Who was France Prešeren?

As you tour Slovenia, you will often hear the name Prešeren – streets, buildings, squares, and even special cultural and culinary features are named after him. France Prešeren was the greatest Slovenian poet, who lived in the first half of the 19th century. He is of great importance for the Slovenian people, as his poetry and his work greatly contributed to strengthening the Slovenian sense of nationhood and cultural identity. After Slovenia gained its independence, his poem Zdravljica (A Toast) became the Slovenian national anthem. Prešeren's poetry has been translated into many other languages.

 

On 8 February, the day of his death, the Slovenian Cultural Holiday is observed. On this day, his birthplace, Vrba na Gorenjskem, and Kranj, where the Prešeren Fair is held, are the most ceremonious. On the day of his birth, 3 December, Slovenians celebrate This Happy Day of Culture. This is when most of Slovenia’s cultural institutions open their doors to visitors for free.  If you would like to learn about Prešeren in greater detail, a visit to the key places in his life in Slovenia – Vrba na Gorenjskem, Ljubljana, and Kranj – is a must.

“O, Vrba, happy village, my old home” (F. Prešeren – Sonnets of Unhappiness)

The first station in Prešeren’s life is Vrba na Gorenjskem. His birth house, where he spent his childhood, has now been turned into a museum, and various events are held there, too. A few other important figures that influenced Slovenian cultural life and even spread their knowledge beyond Slovenia's borders also hail from this village at the foot of Mt Stol. You can learn about Prešeren and other literary authors, bee-keepers, and intellectuals on the Cultural Heritage Trail, where you can take a ride in a typical horse-drawn carriage – the lojtrnik.

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In Prešeren's footsteps in Ljubljana

This poet spent most of his life in Ljubljana, so you will often encounter the name Prešeren in the capital city. Learn about some of the most interesting places and experiences related to Prešeren.

Prešeren Square

You will often hear people say: “Let’s meet at Prešeren Square,” one of the main squares in Ljubljana, where you can see a statue of the poet. From here, you can walk across Plečnik’s famous Three Bridges and head into the old part of Ljubljana or take a stroll along the River Ljubljanica, surrendering to the vibrant urban vibe, while also learning about the story of the prideful Urška and the Water Man described in the verses of a poem by Prešeren.

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Prešeren Square

Prešeren Square

You will often hear people say: “Let’s meet at Prešeren Square,” one of the main squares in Ljubljana, where you can see a statue of the poet. From here, you can walk across Plečnik’s famous Three Bridges and head into the old part of Ljubljana or take a stroll along the River Ljubljanica, surrendering to the vibrant urban vibe, while also learning about the story of the prideful Urška and the Water Man described in the verses of a poem by Prešeren.

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Trnovo Church

Trnovo Church

If you are a romantic at heart, make sure to visit the church in Trnovo, not far from the city centre. This is where Prešeren first set his eyes on his great love and muse, Julija Primic. One of Prešeren’s greatest masterpieces is devoted to her – a Wreath of Sonnets.

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In Prešeren's footsteps

In Prešeren's footsteps

If you’d like to discover even more traces of Prešeren in Ljubljana, join a guided walk in his footsteps. As you take a stroll through the streets of Ljubljana, you will learn many interesting things about the poet's life and about the Ljubljana of his time.

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Prešeren’s “sweet treats”

Prešeren’s “sweet treats”

Perhaps Prešeren’s love life would have turned out better if he had given his beloved Julija something sweet. Well, you can treat your ‘Julijas’ with Prešeren's chocolate balls or Prešeren’s figs from Ljubljana's chocolate shops.

LUV Fest

LUV Fest

The festival celebrating love and art while strolling around Ljubljana will be taking place between 8 February, the day commemorating the death of poet France Prešeren, also known as Culture Day, and 12 March when St Gregory’s Day, the Slovenian holiday of love, is celebrated. Unforgettable romantic experiences for all senses await you on your walk through Ljubljana.

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Kranj – Prešeren's town

Prešeren spent the last years of his life in Kranj. However, as you take a walk around the town, which is considered the capital of the Slovenian Alps, you will encounter his name at virtually every step. Join a walk through the old town centre of Kranj, where you can enter cultural institutions bearing Prešeren’s name or you can even go back to his time in history.

Take a time machine back to Prešeren’s days

The Prešeren Fair comes to life in Kranj every year on 8 February, which is the Slovenian Cultural Holiday. Go on a walk through the old town centre with townspeople dressed in their 19th century attire. Visit stands selling cottage industry products and learn about the work of Kranj's craftsmen and artisans. During this time, you can also take a carriage ride around the town.

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Take a time machine back to Prešeren’s days

Take a time machine back to Prešeren’s days

The Prešeren Fair comes to life in Kranj every year on 8 February, which is the Slovenian Cultural Holiday. Go on a walk through the old town centre with townspeople dressed in their 19th century attire. Visit stands selling cottage industry products and learn about the work of Kranj's craftsmen and artisans. During this time, you can also take a carriage ride around the town.

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A gallery of Prešeren Award winners

A gallery of Prešeren Award winners

Slovenia’s highest accolade for work in culture is named after France Prešeren. You can learn about Prešeren Award winners in a gallery at the Pavšlar House, an old 16th-century house located in the old town centre of Kranj.

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The Prešeren Theatre and the Week of Slovenian Drama

The Prešeren Theatre and the Week of Slovenian Drama

As you walk through the old town centre, you will notice a large statue of Prešeren, which stands in front of the Prešeren Theatre. Every spring, this theatre hosts the Week of Slovenian Drama, which encourages Slovenian playwriting. As a part of the international programme, you can also experience the genre performed by visiting actors from abroad.

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Prešeren House

Prešeren House

Would you like to have a closer look at the life of this poet and learn about the spirit of the times in which he lived? Visit the Prešeren House, which is now a memorial museum. It also houses a gallery, where you can visit exhibitions related to Prešeren.

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Heads or Tails

Heads or Tails

France Prešeren left many traces in Kranj. You can discover them on a special guided tour of this city above the Kokra River Canyon. The direction of your tour will be decided by a coin toss. You will release your creativity by writing with a goose quill, just like the great Slovenian poet did, and by making photographs on glass in the style of another great man from Kranj, Janez Puhar.

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Perhaps you didn’t
know...

Learn about some other interesting features related to the name Prešeren.

France’s image and a verse from the Toast adorn the Slovenian two-euro coin.

The first Slovenian rose grown by the scholar Dr Matjaž Kmecl is named after Prešeren. The rose is pink with white and brown tinges.

The word ‘prešeren’ also means happy in Slovenian.

Open the treasury of Slovenian culture

The first writings in the Slovenian language date as far back as the 9th century, when the Freising Manuscripts were written. The first two printed books in Slovenian, which were published during the Reformation, were the work of Primož Trubar. To commemorate this pivotal event, Slovenia celebrates Reformation Day on 31 October. This is not the only national holiday related to culture. There is also Prešeren Day, the Slovenian Cultural Holiday, celebrated on 8 February in memory of the poet France Prešeren. Throughout history, Slovenian master wordsmiths created many outstanding works, some of which are still topical today. Their mission has been taken on and developed by countless modern authors, whose works are translated into many languages and read by readers from other countries. You can learn about the literary creativity in Slovenia in various ways, including at festivals and other interesting events.

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