When talking about a visit to Ljubljana, one of the first things people notice is the tržnica. Tržnica, or open-air market, is the central shopping place for the residents of the Old Town. It offers a lot of history and brings a down-to-earth culture to the city.
The osrednja ljubljanska tržnica or Ljubljana Central Market is the open-air market smack in the center of town. It’s a middle ground for every tourist hotspot in Ljubljana and accessible from all corners. If you’re visiting Ljubljana, a quick stop to the Central Market is a tradition.
The Ljubljana Central Market has a lot of history tied to it. It brings the people of Ljubljana together, mostly our shared love affair with food. Here’s everything you need to know about the Central Market and the tradition of tržnica.
The History of Ljubljana Central Market
While many markets have existed in Ljubljana throughout its multiple millennia of tradition, the Ljubljana Central Market didn’t exist until the 20th century. Specifically, the market came about between 1931 – 1939, with the building coming out between 1940 to 1942.
The market itself came from the designs of world-renowned architect Jože Plečnik. Plečnik was a native of Ljubljana and famous around Europe for his architectural wonders. Before his work, a monastery stood on its current grounds.
The old monastery and diocesan college for girls stood where the market is at the moment. The 1895 Ljubljana earthquake, however, changed the entire landscape of the Old Town. The Easter Earthquake struck the city with such ferocity, hitting it with a 6.1 magnitude quake.
Buildings fell down during this time, and the monastery and college razed to the ground. In the rubble of the former monastery, Vodnik Square emerged. It started the open-air market tradition in Ljubljana, at the time out of necessity.
Much of the market extended as far as 20000+ sq ft (1856+ sq m). Up until the 1940s, the open-air market offered everything. Even then, the residents also wanted a way to sell their wares indoor, especially meats.
Spoilage is a common issue for meats, and selling it outdoor induces disease pathogens. There was also the weather, which is generally sunny all year with bouts of chill. The current building beside the open-air markets is much smaller and offers a hygienic way to sell meats.
Plečnik wanted to build a bridge and fill the middle gap between the market halls. Even then, his design never came to fruition until 2010. The local government approved of the Butcher’s Bridge to fulfill his vision.
During the Second World War, the markets shrunk. The rationing and loss of economic power reduced the market into much less of what it was when it opened.
After World War II, the markets reopened and expanded. The Ljubljana Central Market followed the shape that we know today. Much of the market took on the open space on Vodnikov and Pogačarjev trg.
The markets covered the seminary ground floor too, filling a more significant need for a covered marketplace. Along with the colonnade shed of Plečnik’s markets, local handicrafts are typical side-by-side with the organic market on Pogačarjev trg. There’s also haberdashery and flowers available to everyone.
Finding Ljubljana Central Market
The Osrednja ljubljanska tržnica or Ljubljana Central Market is located near Krekov trg. It is north of Castle Hill and near famous monuments like the Dragon Bridge and the Triple Bridge. It sits on the right side of the Ljubljanica River and partly situated at Adamič–Lunder Embankment and at Pogačar Square.
The Central Market consists of the open-air market, where much of the wares and produce are sold. There is a covered market building behind the two square where meat and wares come. There’s also a series of food shops in the area where people can eat.
The Ljubljana Central Market is divided squarely into the outdoor market and the indoor market. Both have their own goods to sell, together with many unique flavors from in and around Slovenia.
From the opposite side of the river, the market colonnade features an exposed stone facade. The semicircular windows and classical columns remind us of many of Plečnik’s influences. The beautiful designs offer an impressive backdrop to the delicious produce.
The arcades hold a variety of herbs, souvenirs, arts, and crafts. The spices found in this area offer some of the most variety in Slovenia.
Shopping Around the Tržnica
A visit to the Ljubljana Central Market can net you all kinds of goods. Local goods, arts, and crafts are common in this side of town. It’s also an excellent place to stock up on products that are only available on the town’s outskirts.
