The absolute centre in Ljubljana is without any doubt Prešeren square, between the Franciscan church and the Triple Bridge, which leads into the Old Town. The square is named after France Prešeren, the Slovenian national poet. He was born in 1800, studied law in Vienna and died in Krajn, at only 49 years of age. At that time Krajn was called Krainburg, as Slovenia was part of the Austrian Empire. Prešeren wrote poems, mainly about love and nature. The writer, who is classified among the romantic poets, composed also poems in German. A part of his poem "Zdravljica" is today the text of the national anthem of Slovenia. Of course he has a statue standing on "his own" square.
What makes this square definitely to the centre of the city, is, that a lot of different events are held there, from live music to competitions in basketball. One assembles the readymade seats in no time - if necessary also a stage - and then it starts, without claiming entry fees. It is logical, that there are a lot of spectators and that the square has an intense atmosphere.
Apart from that, the Triple Bridge contributes as well to attract many people to the square, because all the tourists want to see the bridge, of course. It leads across the Ljubljanica river and spreads like a fan, seen from the Old Town. And the bridge has a lot of history. Already in the Middle Ages there was one crossing the river at this spot, because on the side of the Old Town, there was one of the town gates in the city wall. The oldest bridge is mentioned as early as in 1280. It was built of wood and burned down in the 17th century. It was replaced by another wooden bridge. In 1842 the city finally built a stone bridge.
This got the official name of Frančev most (Francis' bridge), after the Austrian Archduke Francis Charles, the father of Emperor Francis Joseph. But even this bridge became a bottleneck. Therefore the well-known Slovenian architect Jože Plečnik, got the assignment to renew the bridge. In 1932 he built a pedestrian bridge on either side, with a slight angle to the central one, which he kept as it was. As late as in 1958 a tramwayline was running over it. Today all three bridges are for pedestrians. But Plečnik renewed the balustrade.
All three bridges were supplied with the same balusters, in order to make it look as if all bridges were built at the same time. There is a total of 642 balusters. They are cast in concrete and were polished by hand afterwards. It is said that even ordinary inhabitants of Ljubljana helped doing this.
In the picture to the left one can also see the Philipp Mansion, which already is situated in the Old Town. Together with the Kresija-House on the opposite site, they mark the place for the old town gate. Both those houses were erected in 1898, three years after the earthquake, that shook Ljubljana.
On the other side of the bridge, where the modern town spreads, the Franciscan church is situated. It is called like this, because there is a Franciscan monastery next to it. Its real name is Church of the Annunciation. It was built in the 17th century and is, together with the Triple Bridge a landmark of Ljubljana. At the earthquake in 1895, many of the frescoes inside were ruined. They were replaced by the impressionist painter Matej Sternen.

Copyright Bernhard Kauntz, Wolvertem 2012

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last update: 21.6.2012 by