Jože Plečnik, who worked in Vienna, Prague, and Ljubljana from the late 19th century and all the way until the 1950s, left his greatest mark on Ljubljana. He managed to realise his vision to transform a once sleepy little town within the Hapsburg monarchy into the true capital city of Slovenia. Through daring architectural and urban planning projects, he transformed it into a comprehensive piece of art, while keeping in line with the local spirit despite his own excitement over Antiquity. You can also admire his works of art in other places in Slovenia.
Walk around Plečnik’s Ljubljana
The most important Slovenian architect was the student of the famous Otto Wagner, in whose atelier he worked. After a number of decades of working in Vienna and Prague, he returned to Ljubljana, where he created projects that still draw admiration. Through his non-conformist approach that did not blindly follow existing trends he ensured that his works are timeless and that they continue to draw admiration and cause lively debate at the same time.
One of the more complex projects in Ljubljana's public space is the Main Marketplace by the River Ljubljanica. The Marketplace has two levels, semi-circular windows, and pillars, which make it mighty in appearance, and they also hark back to ancient times and the Renaissance which greatly affected this area. Nearby, the old medieval town centre is connected with the newer part of the city by three bridges known as Tromostovje (Slovenian for Three Bridges), a special architectural feature of Ljubljana, through which Plečnik wished to revive the banks of the river. He managed to do this through some other projects as well, so today the embankment of the River Ljubljanica and its many bars, cafés, and restaurants is a popular gathering place for locals and visitors alike. One of his most important works is the National and University Library, which was designed as a temple of erudition. It stands out due to its imposing façade with interspersed rough stones and a mighty staircase in the building’s interior leading towards the light – the rooms with books that enlighten the human spirit. Plečnik also furnished the great reading room, and today you can taste Plečnik’s favourite tea in the café.
The theme of light and divinity also appears in Plečnik’s sacred works, among which the Church of St Francis, which was designed as a temple with a cylindrical belfry, the unique Church of St Michael as an excellent example of adapting to the local culture and materials, and the Žale memorial complex stand out the most. In his desire to make this a memorial garden for the deceased, Plečnik created a unique arch and behind it chapels of rest in different styles, as a symbol of everyone being equal before death.
Plečnik also designed a few palaces in Ljubljana, such as the building of today's Zavarovalnica Triglav insurance company with a double façade, in which one can also find one of the one hundred best restaurants in the world. As you explore the legacy of this great architect, do not miss the former monastery of the Teutonic Order, the beginnings of which date back to the 13th century. The former Križanke monastery was redesigned by Jože Plečnik into a unique venue for events. You can discover a lot about the life and work of this special man in his house, in which his personal belongings, original room set-ups, and project designs have been kept.
Explore Slovenia with the help of Plečnik’s works of art
Head to different parts of Slovenia and, in addition to the natural beauty spots and the culinary offerings, explore Plečnik’s legacy too. In the west, in the Tolmin region, you can visit the Church of St Mary’s Call creatively adapted by the architect from its Baroque predecessor. In the Alpine part of the country, walk through Plečnik’s Park near Begunje, see a hunting lodge in Kamniška Bistrica, which was made for the ruler of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Aleksander Karađorđević, and explore a staircase, a well, and arcades in the centre of Kranj.
In eastern Slovenia, even more Plečnik masterpieces await you. In Celje, he designed the People’s Savings Bank, today occupied by Banka Celje. In Zgornja Rečica near Laško, he cooperated on the construction of a church dedicated to the Blessed Anton Martin Slomšek, and in Maribor he renovated a square dedicated to him, i.e. Slomšek Square. Plečnik also left a strong mark in Bogojina, where the Church of the Ascension of our Lord stands out. It is a mix of influences from ancient architecture, conservation – Plečnik kept elements from the previous 14th century church – and folk art. This church encapsulates the essence of Plečnik’s architecture in an excellent way.
The exceptional creative opus of the genius Jože Plečnik has been nominated by the Republic of Slovenia and Czechia for inscription on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Come and take a cultural stroll through Slovenia
Take a stroll through Ljubljana and other Slovenian towns and cities and explore architectural and other incredible creations by Slovenian architects and artists. Explore UNESCO heritage and the iconic images of Slovenia.