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History & culture

The parish church of St.Kancijan

A triple-nave church, i.e. a hall type from the beginning of the 15th century is the most important building in the town’s veduta and is one of the most important monuments in Gothic architecture in Slovenia as well as a model for many later churches (Radovljica, Škofja Loka, Kamnik, Šentrupert na Dolenjskem). Archaeological research performed in 1972 and1984 showed that already in the pre-Slavonic era a sacral building stood in the place of today’s Gothic church dedicated to the martyrs of Oglej: the saints Kancij, Kancijan, Kancijanila and Prot. The presbytery of today’s church was built onto an older nave in 1413 and is a classical example of the so-called long choir. In the middle of the 15th century the older nave was replaced by a Gothic hall with polygonal columns. Gothic rib vaults are connected with figuratively as well as aesthetically richly decorated keystones. The church is wonderfully complemented by frescos of angels with instruments made around 1460 by the “Žirovniški master”.

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The Brdo Castle

The central monument of the estate Brdo, today used for protocol purposes, is a Renaissance fortified castle built in the place of an older one in 1510 by the Gorica provincial governor and Viceroy Jurij Egkh. The Egkhs arranged the first orchards, ponds and a garden. In the second half of the 17th century the castle came under the possession of the Counts Schrottenbach and Gallenberg; later in the middle of the 18th century the family Zois became the owner and kept the estate until 1928. In 1935 Prince Pavle Karadžordžević bought the castle, and after the Second World War Josip Broz Tito chose it for his residence. During this period the castle was thoroughly reconstructed under the guidance of the architects Vinko Glanz and Igor Lunaček and so lost most of its Renaissance form, but gained a rich collection of furniture, carpets and arts. Tito’s living quarters with a reference workroom and a library with numerous incunabula are also preserved. The castle is surrounded by a large park that underwent several rearrangements since the 15th century.

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Khislstein castle and country mansion

The building is an indispensable part of the town’s silhouette at the edge of the conglomerate promontory, rooted in the town’s defence walls and reflecting centuries of architectural development. Its foundations hide early and late antique walling and defence mechanisms of the fifth and the sixth centuries. The frame of the castle was expanded in width, length and height, from a palladium of the Ortenburg dynasty in the middle of the 13th century to a Renaissance town palace of the Khisl family, after which the building still bears its name (Janž Khisl from Fužine bought the castle in 1578). Subsequent owners were the aristocratic families Mosconi, Ravbar, Apfaltrer, Auersperg and at the end, Natalis Pagliaruzzi. The newest part of the building is the courtyard tract with arcade passageways, made during reconstructions in the 18th and 19th centuries. Many quality architectural elements are preserved in the castle, among which the courtyard and main portal made around 1578 and partially preserved frescos with the motives of veduta (in the green room) particularly stand out. The country mansion (Tomšičeva 42) consists of two buildings connected with an arcade passageway which also used to belong to the castle. More important though is the building at the edge of the promontory with its core is most likely a part of the defence system, maybe even a smaller fortification unit in this part of the town, and which originates in late antiquity. In the archaeological ground floor archaeologists found remains of casting kilns supplementing an antique glazier’s workshop found in the courtyard between the castle and the mansion.

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The Chapel of St.Peter under the hill Šmarjetna gora

According to the date on the western portal, it was long thought that the chapel was built in the 17th century, but thorough research performed during the last reconstruction showed that the core of the chapel had already been constructed in the 11th century or even earlier. The manner of construction with stone hewing and grouting indicate a Romanesque construction of the 11th, 12th and partly 13th centuries, while stones dating from the Roman era were used for the construction of the corners. The architrave of the southern entrance is also Roman, which according to the semicircular shape and the size, is also dated as Romanesque. The rectangular nave was at first illuminated by only two small circular windows (oculus) widening into to the inner part, resembling a funnel. The windows are carved from a single piece of stone and are unique in the area of Gorenjska. The altar part was at first a semi-circular apse which became too small in the 14th century and was then extended into a threeeighths concluded presbytery. The nave was elevated and covered with a new roof with a rooftop belfry and consecrated in 1645 in an attempt to delete the traces of the era when the chapel was used for religious ceremonies by Protestants. The interior was enriched with a wooden painted ceiling.

