Day trips from Ljubljana. 2014.
We wanted to visit some places close to Ljubljana while we stayed there so we did a day trip to the town of Kranj and thenearby town of Skofja Loka. Kranj occupied us for about half a day. Kranj is the fourth largest city in Slovenia. It is located at the confluence of the Sava and Kokra Rivers in the shadow of the Slovenian Alps. Kranj is a pleasant place with an old town, beautiful squares, fountains, three churches and a castle which like many Slovenian castles looks more like a big house than a castle. Slovenia's most famous poet, France Preseren, died in Kranj after living here for the last three years of his life. He is buried in Preseren Grove, a cemetery north of Kranj. Preseren's last house is now a museum. There is a theatre in town named after Preseren with a larger than life statue of Preseren striding along with his hair and coat blowing in the wind. We went to Kranj by bus from Ljubljana's Main Bus Station and left by taking a train to Skofja Loka.
Our bus let us off at Slovenski Trg (Slovenia Square) before continuing to the bus station. Slovenski Trg was redeveloped after World War II. It is the location of Kranj's best secondary school and home to several wonderful sculptures by Lojze Dolinar. Several of the buildings on the square were designed by architect Edvard Ravnikar. These include the Creina Hotel, City Hall and the former Globus shopping centre, which is now home to Kranj City Library.
Glavni Trg is Kranj's main square. It is home to Kranj's town hall, the beautiful St Kancijan Church, the Prešeren Theatre, museums, cafes and a fountain. This square houses a weekly farmers' market. It was restored fully in 2013. Kranj's tourist office is located here.
St Kancijan Church.
St Kancijan Church is located on Kranj's main square. It was the only one of Kranj's churches which was open during our visit and it was lovely and peaceful inside. The church was founded in the 5th century, but most of the current building dates from the 15th century.
Preseren In Kranj.
Preseren, Slovenia’s most famous poet, lived in Kranj for the last three years of his life and died here. His final house is located at number seven Presernova ulica. The house has been made into a museum and displays some of Preseren’s furniture. It also contains his manuscripts, diaries and letters. Preseren is buried in a small cemetery called Preseren Grove about 500m north of Kranj.
Next to St Kancijan Church there is a large and impressive monument of Slovenia's most famous poet, Preseren, striding down the street with his hair and coat blowing in the wind. This monument is next to the rather impressive looking Preseren Theatre. The colonnaded façade of Prešeren Theatre, which was added during major renovations in the early 1950s was designed by famous Slovenian architect, Joze Pleznik.
The castle in Kranj’s town centre is called Khislstein Castle. It is now a museum. We did not go inside. Kranj’s castle like many Slovenian castles is more like a big house than a castle. The lower parts of Kranj's castle are an integral part of Kranj's defensive walls. Khislstein Castle takes its name from its 16th century owner Janez Khisl. In the castle grounds there was a weird sculpture of a bishop like person being devoured by octopuses, or should that be octopi, while a woman possibly the Virgin Mary prayed nearby. Apparently it shows St John of Nepomuk being thrown to a watery grave in the Vlatava River by King Wenceslas.
The Church Of The Holy Rosary.
The Church of the Holy Rosary is a beautiful looking building. It was built at the beginning of the 16th century as a place of worship for Kranj's Protestants. This church was restored in the 17th century and completely renovated again in the 1890s. The church is next to a colonnade designed by Pleznik and a pretty fountain topped by a rooster. It was closed when we visited.
The Church On Pungert.
This church on Pungert was built in1470. At the time of the church's construction, the town was in the grips of a terrible plague. The church is sacred to St.Fabijan, St.Sebastijan and St.Rok. These saints were believed to protect the faithful from the plague. The church was closed during our visit. There was a colourful painting on the outside of the church. Near the church there is an old tower. This is one of seven that were parts of the city walls. There is also a viewing platform with views over the Kokra River.
The Sava River.
We walked across this river and took some pictures back towards the town. I had seen lovely pictures of Kranj with mountains towering behind it. I think to get a shot of this you have to go down the steps and facing the river and go off to the right. I say think because we did not do this and missed the picture of Kranj with towering mountains though I did try to get it not altogether successfully from a train window and later from a bus window.
Studenty, Arty Area.
I don't entirely know what this building near Kranj Railway Station is but I do know that it reminded me of the studenty, arty, squat area in Ljubljana. It was filled with weird and wonderful works of modern art
Skofja Loka .
After visiting Kranj, we visited Skofja Loka for half a day. We got there by train from Kranj. Skofja Loka Train Station is a long way from Skofja Loka old town. I think it was a long, hot half hour's walk. The bus station is right next to the old town. Skofja Loka means Bishop’s Meadow. It is 19KM northwest of Ljubljana. The town is located on the confluence of the Selska Sora and the Poljanska Sora Rivers. The old town looked extremely beautiful and impressive as we approached from a distance. Its best features, in my opinion, were the lovely Capuchin Bridge, its hilltop castle, andthe nearby village of Pustal’s Devil’s Bridge. Other plus points of the town were some lovely churches, painted houses and pretty squares. Down points were several parts of the town were being restored; meaning some roads were inaccessible – of course restoration has to be done and it is just a matter of luck whether it is going on when you visit or not. The other down point was there were quite a lot of cars roaring around the town, so it was quite heavy on traffic.
The Church Of St Ann.
The Church of St Ann is located near the Capuchin Bridge. This was the only church we went in to and it was very pleasant. The church dates from the early eighteenth century. Worth visiting if you get the chance.
The Capuchin Bridge.
The Capuchin Bridge is a lovely part of town. You have beautiful views up and down the Selska Sora River and if you wander down the river a little, you have a beautiful view back towards the bridge. The bridge was built by Bishop Leopold and dates from the fourteenth century. In the middle of the bridge is statue of saint John of Nepomuk. A saint who met a watery end as I found out when writing my Kranj tips.
Mestni Trg is the main square in Skofja Loka. It is where you will find the town hall, a fountain, a and some of Skofja Loka’s painted houses. Most of the buildings on this square were constructed in the early and mid sixteenth century. They were built to replace previous buildings destroyed by a powerful earthquake in 1511. Homan House is located at the north end of the square. This manor house was once the home of the painter Ivan Grohar. The square also has a plague column erected to thank the Virgin Mary for deliverance from the last bout of plague in 1751.
Skofja Loka Castle.
Skofja Loka Castle is an attractive looking building set on a hill. It was closed when we got to it, which did not bother us as we just wanted to look at it from the outside. There were lovely views in both directions from the castle. There was also a little café next to the castle. Skofja Loka Castle was the residence of the Bishops of Friezing from 973 until 1803. The castle has been a museum since 1959.
Pustal is a village on the other side of the Poljanska Sora River from Skofja Loka. Pustal has a castle which is more just like a big house. It has a pretty looking hilltop church called the Church of the Holy Cross and it has the Devil’s Footbridge. I would recommend visiting this long wooden bridge as the views from it are very pretty.