Tivoli Park is the largest park in Ljubljana. With a history spread over 200 years, it was first made available to the public in 1813. Today it is a place frequented by tourists and locals alike, as it provides an escape to nature without actually having to leave the city. Although smaller in size, Tivoli Park is to Ljubljana what Central Park is to New York City or what Hyde Park is to London.
Picnics in Tivoli Park are widely encouraged, with more and more people choosing this site to relax in on lazy warm afternoons. Having gone there not on a sunny warm day but on an increasingly chilly one, I still found Tivoli Park to be very impressive and a walk there most enjoyable. Tivoli Park is connected to Rožnik, a hill of around 400m in height, perfect for a jog or a hike.
I started off in front of the Gallery of Modern Art, taking the stairs and arriving to Tivoli Park via a subway. A spectacular view opened up in front of me with a wide path leading straight up to Tivoli Castle. This path is lined on both sides with photographs, the space serving as an open-for-everybody outdoor photographic gallery. The exhibitions differ and have included photographers from all over the world, as well as Slovenian ones. Currently on is an exhibition titled Picture Slovenia, an ongoing photographic project intended to promote Slovenia and raise its international recognition. To date this project has featured over 4000 Slovenian and foreign photographers, produced 25 competitions and 40 exhibitions.
Whichever exhibition you come upon at Tivoli Park, the photographs featured are sure to impress you. I find the setting of the exhibition to further contribute to the photographs. Even on a murky rainy day, when it literally rains on the photographs, the exhibition is left better for it.
The exhibition will take you right to Tivoli Castle. If you’re like me, however, you’ll want to look at every single photograph and will thus end up right where you started. Not to worry, a quick jog up to the castle will solve this logistic problem! Before ascending the stars up to the castle (which really looks more like a mansion than any castle I’ve seen) I take some time to admire a fountain and 4 statues of dogs seemingly guarding the castle. Again, I am referring to this building as a castle solely because that is its official title, not as a descriptive term of the actual building.
The Tivoli Castle today is the home to the International Centre of Graphic Arts, regularly showing work from graphic artists, as well as the annual international event, the Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts. They are currently showing Alenka Pirman’s Collected Works, which is the first major solo exhibition of this Slovenian artist.
Just behind the mansion is a route leading to Rožnik. What I like about this hill is that the paths don’t just lead straight to the top of the hill but are all intertwined so you can easily walk there for hours and include Rožnik as part of your stroll through Tivoli Park. There are some signs showing the different routes around Rožnik, with numbers pointing out certain trees and plants. There are also smaller signs indicating which tree is of which sort. This is quite a fun part of the walk up the Rožnik hill, however these signs are only in Slovenian so they are of little help to tourists.
Tivoli Park is also the home of the Tivoli Greenhouse which, unlike with most admissions in Slovenia, is free to visit. Walking up to the entrance, I notice a sign saying it opens at 12noon. My watch shows that it’s only 11:35. Well, I guess I have some time to spare. This means I have to go to the children’s playground. I HAVE to. The circumstances made me do it. What do you mean, I’m too old for a children’s playground?!
Being one of the reasons for the ever-growing popularity of Tivoli Park, this playground has provided many generations of Ljubljana’s children with immeasurable fun. I take a general walk around the playground and even go down the slides a few times, all the while trying my best not to look like a creep amongst the children.
Twelve o’clock is indeed a magical time and so the greenhouse finally opens its doors to me and holy fish sticks, it’s hot in here! It smells like I’ve walked into a rain forest and with all the moisture in the air and the greenery around me, it feels that way too. I absolutely love it! There are two rooms: one with cacti and other desert-type plants, the other room looks more rainforest-y. That’s the extent of my plant knowledge. Don’t tell my mum.
On my way out of the park I stop at the Tivoli Pond, which is completely frozen over at this time of year. THE ONE TIME I left my ice-skates at home! This pond is used for fishing and as a backdrop for artists or simply a source of their inspiration, however swimming in it is not recommended (seriously, there’s a sign). There are also signs by the pond indicating what species live in it but again these are only in Slovenian. You can always look at the pictures.
If you have time to chill out in Tivoli Park, there are numerous benches to sit on and enjoy the park. If you’re by yourself, however, you might want to seek out a particular bench, one with the statue of Slovenian poet Edvard Kocbek on it. It’s perfect for an impromptu therapy session.