Located just a short ride from Slovenia’s capital, historic Škofja Loka is the best-preserved medieval town in Slovenia. Narrow streets, charming buildings, and a castle surrounded by hills and forest, create the fairytale-like appearance of the town. Škofja Loka gained city rights in 1274, and with that, became a vibrant craftsman and economic center of the region. After a devastating earthquake in 1511 that damaged nearly every building in town, Škofja Loka was successfully renovated and has not changed in appearance since. This preservation presents travelers with a one-of-a-kind opportunity to step back in time.
The Granary, the best-preserved building in town, is an excellent starting point when exploring Škofja Loka. A short walk from this old storehouse, leads to the lower square, Lontrg, the smaller of the two charming squares in town. Up the cobblestone street, the larger Town Square is best described as a mosaic of colorful old burgher houses, with stone window-frames and portals showcasing the town’s past. Each building is a work of art on its own, however it is the Hofman House that attracts the most attention from visitors. The western façade of the house reveals well-preserved art frescoes of a soldier, St. Christopher, and several 16th-century ornaments, which were discovered during renovation in 1970.
In the center of the square, a statue of Mother Mary commemorates the end of the plague in Škofja Loka in 1751. From the town square, a narrow street leads under the Selca Town Gate, to one of the most stunning attractions, the 600-year-old Stone Bridge (Capuchin Bridge). Across the bridge stands another gem of Škofja Loka, the Capuchin Church with the monastery and library built in 1709.
The monastery’s astonishing library keeps around 30,000 books including a copy of Škofja Loka’s Passion Play (the first dramatic play written in Slovenian language), Jurij Dalmatin’s Bible (the first translation of the Bible to Slovene), and the Dictionarium quatuor linguarum (the first multilingual dictionary of Slovene). A visit to the dreamy historic town is not complete without stopping at Škofja Loka Castle. Like the rest of the town, the original castle was damaged in the earthquake and was renovated in the 15th-century. Behind its thick walls, the castle now houses the Loka Museum, showcasing exhibits of archaeology, history, cultural history, arts, ethnology and natural history.
The already picturesque town becomes even more astonishing during the performances of the Škofja Loka Passion Play. The first dramatic play in Slovene language was written in 1515 (minor corrections have been added to the text until 1527), by Father Romuald during his stay in Skofja Loka. The play was first performed in the streets in 1721 and took place each year, during Lent, until 1752.
It was almost 200 years until the next revival in 1936 and another 63 years until the Škofja Loka Passion Play was staged on the streets again, in 1999. This and all the following performances of the Passion have turned Škofja Loka into the largest outdoor theatrical venue in Slovenia. Over 600 actors and 80 horsemen are involved in the production that takes place all over the town in the original form of the procession. The next Škofja Loka Passion performance is not to be missed. The town will be transformed into a theater again in 2021, celebrating 300 years since the spectacle was first performed.