When visiting Ljubljana, one of the highlights of the trip will likely be Tivoli Park. Slovenes and citizens of Ljubljana are proud of the park for its sheer scale. It’s also one of the places that any visitor will enjoy exploring in a sleepy afternoon.
Tivoli Park is Ljubljana’s largest and most beautiful park in the city. It stretches far into the city center, connecting a variety of locales. The park connects several outdoor locations surrounding Podturn and the Cekin Mansion.
Like any place in Ljubljana, it’s best to visit Tivoli Park with a guided tour. If you’re looking into spending some free time here, you need to know which areas to visit. Here’s everything you need to know about the magnificent Tivoli Park.
A Quick History of Tivoli Park
The history of Tivoli Park goes as far back as 1813. Around this year, French engineer Jean Blanchard built the area and laid out its plans. The idea was to connect several parks and outdoor spaces in the general vicinity.
At the time, Ljubljana was still a part of the French Illyrian Provinces. The Illyrian Provinces were autonomous locales that encompassed modern-day Croatia, Slovenia, Gorizia, and Austria. These provinces had Ljubljana as the capital.
During Blanchard’s planning, he took into consideration the Cekin Mansion and the Podturn Manor, now known as the Tivoli Castle. He wanted to link them to the downtown, creating a structure that made travel more convenient. The idea was to have tree-lined avenues while having a pleasant walking space.
The park got its name around the second half of the 19th century. The name Tivoli Park comes from the summer residence of the Casino Society. It had an amusement park, cafe, and a pub which opened near the Podturn in 1835.
Over time, more famous names tried to update the look and feel of the park itself. Once the French departed from the area, Austrian governor Latterman took over. He worked out the design work for the tree alleys, adding poplar and chestnut trees.
Until today, some of the poplar and chestnut trees governor Latterman planted still exist. These are famous in Ljubljana as Latterman’s alleys, recognized among the people at the time. By the 1850s, a railway cut through the park, disconnecting it as a whole.
Once the railway cut through Tivoli Park, the locale degraded and turned into an urban landscape. Much of the general area became present-day villas and museums, known as the Prešernova ulica or Prešeren Street.
Understanding the Layout of Tivoli Park
The general layout of Tivoli Park comes from tree alleys. Lithographs of the time touted Latterman’s tree alleys as essential to the park’s design. The most famous among them is Plečnik’s promenade, made by Jože Plečnik.
The promenade is now famous as the Jakopič Promenade or Jakopičevo sprehajališče. It is a renowned venue not only for outdoor exhibits but in large format photos too.
The promenade itself is an extension of the Cankar Road or the Cankarjeva cesta. It runs from the center of the city and ends around the older areas of the park. These areas feature the Tivoli Castle prominently, which allows the city-park connection.
Before the promenade materialized, its entire area was full of chestnut. It created a broader pedestrian locale, referred initially by people as the “Sahara.” After a few years, the promenade became an integral part of the park itself.
The interior design of the promenade was the use of terrazzo lights. The edge used kerbstones and benches to create a definite end, making Tivoli Castle a prominent visual treat.
Places To Go In Tivoli Park
Tivoli Park has many cultural landmarks. At 1,235 acres (5 sq. km), the park is the largest in Ljubljana. It connects many significant milestones in the area, creating a refreshing sprawl in the middle of the city.
The park has several areas you can visit, whether you’re a local or a tourist. Many of these locations have cultural significance in the history of Ljubljana and the entirety of Slovenia. Some of these include:
- Tivoli Castle, formerly known as the Podturn Manor
- Cekin Mansion
- Tivoli Hall
- Tivoli Pond
- Tivoli Greenhouse and Rose Garden
- Children’s Paradise Playground
- Various sculptures
The entirety of Tivoli Park oversaw the growth of Ljubljana into what it is today. It saw several wars and overlooked the Old Town. For tourists, going to Tivoli Park opens them up for more possibilities.
Tivoli Castle (Grad Tivoli) is the mansion at the Jakopič Promenade’s terminus, near the Rožnik District. It’s northwest of the city center itself, near Rožnik Hill. Visiting Tivoli Castle would give you a chance to visit more locales nearby.
