Exploring Ljubljana in Jože Plečnik’s Spirit

Exploring Ljubljana in Jože Plečnik’s Spirit

Have you ever wondered who designed the cities you visit? Who planned for the buildings, streets, parks and city details to be exactly as they appear today and what ideas and thoughts led to the result?
In Ljubljana the famous architect Jože Plečnik was one of the most influential and important city planners and the complete collection of his creations in the city is referred to as "Plečnik's Ljubljana".

Discover the Details

When you visit Ljubljana city center you will surely observe his work which consists of landmarks as the Triple Bridge, the Cobblers' Bridge and the covered market buildings. What you might not observe is his concern for details, lines and symmetry, or the illusion of symmetry in his work. Plečnik studied under professor Otto Wagner in Vienna and his work in Vienna, Prague and Ljubljana is characterized by the use of classical architectural elements. When renovating or creating new projects he would use elements such as pillars, balustrades and colonnettes redesigned and combined with a modern approach in his own special way.
In addition to being an architect he contributed to effective city planning in Ljubljana. His work on the Triple Bridge, connecting the historical part of Ljubljana to the more modern part, was a perfect solution on how to regulate pedestrian traffic as the existing middle bridge could not handle all the traffic. He designed and added the two pedestrian bridges at a slight angle, one on each side of the main bridge. He also created dedicated spaces for recreation and relaxation, like the Trnovo Pier, a beautiful stepped river promenade along the Ljubljanica river.

Playful Architecture

His playfulness in his architecture can be observed in how he creates an illusion of symmetry, without it being symmetric in any way and mixing different styles. The covered market buildings along the bank of Ljubljanica river is one of these places. If you look at the pillars outside the entrance door for each shop, and the heights of where the windows are placed, it looks like a symmetric pattern that repeats all the way along the building. If you look closer you will see that the pillars get shorter and shorter and the height of the windows get lower and lower if you walk from the Triple Bridge towards the Lovers Bridge/Butcher's Bridge. The thought behind this architectural idea was to adapt the height of the river bank terrain to the building creating an illusion of consistency and symmetry. The buildings are also designed with two different styles on each side. The riverside part is built on Italian Renaissance lines while the entrance side has antique-type columns.

The Masterpiece

One of Plečnik's absolute masterpieces in Ljubljana is the National and University Library where he combines huge marble columns and artificial stone with elements inspired by classical Italian renaissance architecture. The building is meant to be a place for knowledge and learning and the reading room, unfortunately unavailable for outsiders most of the time, is perfectly designed for that. Observing the building from the outside, you might recognise that all the windows look like open books, another playful design element from Plečnik. In the basement of the building you can relax with a cup of tea from Plečnik's special blend and taste his favorite honey cookie.

Learn More About Plečnik in Ljubljana

If you are interested in learning more about Plečnik and his impact on how Ljubljana appears today, join a city walk and discover all the hidden secrets of his work. With a guided tour you will also be able to visit the reading room in the National and University Library, one of the definitive highlights of the tour.
You can also visit the Plečnik house for a guided tour in the residential area to learn more about him as a person. The house displays all original interior, and the way he designed his own house tells a lot about both his work and his life philosophy. He believed in working hard and not to be tempted to spend too much time sleeping or resting in his bed, and his solution was to design a bed that was too short and very uncomfortable. He also designed the chair he used for work to be uncomfortable, to help stay sharp. Plečnik was not a social person unless it was work or business related. He would not invite unimportant people into his house and had a special front porch where he could answer requests. He had a dedicated room in his house for close friends and business meetings.
There is also a museum connected to his house, showing his projects and explaining more about his complete work focusing specially on his creations in Ljubljana. In addition to sketches, plans, models, and photographs relating to Plečnik's creations there are also models and sketches of buildings never realised, like the Cathedral of Freedom that he planned to build where the Ljubljana castle is located.
Travel Tip shared by Janicke for Travel Dudes.