If you ask us, Kranj is one of the most pleasant cities in Slovenia. It is really an easy place to walk around and feed your curiosity for the past. Besides all of its cultural and historic attractions, it treats you well in terms of good food, laid back cafes, and views over the mountains, rivers and a gorge. This pretty town is calling for visitors!.
Photos: Samo Šmarčan
1. Get to know Prešeren
If you are from Slovenia, you will most likely connect Kranj with the greatest Slovene poet France Prešeren (1800-1849), who lived and also died here. Marked by the spirit of the 19th century Romantic period, his poems are deeply woven into the Slovene culture and national identity. So deep, that every Slovene knows at least one or two of Prešeren’s verses.
A Toast (Zdravljica)
God’s blessing on all nations,
Who long and work for that bright day,
When o’er earth’s habitations
No war, no strife shall hold its sway;
Who long to see
That all men free
No more shall foes, but neighbors be.
France Prešeren wrote some high quality epic poetry, for example the first Slovene ballad and the first Slovene epic. After his death, he became the leading name of the Slovene literary canon. His poem ‘Zdravljica’ (A Toast), the Slovene national anthem, celebrates friendship between all nations.
2. So – make a toast!
Prešeren moved to Kranj almost at the end of his life (1846), where he finally managed to start his own law practice. It is said that he was more committed to helping out the locals with free legal advice then making good money as a lawyer. Unfortunately, due to his inability to cope with a rejection of his great love and muse Julija, a known Ljubljana socialite, here he continued with the excessive drinking. He was struck with liver disease and died on 8 February 1849. Upon his deathbed he confessed that he had never forgotten Julija.
A true romantic he was! And Kranj is a perfect place to raise a glass for his soft and good heart, calling out to friendship between all nations!
Walking through Kranj, this charming town offers a mosaic of cultural and historic marks.
Prešeren’s story in Kranj
– Prešeren’s Memorial House (The restored Prešeren House with some original furniture; it has two entrances – from Tavčarjeva 8 and at Prešernova Street 7)
– Prešeren Theatre, with a great Prešeren’s statue at the square in front
– Prešeren Prize Winners’ Gallery (in the Pavšlar House at the Main Square, Glavni Trg 18)
– Stara pošta Inn where the great poet uset to hang out (today Panorama Stara Pošta lounge bar, Koroška street 2),
– Prešeren’s Grave in Prešeren Grove (Prešernov Gaj), about 500m to the north of the city.
3. Visit the city market
You can find the city market near the Church of St Cantianus and its most busy day is Saturday (this is also when we were there). Even though some locals are not quite happy with the present market location, we quite liked it. The market is also located near renowned bar Mitnica (above the canyon of the Kokra river), where after buying some freshly produced local goods you can stop for a laid back coffee, tea or glass of wine.
Kranj open market operates from mid March to mid October, Monday through Saturday 6 am till 2 pm.
4. Enjoy the stunning views
Kranj is the administrative and cultural center of Gorenjska, the region of Slovenia at the foot of the Alps (in order to get to Lake Bled, Lake Bohinj and Vintgar Gorge, you would have to pass Kranj). The city is on the north side surrounded by the peaks of the Karavanke Mountains, while the Sorško polje plain extends to the south of the city. Also, it stands at the confluence of the Kokra and Sava rivers. Therefore, there really is a lot of scenery to take in.
Almost 30m deep river Kokra’s gorge is a remarkable natural feature that cuts right through the ancient town center. You can hike along the gorge, and make your day in Kranj even more spectacular!
5. Walk the Tunnels
The tunnels under the Old Town Kranj were constructed during the Second World War. Their purpose was to protect the citizens from bombing.
For a visit you need to make a prior arrangement at Kranj’s Tourist office. The guided tour takes around 45 minutes. The visitors love the fact that it is something different from the usual tourist attraction. Additionally, there are several events such as wine tastings, Halloween festivities and a Christmas nativity scene – that take place in the tunnels (mostly in October, November and December).
Visit the office of Visit Kranj at the address Glavni trg 2. They will happily give you all the information about Kranj and its great sights!
Additional information: You can also rent a bicycle and see Kranj on two wheels. Splendid!