The most interesting churches in Ljubljana

by Inga Batur

If you visit Ljubljana's city centre there are two churches you won’t be able to miss – Saint Nicholas’s Cathedral and the uniquely coloured pink Church of the Annunciation located on the Prešernov trg square. But if you like a good story, appreciate interesting architecture and history there are more churches in the capital of Slovenia that you can visit. Here are the ones that I’d recommend.

Church of St. John the Baptist

It is said that the famous Slovenian poet France Prešeren and the author of the poem that became Slovenian national anthem met his muse Julija Primic in front of this church. It was to be the beginning of an unrequited love that marked his life and his work. He remained hopelessly in love with Julia and some of his greatest poems are dedicated to her.

Location: The church is located in the lovely Trnovo district, which can easily be reached from the centre. Just follow the river Ljubljanica, heading right if you are standing on the Prešern square and the castle is on the hill in front of you.

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Tip: Famous architect Jože Plečnik lived in the house next to the church and I’d recommend visiting it. It’s now a very interesting museum that lets you learn more about this great man. And you can find his lamp of eternal light in the church.

Church of St Francis

Speaking of Jože Plečnik and interesting architecture, I suggest you wander out of the centre and visit the Church of St. Francis, which was built between 1925 and 1927. Even after it was finished and operational, Plečnik continued to add new elements to it. He furnished it with chandeliers and, WWII he decorated the church's Chapel, baptistery and sacristy. The uniqueness is evident both inside and outside.

Location: The church can be found in the district of Šiška, tucked between different apartment buildings. The bus number 22 will get you the closest but you’ll still have to walk a short distance.

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Tip: Honestly there’s not much to do in the vicinity, but don’t skip it, the building itself is worth the detour.

Visitation of Mary Church

This church, which is open on special occasions, has a long history, dating back to 1526 when a document refers to a church at the location of Rožnik Hill. And it is the location, that has gotten this church on the list.

Location: It will be a bit of hike to get to the church, but it’ll be worth it. It is located on Cankarjev vrh, named after a famous Slovenian writer Ivan Cankar, who lived there between 1910 and 1917.

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Tip: Plan to spend a few hours, as there is also a lovely inn at the top with an even better garden. It offers treats, lots of traditional Slovenian dishes and sweets you definitely shouldn't miss. You can also visit Cankar’s memorial room located in one of the adjoining buildings.

Church of St James

Built by Jesuits between 1613 and 1615 the Church of St. James has the altar and statues sculpted by Francesco Robba, who lived in the vicinity of the church. He was an Italian Baroque sculptor and his most famous work in Ljubljana is the Fountain of Three Carniolan Rivers in front of the town hall, while the original can be observed in the National Gallery.

Jože Plečnik has been involved here as well as the architect who redesigned the square around the church. He surrounded it with a row of stone balls and added greenery.

Location: From the Fountain of Three Carniolan Rivers in the centre take a right and walk down the Mestni trg and Stari trg squares to Levstikov trg square and it will be right in front of you.

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Tip: From here you can proceed to Trnovo district, but before you do, look up and to your left before crossing a street and you’ll notice a raised building arching across. It was designed by the architect Boris Kobe to connect two buildings.

Ursuline Church or Church of the Holy Trinity

I have passed this church, Church of the Holy Trinity, also called the Ursuline Church, numerous times. It’s impossible not to due to its location. I haven’t realised it how beautiful it is until I researched churches for this post. Don’t make my mistake, when on Kongresni trg square keep your eyes opened and you will spot a building – church with interesting undulating façade enhanced by semi-columns and a characteristic gable. This all makes it one of Ljubljana's most unusual Baroque monuments. Unlike typical Baroque churches it is not painted inside, yet it holds a lot of significant artwork.

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Location: Best observed, if you stand somewhere in the middle of Kongresni trg square and turn towards the main Slovenska cesta road.

Tip: Visit the Museum of Illusions while you are at the Kongresni trg.

Inga Batur

Inga Batur thinks all the trips with the kids should be fun(ny).

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