National and University Library of Slovenia
Visit the National and University Library of Slovenia (Narodna in univerzitetna knjižnica) to marvel at one of the finest achievements of the acclaimed Slovene architect Jože Plečnik. Built between 1936 and 1941, this imposing landmark covers almost an entire city block. It mimics the former Ducal Mansion, which stood on the same spot until an earthquake destroyed it toward the end of the 19th century. The National and University Library of Slovenia itself dates back to 1774.
Walk around the perimeter of the building to get a sense of its enormity. Note its rectangle shape, the balustrades, pilasters and open brickwork and embedded stone. A key artistic feature is the use of protruding windows, which are said to represent open books.
At the side entrance on the building’s eastern side, see a statue of Moses by locally born sculptor Lojze Dolinar. In front of the western side is a small courtyard decorated with statues of Slovene composers and linguists. Nearby see a bust of the national poet Simon Gregorčič.
Step inside the main entrance to see a dark staircase encased in black marble. Climb the steps to a magnificent colonnade bathed in daylight that floods through the windows. This represents a journey from the darkness of ignorance to the light of knowledge.
The library’s main reading rooms are accessible only to library members and via limited guided tours. Reserve a spot on the scheduled monthly tour and check out the exhibition room to browse temporary expositions on topics such as Slovene history and fine art.
Located in Ljubljana’s city center, the library is just a 5-minute walk from Congress Square. Public buses stop nearby and parking is available, for a fee, on the surrounding streets.
The National and University Library of Slovenia is open from Monday to Saturday, except for select national holidays. Admission is free. Visit the library’s official website to find an exhibition schedule and information about monthly guided tours in English.