Ljubljana’s landmarks designed by architect Jože Plečnik (1872-1957), including the Triple Bridge, Congress Square and Žale Cemetery, have been included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List in line with a decision adopted by the World Heritage Committee on Wednesday.
Slovenia submitted the bid in January 2020 after an earlier joint bid with the Czech Republic was abandoned. All of Plečnik’s major works in Ljubljana are thus included in the world heritage list, except for the dilapidated Bežigrad Stadium.
The country’s bid Ljubljana: The Timeless, Human Capital Designed by Jože Plečnik, covered the works that Slovenia’s most acclaimed architect completed during both world wars.
The decision of the World Heritage Committee comes after the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) positively assessed Slovenia’s bid on 4 June.
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 provincial town into a symbolic national capital.
According to ICOMOS, Plečnik’s approach is based on the reformist architectural movements of the early 20th century that is currently under-represented in the World Heritage List.
Špela Spanžel from the Ministry of Culture, who headed the task force preparing the nomination, said that the process that had led to this recognition had gradually started ten years ago, initially as a reflection on the value of Plečnik’s heritage.
“We believe that Plečnik’s Ljubljana illustrates in an exemplary way an approach to heritage that honours the achievements of the past and conceives the future tailored to the people, which means it very much reflects modern notions such as quality architecture and built environment, management, sustainability, beauty and a sense of space,” Spanžel said.
Slovenia’s bid was prepared by a group of experts in protection, preservation and management of cultural heritage in cooperation with the owners and managers of Plečnik’s landmarks. The process was led by the Ministry of Culture and coordinated by the Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO).
Slovenia already has four entries in the World Heritage List – heritage of mercury in Idrija, prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps, and ancient and primeval beech forests, and the Škocjan Caves.