Ljubljana, Slovenia. June 2019

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Ljubljana Castle sits on the top of 375 meter hill, overlooking the city. In 1335 when the Habsburgs took over Slovenia, they demolished the fortress of the Spanheim family, which already stood on the hill, and in the second half of the 15th century started building a new one. At first it consisted of only walls, towers and wooden barracks, over the centuries the castle got the shape that it has today. Its purpose was to present an efficient defence against Ottoman invasions, which were the most frequent in the 15th and 16th century.

After the fall of the Napoleon in 1815, the castle was used as a military hospital, and then as a prison until the earthquake in 1895. During the WWI it became a quarantine station for prisoners of war from Italian front, and during the WWII it faced fascist and Nazi occupation. After the war ostracised citizens of Ljubljana lived in the castle in poor conditions, until 1963. In the 70s the renovation project began and today the castle is a popular tourist destination.

One can walk up to the castle, I took the funicular, operational since 2006, and I think it’s a great way to arrive at the castle. The castle viewing tower is said to provide great views over the city, however, to access it is via a spiral staircase of nearly a hundred steps, which I choose not to climb. There’s plenty to see inside the castle ground, aside from the views over the city, there’s the painted chapel, two museums, an open air prison, two restaurants and a cafe.

Regular readers of this site will know I love a puppet. In the grounds of the castle there is a permanent Museum of Puppetry. Puppetry has a great deal of significance for Slovenian culture and is an important part of Slovenian cultural heritage. The earliest puppets appeared in Slovenia in the 15th century, it is thought they were brought here from Asia Minor by invading Turks. Humorous puppet shows featuring simple hand puppets were held all over the country. These photos were taken through glass.

Sapra Mouse

Sapra mouse is one of the most popular fairy tales in Slovenia, written by Svetlana Makarovič, published as a book in 1976. It was first performed on the Grand Stage of the Ljubljana Puppet Theatre on 17 October 1986. It remained on the programme uninterrupted and was performed 1768 times.

Speckles the Ball

The puppet of Speckles the Ball is one of the most cherished artefacts from the Museum of Puppetry. It became part of the regular programme of the Ljubljana Puppet Theatre and was put on more than 1,300 times with the original puppet. Staying centre-stage for more than six continuous decades takes its toll, which is why Speckles the Ball was retired this year and a duplicate is now used.

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