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Three Bridges in Ljubljana

Photo: Miran Kambič

The Three Bridges, three interlinked bridges in Ljubljana, are the work of the famous architect Jože Plečnik.

Ljubljana  has co-existed with its river, the Ljubljanica, for centuries. The Triple Bridge , dating from 1932, is one of the most important and beautiful architectural solutions devised by Jože Plečnik. It is one of those works that confirm that their architecture is eternal and not merely part of the present.

The bridge that we know today as the Triple Bridge stands on the site of older bridges. It is referred to in a document from 1280 as the "Old Bridge", a wooden structure that was the most important crossing of the Ljubljanica because of the road running towards Styria and Upper Carniola. It connected Town Square (Mestni trg) with the opposite, left bank. In 1842 the architect Giovanni Picca built the stone "Špital Bridge" on the site of the old wooden bridge, which had become dangerous. The new bridge was officially named the Franz Bridge after the Archduke Franz Karl. Following the great earthquake of 1895, Ljubljana received a large amount of financial aid to cover the costs of rebuilding. It was therefore decided to increase the capacity of the Špital Bridge, which had come through the earthquake relatively unscathed. 

The project was entrusted to the architect Jože Plečnik, whose Triple Bridge project pursued a number of aims: ensuring a respectful attitude towards the old, establishing the city's Mediterranean character, connecting the river to the city, carrying Prešeren Square across the Ljubljanica and reusing superfluous material. Plečnik built the old stone bridge into his own architectural composition, in this way demonstrating his respect for the exist-ing architecture. 

Plečnik gave his three bridges a uniform, coherent appearance by adding a Venetian-style balustrade reminiscent of the Rialto Bridge in Venice. He used the old iron railings in his arrangement of the Gerber Steps, along with some of the original stone. He placed spheres atop the new artificial stone balustrades in order to create the impression of peo-ple walking across the bridge. If you look towards the other balustrades when walking across the bridge, the effect of perspective means that the spheres appear to be moving in parallel with you, creating the impression that you are not alone on the bridge.

Text by Tanja Glogovčan