You know your weekend trip is going to be good when your husband says it could be a future blogpost. That is what he told me when I asked where we were going. We were planning to go to Bohinj but with Putin visiting Slovenia, that part of the highway was closed. So we headed to a place that had been on my bucketlist for a while now. Truly one of Slovenia best: Lipica, The Birthplace of the Lipizzaner.
Visiting Lipica has been in my Slovenian bucketlist ever since I discover there is a wonderful land where they breed this majestic horses. I’ve had heard the rumors that this was THE original birthplace for the Lipizzaner, this tall, lean, and beautiful-build white horse. But I had also read that these horses where originally from Spain or Austria. Who was right, and who was wrong?
Well, in case you will not be able to visit Lipica any time soon. Let me take you on a virtual tour around the birthplace of the Lipizzaner!
Quick history recap…
Lipica is one of the oldest stud farms in the world, and the oldest one in Europe. It was a founded in the year 1580 by the Austro-Hungarian Empire (Slovenia was part of that empire then), and it has been breeding the horses ever since. The Lipizzaner, the horse bred there, is the oldest cultural horse breed and now it can be found all over the world in specialized Lipizzaner stud farms. These stud farms often do exchanges with each in order keep the breed healthy. And they are spread throughout Europe, particularly the places that used to belong to the Habsburgs’ territory like Spain. They are also found in places like Australia or the USA (in Las Vegas to be precise).
Lipica’s area was the key component for making the horse’s health prosper. Particularly for its soil being a little sandy and rough. This soil made the breed built strong legs and body. Baby horses stay in Lipica for three years before being exchanged or sold, this is because its health reaches an optimal point living in that area. To be honest, I thought this was an under statement but once you start walking the area you notice that the soil is a bit sandy and fluffly, but once you start walking that changes and it starts feeling like you are stepping on hard stone.
Lipica’s weather is more dry like the one you can find in Spain given its close proximity to the Mediterranean weather. So the Habsburgs had to import certain flora to accommodate to the nutritional necessities of the horse.
Another fun fact, the Lipizzaner is not a white horse per se. They are actually grey. When they are born, they are born with dark or brown fur and after some years those colors fade away and the white appears. Sometimes there is the case that the horse will remain brown, this happens with around 1% of the breed actually. Funny enough, those horses have higher probabilities of producing a white Lipizzaner than their white Lipizzaner counterparts. So they are still used for breeding.
The stud farm is not only a historical center, it is also a place filled with lots of things to do. Here is a rundown of what you can do while in Lipica on a budget or in case if you want to splurge! ;)
What do while in Lipica…
Take a tour
The entrance to Lipica is of 16€ if you are an adult, 12€ for students, 1€ for kids ages 0 to 5, 8€ for kids 6 to 18. But you can purchase a family ticket for 44€ and it includes up to 3 children and 2 adults. You get a free tour around the premises with the purchase of your ticket, they run every full hour. You can get this tour in English, French, German or Italian. The guide will take you back in time by explaining the legendary history of this stud farm, and they will also explain the interesting facts about the horses breeding. In case you are wondering, the intention of the stud farm at the beginning was to produce working and carriage horses but after some years of breeding these white horse appeared and they started breeding show horses too for this reason.
Visit the museum
Your ticket includes an entrance to the museum. The exposition starts from way back with some horse fossils dated back to thousands of years and ends with the modern use of the horse, as well as some curious facts about the Lipizzaner breed and others. There are interactive games for kids and a lot of interesting historical data about the Habsburgs and the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Watch the training
Every full hour you get the chance to watch some live training in the Hippodrome. This is show training, so they will all be male horses. We got the chance to see a young group of horses, some with more experience than others. The Lipizzaners are a very graceful horses but they also have a couple of funny mannerism like the way they mark their step. The show is very enjoyable and it definitely soothes you for a while. And in case you are wondering about the way they treat them, you have to know that for the first 3 years they run wild as much as they can and after that the training begins. As with everything related to animals, please do some research before you visit the premises. In my opinion, I would rather visit a place like this than a zoo. At least here they make sure that they have as much of outdoor activity as they can.
If you want to splurge…
Do some riding
The price to ride a Lipizzaner is of 61€ for 90 minutes, which sounds quite pricey to me because I don’t really ride horses. So I guess that for hardcore riding fans, this is the opportunity of a lifetime. You get the chance to trot around the grand pastures and experience first hand the quirkiness of the Lipizzaner horse. Definitely book it in advance if you are a rider.
Take a ride on a carriage
Lipica is a place to let your romance dreams come true. The carriages take you around the property and it can carry up to 4 people, the prices depend on the time you ride the carriage, for 15 min is 20€, for 30 min is 30€ and for 60 min is 50€. We mostly saw families riding with their kids, but I guess it is something you could do as a couple if you are feeling quite cheesy. FYI, I sort of regret not taking this option hehe.
If you plan to stay a little more than a couple of hours around the area, you can take advantage of the grand golf course located right next to Lipica. As mentioned earlier, the weather there is kind of dry so it is rather reliable. Plus the views are rather breathtaking!
How to get there
There are three options, you can visit Lipica by car, train or bus. By car, it takes about an hour to get there from Ljubljana through the highway A1/E70. By bus or train you have to travel to Sežana, and then take a taxi to Lipica.
Trains usually take less than two hours to get there, and they leave every hour and a half throughout the day starting at 6:30 am from Ljubljana, you can find the timetables in the Slovenian official railway webpage here (http://www.slo-zeleznice.si/sl/). You can also take a train from Trieste via Trenitalia (http://www.trenitalia.com/).
By bus, only three buses leave daily to Sežana and the journey last less than two hours. You can check the schedules here (http://www.ap-ljubljana.si/). For the journey back to Ljubljana, only three buses leave daily. One early in the morning and the other two are after midday and before the evening. Plan your trip accordingly, given that you will also need a 10 minute cab ride, if you are planning on taking this option.
All in all, we had a blast exploring Lipica. I guess my picture says it all :) Actually, the Slovenian coast is close by, so after a having lunch on a restaurant around the area we headed there for ice cream. Quite a successful blogger day if you ask me ;)
Would you visit Lipica?
MORE DAY TRIPS AROUND SLOVENIA:
Glamping in Slovenia at Big Berry – A Natural Luxury Resort Getaway
Hiking Velika Planina
Exploring Soca Valley
Vintgar Gorge, Slovenia: An Explorer’s Dream
Logarska Dolina: One of Europe’s Most Beautiful Valleys
Idrija Mercury Mine: One of Slovenia’s UNESCO Heritage Sites