Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital, has been included on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List in line with a decision adopted by the World Heritage Commitee since 28 July 2021 with recognition of architectural works by Jože Plečnik (1872-1957). Slovenia submitted the bid in January 2020 after an earlier joint bid with Czech Republic was abandoned. Seven of Plečnik’s major works in Ljubljana are thus included in the world heritage list. The landmarks, among others, include the Triple Bridge (Tromostovje), Congress Square (Kongresni trg), and Žale Cemetery.
»The inclusion of Plečnik’s Ljubljana on the UNESCO World Heritage List is evidence that we are designing the city in Plečnik’s spirit, thus preserving and respecting his works and tradition. The registered projects are important not only for Ljubljana but also for the cultural heritage of all humankind,« says Mayor Zoran Janković on Municipality’s website. Slovenia’s bid that was titled ‘Ljubljana: The Timeless, Human Capital Designed by Jože Plečnik‘, covered the works that Slovenia’s most acclaimed architecct completed during both world wars.
International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) recognised Plečnik’s works in Ljubljana as an exceptional example of urban space design in accordance with the architect’s deeply human vision that transformed a former empire’s provincial town into a symbolic capital of a nation. »The architect Jože Plečnik contributed to this transformation with his personal, profoundly human vision for the city, based on an architectural dialogue with the older city while serving the needs of emerging modern 20th century society,« explains UNESCO its decision.
The listed property consists of a series of public spaces (squares, parks, streets, promenades, bridges) and public institutions (national library, churches, markets, funerary complex) that were sensitively integrated into the pre-existing urban, natural and cultural context and contributed to the city’s new identity. This highly contextual and human-scale urbanistic approach, as well as Plečnik’s distinctive architectural idiom, stand apart from the other predominant modernist principles of his time. It is an exceptional case of creating public spaces, buildings and green areas according to the vision of a single architect within a limited time, the limited space of an existing city, and with relatively limited resources.
UNESCO’s decision additionally reaffirms Ljubljana’s continuous work in bringing Plečnik’s heritage to the Slovenian people as well as to foreigners stopping in the city as either leisure or congress guests. There have been several successful projects of Ljubljana Tourism in promoting Plečnik’s architecture. In 2018, Ljubljana Tourism received an award the Emerging Europe Tourism Campaign of the Year for its Plečnik Campaign with which Ljubljana commemorated the 145th anniversay of master’s birth and the 60th anniversay of his death.
There are also very recognizable and acclaimed guiding tours, for example, the internationally awarded Moustache Tour takes to the history of Jože Plečnik, writer Ivan Cankar and painter Rihard Jakopič. And as Plečnik made his mark on Ljubljana in the same way as Gaudí, the guided walking tour Plečnik at First Glance as well as the bike tour Plečnik Cycling Route of his works are very popular among Ljubljana’s visitors. In Plečnik’s House one can see the architect’s home exactly as it was in his lifetime and view a permanent exhibition showcasing his work.