Roughly a thousand years ago, the town of Skofja Loka was founded at the mouth of the rivers Poljanska Sora and Selska Sora. One of the oldest and most beautifully preserved settlements in Slovenia, this charming medieval town is regularly visited by tourists from Ljubljana.
Many organize a day trip to the town, which is so small that there are only two small squares. Nevertheless, it boasts a rich cultural heritage as well as its unspoilt landscapes that captivate tourists. It is also nicknamed the "variegated Loka" because of the colourful facades of its houses.
Map - Where is Skofja Loka?
Skofja Loka is approx. 45 minutes (by car) from Ljubljana to the north-west. The city is not part of any national park. The nearest big cities are Cerkno and Bled. The town is an ideal resting place if you want to stop somewhere between Ljubljana and Bled.
- Distance from Ljubljana: 45 minutes / 30 km
- Distance from Cerkno: 1 hour / 40 km
- Distance from Bled: 45 minutes / 40 km
About the city
Archaeological research suggests that the city’s history dates back to the 20th century BC. Traces of the oldest settlement here have been excavated from this period.
During the great migration, Slavic tribes came to the countryside and settled here. Today, the settlement was once the center of the Loka estate and has been owned by the archbishops of Freising for 830 years.
If somewhere, it is really worth taking part in an organised sightseeing tour in Skofja Loka, because there are so many legends and stories attached to its streets and buildings that only these can really make the journey complete.
Legend has it that the first lord of Skofja Loka was Prince Abraham of Bavaria, who crossed the Poljane Valley with his black-skinned servant when a bear jumped in front of them from the bush. The prince could not move in horror, but the servant spread the beast with his bow. When they returned to the castle, the prince ordered that the face of his saviour be immortalised in the coat of arms of the city.
#1 Castle of Skofja Loka
Above the mouth of the two rivers, a beautiful castle was built on a natural terrace, and below it the settlement began to develop and grow. Skofja Loka Castle is still one of the most beautiful in the country and has one of the most valuable museum collections.
The existence of the castle is first reported in a 13th century source. At that time it served as the administrative center of the archdiocese. Like the rest of the city, the castle was rebuilt after the earthquake of 1511, and its current layout dates from this time.
The Loka Museum in it was opened in 1959. Here we can get to know the local history, fine arts and ethnography through comprehensive exhibitions.
Particularly valuable pieces are the remains from the Paleolithic period, the II. The founding document issued by Emperor Otto, as well as models illustrating the development of the city from the Middle Ages to the present day. One of the exhibits showcases the city’s very first guilds, and the art collection is housed in the basement.
From the castle you can enjoy panoramic views of the snow-capped mountains, the green forests and fields around the town, and the town of Skofja Loka itself.
The most famous attraction of Skofja Loka is the castle, but it is worth seeing further. It would be premature to end the sightseeing here, as the old town is also full of treasures to explore.
#2 Homan house
One of the most famous buildings in the city is the Homan House, located at the former northern city gate overlooking the Selska Valley. It is a civic castle, which was also rebuilt after the earthquake of 1511, as indicated by the year 1529 below its balcony.
The coat of arms of Skofja Loka can be seen on the house.
#3 Skofja Loka Bridge
The promenade through the old town starts from the Capuchin Bridge and goes to the Upper Square. The stone bridge was built in the 14th century by order of Bishop Leopold. The grimace of fate was that once the bishop rode through it, his horse curled up and he fell into the water from the unrestricted bridge and drowned.
The bridge was renovated in 1888, when the railings were built on it. In the middle of it, there is a statue of St. John of Nepomuk with the coat of arms of Skofja Loka on its plinth.
One of the most important architectural heritage of Skofja Loka is the granary, which existed even before the earthquake of 1511. Bishop Philip ordered its complete renovation, as evidenced by the late Gothic bishop's seal built into the wall of the granary.
The granary, originally built into the city wall, was vital to the landlords, as the crops collected as taxes from the peasants were stored here. Today we can see an exhibition of works by France Mihelic, a pizzeria, a winery and a restaurant in the basement.
#4 Main Square
Mestni trg still plays a central role in the lives of city dwellers today. It is the heart of the town, used by the locals just as the inhabitants used the main squares of the cities many hundreds of years ago.
Most of the buildings in the square are in the late Gothic style, most of them built after the earthquake in the mid-16th century. One of the ornaments of the square is the Holy Trinity Column, erected after the plague of 1571 in gratitude to the Virgin Mary.
#5 Pustal village
Its residents used to do two activities in the past: making combs and catching frogs. Due to their occupation, the inhabitants of the neighboring settlements also made fun of them, but the Pustula people did not let go, the Skofjaans were teased to be smojaks because of the turnips they traditionally grew.
The Pustal Trail is approx. It starts from the main square of Skofja Loka, 2 km long, in front of buildings with an interesting historical background, and then reaches the “Devil’s Footbridge” on the river. In Pustal, you can reach the Nace House by road, and then the castle on the hill above Hribec.
#6 House of Nace
Crossing the river, already outside the town, in the village of Pustal, it is worth heading to the House of Nace. It was owned by Iggani Homan, who was mentioned by his neighbours only as Nace. The house is completely intact, except for the renovation.
During its renovation in the middle of the 18th century, it gained its present-day Baroque appearance, but the time of its construction was much longer, approx. It can be done 200 years earlier.
This is indicated by the stone details in the cellar and the smoky kitchen still in use today. In addition to the furniture in the house, you can also see personal items that have lived here for centuries. The house functions as an ethnographic museum, so it can be viewed. Those arriving in the group will also be treated to food baked in the 400-year-old oven.
There are also sights around Skofja Loka. On the other side of the river lies Pustal, which many do not consider to be an independent settlement, although throughout its history it has always belonged to other lords than Skofja Loka. Because of this, it has a different heritage, a different culture.
#7 Cmgrob Church
Not far from Skofja Loka is the famous Cmgrob Church, which has become famous for its beautiful frescoes.