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The ossuary

The chapel with the ossuary has stood at the cemetery by the present parish church of St. Kancijan since the 13th century. The benefice of the ossuary chapel was managed by the noble family Egkh of Brdo near Predoslje at the end of the 15th century. During the reforms of Joseph II (1789) the cemetery by the church was abandoned and moved to another site (see Prešeren’s grove), and the ossuary chapel was demolished. After years of archaeological excavations from 1970 to 1975 and in 1984 and after endeavours to present the finds, today the ossuary is arranged by the architectural remains of a lateantique baptistery. The key to the ossuary, hidden under the pavement of the square behind the Church of St. Kancijan, is kept at the reception of the Gorenjska museum in the City Hall.

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Kranj's defence walls

Located on a conglomerate promontory, between the steep canyons of the rivers Sava and Kokra, the town was naturally well protected and thus appealing for settlement from as far back as the stone age (4th millennium B.C.), but because of its strategic position by the entrance to the Gornjesavska valley it had to be protected during various historical periods with defence walls and towers. The city was most vulnerable in the north where the remains of a prehistoric defence moat from the 7th century B.C. are archaeologically confirmed, while the medieval defence walls were ten meters wide (along today’s Reginčeva street). The entire length of the town’s defence walls was 870 meters and additionally fortified with nine towers; one is partially preserved on Škrlovec and has distinct architectural elements of the 15th and the early 16th centuries. These are characteristic of the defence works of Prince Frederick III at the end of the Turkish invasions into the Zgornje Posavje region (1471, 1473, 1475, 1478, 1480, 1483 and 1491). The defence tower on Škrlovec also served to store armoury.

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Layer's house

Leopold Layer, one of the most prolific Slovene painters at the turn of the 18th century worked in a storied house at the turn of the 18th century near Khislstein. The house draws our attention with its picturesque frontage, decorated with classicistic stucco ornaments and complemented by a stone portal and a decoration with a baroque feel under the jutting roof. Even more valuable is the interior which on the first floor reveals a bath-shaped arched room painted in the beginning of the 19th century with personifications of art accompanied by a portrait of the artist or perhaps the architect. The arch above the staircase is also painted; in 1840 Jurij Tavčar painted a man with an ox yoke here. A terraced garden accessible from the house through a large storied arcade will also prove intriguing after its renovation.

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City Hall

The City Hall’s present form was made by joining two buildings, the older corner building (a clock tower and a classicistic colonnade shed) and a newer building on the square Glavni trg, where the entrance is today. The most interesting part of the corner building is a late-Gothic colonnade hall dating back to the first half of the 16th century, which you can now enter through the entrance hall and a former black kitchen. On fair days this room was used for events and most likely also for storing goods. The newer building, leaning closely against the older one is better known, with its emphasized spindle in the façade part and a hall on the first floor (today’s wedding hall) that dates back to 1638 and furnished with a wooden coffered ceiling and two marquetry portals. It is one of the finest Renaissance castles from the 16th and 17th century in Slovenia.

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Tollhouse

One of the most important buildings in Kranj is the tollhouse built in 1527. The building represents an early form of town house with console-supported upper stories, which appeared in our area in the first half of the 16th century. The upper storey leans on segmented stony consoles supported by a polygonal shaped stone column. The building has in later periods often been restored, and today its most important artistic elements are: a rich edging made using a graphite technique on the first floor of the bulding’s facade, a quality signboard with Kranj’s coat-of-arms, the ground plan and arches inside.

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Pavšlar's house

An old town house, probably constructed soon after 1550 by connecting two or even three older buildings with a picturesque arcade passageway lies in a central position on the square Glavni trg (opposite the Town Hall), attesting to the nobility of its previous owners as well as today’s usage (the Prešeren Prize-winners Gallery) and position. Today’s building took shape after research, static reinforcement and restoration works performed from 1989 to 1992. The basic functional division of the town house into ground floor offices and living quarters on the first floor was maintained for centuries. A high living standard is proven by the crested arches in the entrance hall, a wooden renaissance ceiling on the first floor, clay brick flooring shaped in a comb and above all, the impressive frescos inside and on the house frontage.