Formerly known as the Podturn Manor, the structure itself is the venue for the International Center of Graphic Arts. Behind the manor is the Tivoli Hotel, an alpine-style building behind the mansion.
In between both buildings, the Jesenko Nature Trail is also accessible. For those who want a quick hike, the trail itself is only around 1.86 miles (3km). It offers plenty of shade during hot days while providing some warmth during winter days.
For those visiting Tivoli Castle, among the more noticeable landmarks are the cast-iron dogs. Austrian sculptor Anton Dominik Fernkorn created four of them and protected the castle grounds. They’re also the center of myths about the suicide of Fernkorn, which are definitively debunked.
Cekin Mansion is one of the most important local structures in Ljubljana. It’s well-known for housing the National Museum of Contemporary History.
The museum holds a variety of collections, mostly from the First and Second World War. It also contains mementos from the Socialist period of Slovenia, together with the Slovenian independence.
For those who would love a simple afternoon of history, visiting the Cekin Mansion is a good choice. Even without going inside the museum, tourists would enjoy seeing the exterior structure.
The mansion itself carries a modest Baroque facade, which is decadent to look at. In 1991, architect Jurij Kobe renovated the interior to match the Baroque exterior. He further improved on the Baroque decor, adding a communication tower and a loft space.
For visitors looking for new things to do, the Tivoli Hall (Hala Tivoli) is the place to go. Tivoli Hall is a structure made of twin multi-purpose indoor sports arenas opened in 1965. These halls house different events, depending on the time of the year.
One of the arenas offers a massive ice hockey arena with a seating capacity of 7,000 people. It’s home to the local HK Olimpija ice hockey club and hosts big concerts and events.
The other, smaller sports arena houses a basketball court with a seating capacity of 4,500 people. It is the second home for the KK Cedevita Olimpija, a local basketball team.
There are regular sporting events on these venues for both sports clubs. There are musicals and concerts all year round, together with international acts. Sports aficionados would love a quick visit to this venue to see how the local clubs play.
Tivoli Pond, Greenhouse, and Rose Garden
The Tivoli Pond, greenhouse, and rose garden are some great greenery to visit in Tivoli Park. They offer hours of relaxation for different visitors, whether it’s solo travelers or families.
The Tivoli Pond (Tivolski ribnik) is a man-made pond southwest of the park. The original dig happened in 1880, as a way to help create a reservoir of water for the area. It helped add more water that firefighters can use for the nearby Rožna Dolina.
Now, the entire pond has many native fish species, surrounded by a full tree line. While the ecosystem received severe damage from renovations, the local fauna is recovering fast. The pond itself has a magnificent vista in Spring and Fall.
While the Tivoli Pond houses the local fauna, the Tivoli greenhouse and rose garden handle the local flora. The gardens are under the guidance of the Ljubljana Botanical Gardens and operate northwest of Tivoli Park.
The greenhouse is full of tropical plants, with a rose garden right next to it. It contains over 160 types of roses, including the “Prešeren,” a Slovenian cultivar created in 2010.
Other Activities in Tivoli Park
The playground and statues around Tivoli Park are worth the quick visit. If you have children, a nice afternoon walk with the kids will allow them to see the local grounds. Kids can enjoy the mini-golf area, together with places to ride a bike.
The local sculptures are also all over Tivoli Park, which make it a great place to visit. These sculptures include the “Shepherd,” “Coexistence,” and a statue of Edvard Kocbek. There is also a bevy of cafes and restaurants at every corner for those who want a lazy afternoon sit.
Tivoli Park is one of the best and biggest parks, not only in Ljubljana but around Slovenia. Its natural beauty beautifully intermingles with creeping civilization. The park melds history into a sight to behold.
If you’re visiting Ljubljana, Tivoli Park is a must-see attraction for anyone. It carries much of the culture of the Old Town and its people. It brings forth the memories of a proud, beautiful city to anyone who wants to see it.
If you’re going to Tivoli Park, bring a tourist guide with you. A local guide can enhance the experience with their in-depth knowledge of the locale.