Beautiful places: Škofja Loka
The medieval town of Škofja Loka, which lies between Kranj and Ljubljana, is over 1000 years old, making it one of the oldest ones in Slovenia. Despite the fact that it is more than worth a visit, it is not really known to the »general« public. It is only half an hour’s drive from Ljubljana. Škofja Loka has a beautiful castle on a hill, in the center of the city, which has housed a museum since 1959. It is also a popular wedding location. Of course, you also have a beautiful view of the city and its surroundings from up there.
The location of this town is no coincidence. It is built on a spot where two rivers meet: the Poljanska Sora and the Seliška Sora. In addition to trade, the inhabitants lived there, through the water from both rivers, mainly from crafts such as sawmills, tannery rows, slaughterhouses, and blacksmiths, all organized in guilds (shoemakers, bakers, blacksmiths, etc.). In the center, the rich lived in beautifully decorated houses. In the main square, you can see a number of beautiful examples of these houses, such as the old town hall and the so-called »Homan« house, which is now a coffee house where you can enjoy a nice drink on the terrace. Most houses were built after 1511 because there was a severe earthquake in that year that destroyed almost the entire town, including the castle. The farther out from the town center, the poorer the inhabitants were. Outside the city walls, there were fields for agriculture.
In the beginning, the houses were of course mainly made of wood, because that was cheap. Only the richest people could afford a house made of stone. The buildings that were most important, such as the hay barn (which still stands today) were also made of stone. By the way, the attics of the wooden houses had no dividing walls, so that you could walk from one side of the city to the other through the attics without having to go outside. A big disadvantage of this was that when a fire broke out in one of the houses, the fire, through the open attics, could spread very quickly.
In the main square, there is a beautiful Baroque-style memorial, placed there in 1751 by residents, as a thank you that the city had remained protected against fire and the plague. Despite the fact that the plague was everywhere in the area at the time, the disease never really spread among the inhabitants of Škofja Loka. They simply did not allow a single person from the contaminated areas into the city (they didn’t have face masks yet;)). Instead, one special person was appointed to provide food and candles to the sick people outside the city walls.
In the city you can also see a few large parts of the old city wall. It was most likely built at the beginning of the 14th century and had several city gates and five watchtowers. The wall was largely demolished in the 18th century because it no longer had a function. The poorer residents used the wall to build their houses against so that they only had to build three walls instead of four, which of course saved in construction material :).
The first house within the city wall was usually a tavern, where weary travelers could eat and drink and find a place to sleep. In Škofja Loka, that house is still there to see and I think it is now a bar or something as well. It lies at the end of the main square, before you go up to the castle.
Fun fact: in front of the Homan house, there is a large lime tree, which was planted in 1934 as a tribute to the late King Alexander. The story goes that the residents of Škofja Loka were not happy with the tree and so they instructed their children to pee against the tree, hoping to dry it out in that way . That clearly did not work out, because it has become a beautiful, large tree where music evenings are regularly held in the summer with the appropriate name »Under de Lime tree«. The leaf of the lime tree is also the national symbol of Slovenia.