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Prešeren memorial museum

When Dr. France Prešeren (1846-1849) lived here, the house was owned by Franc Mayr, a merchant and brewer. The house was rearranged into a museum in 1964 according to the design of the architect Tone Bitenc. On the frontage there is a memorial plaque, unveiled on the centenary of the poet’s birth. The house comprises two parts that were joined in the 17th century, first with a wooden and later, stone arcade hallway. A painting from the 19th century was discovered on the ground floor after the last renovation on the bicentenary of the poet’s birth (2000). Art exhibitions and smaller cultural events take place here, while on the first floor there is a memorial museum with the poet’s original works and valuable early prints as well as a room furnished with original furniture.

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Prešeren's Grove

The cemetery by the parish church in the old town centre was abandoned in 1798 and burials moved to a new cemetery outside the city walls. In the years immediately prior to the Second World War, burials at that cemetery ceased as well and in 1951 the cemetery was rearranged into a memorial park according to the design of the architects Marjan Šorli and Ruška Ogorevc. The most important monuments in the park are: the tombstone of poet Dr. France Prešeren dated 1852 (made by Ignacij Toman jr.), the tombstone of poet Simon Jenko (1873, made by Janez Vurnik), Majdič’s vault with marble relief “Resurrection” (1910, Ivan Zajc) and a memorial to the Bazovica victims and Vladimir Gortan shot in Pulj, which is one of the earliest memorials to the victims of fascism in Europe (1931).

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Plečnik's arcades and fountain

The architect Jože Plečnik had planned to make a monumental entrance into the town. He transformed the steep slope into a staircase and replaced the former well (called “šterna”) with an obelisk, at the top of which there is a bronze rooster from which the water runs into stone, terraced vessels. The fountain is an interpretation of the Garden of Eden at Hradčany, Prague.

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Pungert with the two towers and the church

Somehow at the edge of the main traffic flow of the city at the tip of the promontory (the square Trubarjev trg) lays the tract of Pungert. The name itself tells us originating (from the German word Baumgarten - orchard) that this used to be the gardens of townsmen and maybe also a refuge for people from the surrounding areas at times of fire or other danger. Such sites can also be found in other medieval towns (e.g. Radovljica). The only wholly preserved medieval defence tower dating back to the 16th century, preserved after later reconstructions and serving as the town’s dungeon (1832) and later, even for housing purposes stands on Pugert today. In the immediate vicinity of the tower a Gothic rib-vaulted branch church was built during the plague in the 15th century and dedicated to the patrons against deadly disease, St. Fabian, St. Sebastian and St. Rok. The bell tower and the shed were added to the building in the 18th and 19th centuries respectively.

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Slovenski trg

In 1924 the architect Ivan Vurnik built the Narodni dom (National Home). After the Second World War it was strongly remodelled and renamed the Delavski dom (Workers’ Home). It was located adjacent to Zvezda park situated there at the time to the east and adjacent to the grammar school (1879) in the west. The building that was built in the northern part of the square during the Second World War serves today as the town hall. It follows German architectural patterns. After the war the square changed its name to the Revolutionary Square. The architect Tepina remodelled it into an open space and decorated it with statues by the sculptor Lojze Dolinar. After independence a Slovenian lime tree was planted in the middle of the square. The square was renamed the Slovenian Square. In the northern part of the square the architect Edvard Ravnikar designed the town hall of the City Municipality of Kranj (1958 - 1960). Together with the eastern part of the Pokojninski dom (Pension Home) and the Brioni ground floor restaurant it forms a lively and attractive square. In the north-eastern part Ravnikar designed a building where the Agency of Payment Transactions had its headquarters (1961 - 1962). Following Ravnikar’s plans a business and commercial centre with the Creina hotel (1970) and the Globus department store (1972) were constructed in the southern part of the square along Koroška street. In the northern square a relief of Kranj designed by Stane Kolman was set up in 2007. It was made for tourists but also helps those who are blind or vision-impaired.

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Fun fact: long sporting tradition The city has a long sporting tradition. Athletes achieve superior results in the largest sports competitions in the world. In 144 societies and sport clubs practicing and competing over 5500 active players and over 11,000 recreational athletes.

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