For example, the tržnica carries some of the best quality karst prosciutto in Slovenia. They’ll also cost much lower compared to malls and delicatessens.
Fans of the traditional potica cake and horse pate can also find it here. Homemade bread is also available for those who want a good taste of home in Ljubljana. The general area even has coffee shops that have authentic Turkish coffee.
Outdoor Open Air Market
Much of the outdoor market offers a lot of foodstuffs common to Slovenia. Much like how farmer’s markets work, prices in the Central Market are lower than inside supermarkets. Much of the products are farm fresh, so buyers can enjoy a wide variety for sure.
When you visit, you will find fresh Slovenian fruit and vegetables. There is an endless variety of cabbages, peppers, lettuce, radishes, and more. Depending on what dish you want to make, you’ll likely find everything you need here.
For those who love exotic produce, the Central Market will have them too. The outdoor market is famous for its wide selection of tropical fruits and vegetables. Mangoes, apricots, nectarines, pineapples, and sugar apples are some exotics you can find here.
Apart from tropical fruits, the outdoor market also has dry-cured meat products on offer. There is also non-edible stuff here, including potted plants, balcony flowers, spices, and more.
Indoor Covered Market
The indoor market or Plečnik’s Covered Market is the two-story building beside the outdoor markets. In it, much of the fresh meat come in stock and available with professional butchers. A near-endless variety of meat cuts stay here to keep it fresh and hygienic.
Apart from the butchers, some shops offer a variety of Slovenian products. Baked goods, dry goods, spices, and ingredients come here, together with other catering establishments. The lower stories also have a fish market and resto.
On the Seminary Palace’s ground floor, you can buy more varieties of meats and cured meats. They also have local cheeses, dried fruits, nuts, olives, and more. You can also enjoy a visit to the local art gallery through the DobraVaga Art Gallery.
Ljubljana Antique and Flea Market
For those who are not too interested in food, there’s more than you can do in the tržnica. If you want some good sales, the antique and flea market is a good pick. You can find it along the embankment between the Triple Bridge and the Cobbler’s Bridge.
If you can go in the morning before 14:00, you’ll find a myriad of goods on display. Each Sunday, you’ll find furniture and antiques, many harkening back in the 70s. There’s also art, knick-knacks, bric a brac, and many curiosities.
Those who love their odds and ends would enjoy some memorabilia from the Yugoslav republic. It feels like an open-air museum every Sunday with many old coins, banknotes, and collectibles. For tourists who are visiting, these can be great odds and ends to take back home.
Ljubljana Central Market Open Kitchen
The Ljubljana Central Market has many events all year round. Almost every month, something is happening on the outskirts of the open-air market. There are even weekly events that you can visit.
For starters, an Open Kitchen event runs from mid-March until the end of October. The Pogačarjev trg hosts a unique food market where chefs come together to offer unique gustatory delights.
Slovenian restaurants offer foods from all over the world and have them on sale to the general public. The street food market is fabulous, with all types of colors and superb aesthetics. Any self-respecting foodie would love to eat here every chance they have.
The seating is very informal, with small, makeshift benches and outdoor tables too. The event offers a sampling of what Ljubljana has to contribute to the world.
Visiting the Ljubljana Central Market is a no-fuss affair. The general market is open between 6AM to 6PM on weekdays, and 6AM to 4PM on weekends during the summer. Rainy weather can make some open-air stalls close earlier than anticipated.
During the winter, all stalls open from 6AM to 4PM every day, with Sundays and holidays being the exception. The covered sections open a little later, from 7AM to 4PM on the weekdays and 7AM to 2PM on weekends.
The Ljubljana Central Market is a Slovenian tradition of old. The open-air markets offer some of the best products that Slovenia has to offer. If you’re visiting Ljubljana, this is the perfect opportunity to taste a little of what the country has to offer.
If you’re visiting the Ljubljana, give tržnica a quick visit. Bring an experienced tour guide with you to help you haggle around. They’ll even give you a look at the many things that Ljubljana has to offer.
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