Ljubljana Castle is a medieval castle complex overlooking Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. Located on Castle Hill, the dominant feature of the city skyline, it dates from the 11th century, although archaeologists believe the site was settled as far back as 1200 BC.
The original castle was believed to have been a wooden and stone fortification used for defensive purposes. In the 13th century, this was replaced with a stone fort and renamed Sponheim Castle.
In the 15th century, the castle structures were almost completely demolished and rebuilt. A new wall and towers were constructed at the entrance, along with a drawbridge. The chapel was also built at this time.
All the main buildings of the surviving castle were built or rebuilt in the 16th and 17th centuries after a devastating earthquake. The exception is the outer wall of the Chapel of St. George.
Expanding on its role as a defensive structure against Ottoman invasion as well as peasant revolt, the castle was used as an arsenal.
From 1815 to 1895, during which time Slovenia was part of the Austrian Empire, the castle was used as a prison; a role it resumed temporarily during the Second World War. The viewing tower was constructed in 1848, replacing the wooden tower, and completing the architectural structure of the castle.
Towards the end of the 19th century, the castle began to fall into serious disrepair. This was, in part, because of its age, but also because maintenance work had been neglected over the years as it gradually lost its importance as either a home of a nobleman or a fortification.
In the 1930s, the famous Slovenian architect Joe Plenik proposed building a new conical parliament to replace the castle. However, his work was only realised in relation to the redesigned remains of the fortifications.
In the late-1960s, extensive renovation works began which were to last more than 35 years. Architects oversaw the construction of a new and steeper roof, a higher watchtower, new access routes, and a defensive corridor around the perimeter of the former fortified walls, which linked the renovated structures together.
In the 1990s, the castle found a new use as a place for weddings and cultural events. In 2006, as the castle grew in popularity, it was connected with the historic city centre by a funicular railway.
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