
In 1819 Archduke Ferdinand I visited the cave and became the first official visitor. This gave rise to the tourism in Postojna and this date is considered the official start of modern cave tourism although signatures dated from the 13th century can be found in the cave.
Anybody who wants to be somebody must visit
In its 200 year-old history, the cave has impressed over 35 million visitors from all over the world, many of which have left their signature in the memorable visitors’ books.
BLED CASTLE – according to written sources, the oldest castle in Slovenia, first mentioned in a 1011 donation deed as castellum Veldes.
Perched atop a steep cliff rising 130 metres above the glacial Lake Bled is a symbol of Bled and Slovenia – Bled Castle. The image of the castle forming a dramatic backdrop to the romantic island and the church on it has earned the resort worldwide recognition through the centuries. Castle terraces offer spectacular views of the lake and the island, down the Dežela area with Lesce and Radovljica and over to the mountain ranges of the Karavanke and the Julian Alps.
It has been over a thousand years since on 10 April 1004 the German king Henry II conferred the estate of Bled located in the province called in Carniola on Bishop Albuin of Brixen and his church. In 1011 Henry II awarded Albuin’s successor, Adalberon, the castle on the cliff (castellum Veldes) in a charter in which the castle was first explicitly mentioned. The Bled Castle was the administrative seat of the Brixen estate in the Gorenjsko region. Medieval documents refer to Bled with its German name Veldes. In terms of written documents, Bled Castle is the oldest castle in Slovenia. Castle buildings are arranged around the lower and upper courtyards.
The fame of Bled and its beauties was spread around the world by world travellers, including Janez Vajkard Valvasor and his Glory of the Duchy of Carniola of 1689.
Owing to its strategic geographic location, Bled has always been an important venue of high–level political and other official meetings. Its castle has been visited by a number of high-ranking statesmen who enjoyed the breathtakingly beautiful views of the surrounding nature.
The museum located in the baroque rooms of the castle takes visitors on a journey celebrating the eventful history of Bled from the time when the first settlements in the area appeared to the present day. The furnishing of the museum interprets settlement culture over different eras.
Bird of paradise, 6th century finding
A display case at the castle proudly presents one of the most beautiful 6th century findings – a peacock-shaped brooch found at Pristava below the Bled Castle.
The peacock is known to adorn the Garden of Eden and is often referred to as “the bird of paradise”, a symbol of life and wealth. These are also the values that have been associated with Bled in the past, in the present and the values Bled is likely to embody in the future.
Ljubljanski grad (Ljubljana castle)
Ljubljana Castle (Ljubljanski grad) is the most spectacular sight of Ljubljana. There is proven evidence that the hill on top of which it is situated was inhabited back in the 12th century BC Preserved from this early period of settlement are the remains of the Urn Tomb culture.
The first known fortification of considerable dimensions situated on top of the Castle Hill (Grad) was built in Illyrian and Celtic times. A stronghold was most probably located there also in Roman times. A document originating from the period between 1112 and 1125 mentions a medieval castle built in the 9th century, which served as the seat of the provincial rulers of the Spannheim family, who coined their own money in Ljubljana. In 1335 the castle became the hereditary property of the Hapsburg family and the centre of the Province of Carniola. In the second half of the 15th century a new, larger, circular castle was built by Duke Frederick III of Hapsburg, later crowned Roman German Emperor.
Except for the outer walls of the Chapel of St. George (Kapela sv. Jurija), which was consecrated in 1489, all the other main buildings of the present castle were either built or rebuilt in the 16th and 17th centuries. Until 1814 the castle served as a garrison and later a provincial prison. Built in 1848 was the Outlook Tower (Razgledni stolp), the home of the guard whose duty was to shoot cannons to warn against fire and announce important visitors and events taking place in Ljubljana – a duty previously performed by town servants at the Pipers’ Tower (Stolp piskačev). In 1905 the castle was purchased by the Municipality of Ljubljana in order to be used for cultural purposes, but until 1964 it mainly served as a residential building. Afterwards it underwent a renovation, which has still been going on. Since 2000, the castle has been administered by the Festival Ljubljana festival management company.
Ljubljana Castle is a major tourist attraction and a picturesque venue of numerous cultural events including concerts, theatre performances, exhibitions, congresses and official receptions, which add a special flavour to the lively pulse of life in Ljubljana.
Ljubljana castle and funicular:
– january, february, march and november: 10.00 – 20.00
– april, may and october: 9.00 – 21.00
– june, july, august and september: 9.00 – 23.00
– december: 10.00 – 22.00
Information centre, Virtual castle, permanent exhibition of Slovenian history, The Penitentiary, The Chapel, Viewing Tower:
– january, february, march and november: 10.00 – 18.00
– april, may in october: 9.00 – 20.00
– june, july, august and september: 9.00 – 21.00
– december: 10.00 – 19.00
The Ljubljana Zoo is situated on the southern slope of the Rožnik Hill in the natural environment of woods and meadows. It is an integrated part of a protected natural park and other green areas. The walking distance from the city centre is approx. 20 minutes. Visitors can admire numerous wild animal species from all continents living in their natural environment. The emphasis is laid primarily on the animal variety at the junction of three zoogeographical areas: the Alpine, Pannonian and Mediterranean.
May, June, July and August: 9:00-19:00 daily
January, February, November and December: 9:00-16:00 daily
March and October: 9:00-17:00 daily
April and September: 9:00-18:00 daily
In the areas around the numerous thermal springs in Slovenia, it is more than just natural health spas that have developed. While many of the thermal spas and health resorts are still using their therapeutic effects to provide medical rehabilitation, they are also extending their services to attract slightly different guests. Of the top thermal centres, special mention should be made of Terme Snovik, the first Slovenian tourist company to obtain the EU’s Eco-daisy emblem for an environment-friendly tourist accommodation facility.
First and foremost at all Slovenia’s thermal spas and bathing resorts is of course the range of services tied to thermal water, but they are also developing their own specific programmes.
Terme Banovci in Prekmurje, for instance, together with other thermal spas and health resorts associated in the group of Pannonian spas, is focused on family-friendly services. Terme Maribor, which combines five hotels and the medical spa centre Fontana, offers outstanding premises for conferences. Terme Snovik in Kamnik is focused on the culinary dimensions of healthy eating and organic food.
All of this is just fragments of the wealth of services provided by Slovenia’s thermal spas and bathing centres. Assembled into their main components, they cover:
– Health resort services based on the beneficial effects of thermal springs,
– Water fun in the pools and slides,
– Sports and recreation,
– Great food,
– Accommodation in comfortable, modern hotels, apartment villages and camp sites.
Slovenia’s thermal spas and bathing centres also host a variety of social and cultural events.
The thermal bathing centres around Slovenia provide something for everyone, so people are happy to return. Try them out yourself.
At this point we should also mention the Debeli rtič Youth Health and Holiday Resort near Ankaran. As the name itself makes clear, this resort is devoted to young people and children. Each year thousands of children spend their summer at this health resort, where sea water and sea mud are used. They include many children from families that cannot afford this. Their seaside holiday is therefore made possible by Slovenian humanitarian organisations.