preseren statue ljubljana

Most Famous Slovenian National Figures and Celebrities

National figures and celebrities are important for every country for sure. Some of them are well-known only inside a country, and others became famous worldwide. A usual thing, but you will be impressed by how much there are such people in Slovenia. Moreover, some names you heard from the mass media almost every day. 

The list of famous Slovene people highly depends on the field you are looking in. For the average American, maybe, the most famous name is Melania Trump, or its original name Melanija Knaus. However, there is much more. Among them are philosopher Slavoj Zizek, musician Slavko Avsenik, writer France Preseren and many sportsmen.

There are 2,102,678 of the population inside the country. They are living in 62 towns and a number of villages. On the other hand, there are 0.5-1 million Slovenians around the world. They are developing their culture, establishing Slovenian organizations, saving their national identity even in a foreign environment. From all these people, the Slovenian nation created a decent heritage of famous active people. Therefore, we propose to check a few of their personalities as well as their art, achievements, and role in the modern world. Let’s go!

Melania Trump

For sure, it’s a popular request for the list of famous Slovenians. If so, let’s consider the case quickly. Melania Trump, but then she was Melanija Knaus, was born Novo Mesto, on 26 April 1970. At that time, Slovenia was a part of Yugoslavia.

Now, she is the First Lady of the United States and the wife of the current President of the USA, Donald Trump. When she was a teenager, the girl moved to Sevnica. After that, she lived in an apartment in Ljubljana when she was a student.

Melania was fond of photography and studied in Secondary School of Design and Photography in Ljubljana. Also, she studied architecture and design at the University of Ljubljana, but after one year of education, she dropped it.

Her career started in the role of a fashion model. She worked in agencies of Milan and Paris and, after that moved to New York City in 1996. In 2001, Melania became a permanent resident of the United States. Melania married his love, Donald Trump, in 2005 and therefore obtained the citizenship of the United States in 2006.

France Prešeren

He is the most important personality for the entire Slovene nation. His poem is now used for a national hymn of the Republic of Slovenia. There is Prešeren Day, a public holiday celebrated on 8 February. The cultural holiday was established in 1945 in order to raise the cultural consciousness about the national identity of a Slovenian person after World War II, however, it was declared and proclaimed as a work-free day in 1991. There is the Grand Prešeren Award, that is the highest prize for the biggest contribution to the Slovenian artists’ life. It is awarded every year on the Prešeren Day by the Prešeren Fund.

So, what did he do for the entire Slovene nation? First of all, France spread the Slovenian culture around the world. The evidence of this can be the fact that his poems were translated into English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Hungarian, Slovak, Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, Belorussian, Bengali, as well as to all the languages of former Yugoslavia. Moreover, he introduced new genres to Slovenian literature. For instance, he wrote the first Slovene ballad and the first Slovene epic.

France was considered as the chief representative of the Romantic school in Slovenia. Undoubtedly, his pieces were full of emotions, sentiments, and deep meanings. Furthermore, he was one of the greatest European Romanticists, as he was recognized not only regionally, but as one of the developers of European literature standards.

Nevertheless, he became famous only after his death on 8 February 1849 at the age of 48. Only in 1866, when Josip Jurčič and Josip Stritar published a new edition of his collection of poems, they spread fame about France. In that edition, Stritar published an essay in the preface, where he described the value of Prešeren’s books in the wider context of the European literature. Later, the essay was considered as one of the most influential essays in Slovene history.

Slavoj Žižek

He is a famous philosopher of today. Now, Slavoj is a researcher at the Department of Philosophy of the University of Ljubljana and the international director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities of the University of London. He is also the Global Eminent Scholar at Kyung Hee University in Seoul, as well as the Global Distinguished Professor at New York University.

Slavoj Žižek is listed in the Top 100 Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy journal, where they called him “a celebrity philosopher”. His concepts are mainly based on Lacanian psychoanalysis and Hegelian idealism. He works in such areas as continental philosophy, psychoanalysis, political theory, cultural studies, art criticism, film criticism, Marxism, Hegelianism, and theology.

Slavko Avsenik

The most famous one is “Na Golici”, which became the second national hymn. Moreover, it was declared as the most played instrumental piece of music in the world over the last century by the German royalty collection agency GEMA in 2003. The secret of such is the fact that it is not just Slavko’s song; it is the song of family, culture, and tradition. 

Avseniki is an ensemble created by two brothers: Slavko and Vilko. They brought their unique personalities as well as strong family links in their music. This kaleidoscope of human emotions connected to national traditions passed from generation to generation was touching the hearts of the whole Slovenian population. Furthermore, not only them, because Avseniki were recognized as the most performed and the best-sold authors of popular folk music in Europe. This fact meant that they found not only the notes of Slavic identity but uniting melodies of the whole European nation.

After the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia broke in the 1990s, Slovenian folk music got a possibility of fresh breath. From that time, folk mixed with a variety of genres and brought such unpredictable experimental projects like Magnifico or Terrafolk. The trends of modern-day are not to imitate the West but to borrow slightly, bringing their own identity to the Western culture, not vice versa.

However, the very first one who made Slovenian folk popular worldwide was Slavko Avsenik.

Jože Plečnik

This person was a famous Slovene architect. He designed a lot of buildings in Vienna, Prague, and Ljubljana. For example, in Ljubljana, his pieces of art can be considered as the Triple Bridge, the Slovene National and University Library building, embankments along the Ljubljanica River, the Ljubljana open market buildings, the Ljubljana cemetery, as well as different parks and plazas.

The architect worked also on Prague Castle. It is believed that he definitely influenced the avant-garde Czech Cubism. Also, there were several projects in Vienna and Belgrade as well. Moreover, he is one of the founders of the Ljubljana School of Architecture.


Furthermore, there are a number of famous Slovenian sportsmen that I decided to group here. They include:

·         Tina Maze, who is the most successful Slovenian ski racer. She got two gold medals at the 2014 Winter Olympics;

·         Petra Majdič is a former cross-country skier. She won 24 times in World Cup races.

·         Goran Dragić is the most successful Slovenian professional basketball player. Now, he is on a team of the Miami Heat of the National Basketball Association.

·         Anže Kopitar is the most successful Slovenian professional ice hockey player, who is now the captain of the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League.

Author’s Personal Recommendation

As a fan of rock music, I found it important to mention Panktri, a punk rock band from Ljubljana with its founders Gregor Tomc and Peter Lovšin. They proclaimed themselves as “The First Punk Band Behind The Iron Curtain,” and it was true because they are one of the first punk music groups formed in a communistic country as well as one of the most important rock bands in Yugoslavia.

Luckily enough, Yugoslavia was quite open if to compare with other communistic countries. Therefore, popular at that time, punk rock from the United Kingdom found its place in the hearts of Yugoslavians. Moreover, the Slovenians were the first ones to understand this. So, the ideas that were wandering in the heads of the majority found their representations in punk rock. That is how Ljubljana became the center of Yugoslav punk and rock music.

Panktri became one of the first bands to push this movement. Two friends were highly inspired by Sex Pistols created their own Ljubljana pistols. Furthermore, they were lucky enough to release their first album in the times when Yugoslavia was on the great change because the one and only dictator passed, so people were ready to hear all the ideas of freedom. 

They played for 10 years at that time and influenced not only people from Yugoslavia but out from the country as well.

If you never heard about this band, but you are a fan of punk music, you definitely should check their music.

Thank you for reading our article. We do our best to provide you with first-hand information about Slovenia and its wonders. We know we are not infallible though. In case you encounter any mistakes in our articles or you have any suggestions, please contact us. Let us know how we could improve. It will help us to keep our information updated and deliver to readers the most valuable possible content.  We will gladly take your suggestions!

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