March 12, 2018
The Lipica Stud Farm is a piece of living history that will delight nature lovers, horse fans and those who’d like to step back in time to all the pomp of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and is well positioned for other side trips, such as to the Postojna Caves that are about halfway between Ljubljana and the farm, or going a little further into Italy.
Founded in 1580 by the Habsburg Archduke Charles II, the stud has bred white Lipizzaner horses for centuries, although remains part of a long-standing dispute with Austria with regard to “the true home of the Lipizzaners”, with Slovenia’s northern neighbour declaring Piber as the official centre. Moreover Italy, which for some time after the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire actually had Lipica within its territory, also once staked its claim to this heritage.
Whatever the eventual outcome – and Slovenia has a habit of losing such cases to its bigger, and more powerful, rivals – it’s at Lipica where these horses were traditionally bred and trained, and it remains one of the best places to learn about the history of these animals and see them in action. (Although It should also be noted, as a matter of fact, that the Piber Federal Stud in Austria was only founded in 1798 and started breeding the horses as recently as 1920, several centuries after the action began at Lipica, and today the two stud farms, working in cooperation with those in Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Romania, work together to avoid inbreeding and ensure the genetic diversity of their horses.)
A visit to the centre includes a tour of the facilities, and there are regular performances showing the horses in action, both in dressage shows and as part of their riding training. There are also opportunities to ride a horse yourself, or to sit in a horse-driven carriage (although the fee for these activities is extra).
Among other things, a ticket will get you a guided or independent tour, access to the grounds of the stud farm during opening hours, a visit to the oldest stable, where representatives of all the classical lines of Lipizzaner stallions can be seen, entrance to the Lipikum Lipizzaner Museum, the Museum of Carriages, Avgust Černigoj Art Gallery and more, as well as access to the pastures, tree avenues, parks and walking paths (which are about 5 km long, and offer the chance to take a stroll in very beautiful surroundings). Guided tours of the farm start every hour, on the hour, from 10:00 to 17:00, April to October, with more details here. The centre also hosts several events over the year, including show jumping and a half marathon, with details here
A PDF of the current price list can be found here, with the key points in the following tables, as of March 2018. Note that horse rides and carriage rides also cost extra.
The Lipica Stud Farm is at Kobilarna Lipica, Lipica 5, 6210 Sežana, and the website is here.
If you don’t buy a day trip package then the easiest way to reach Lipica is by car. This takes about an hour following the highway to Koper from Ljubljana and then leaving it at Divača, and from here you’ll see signs to the stud farm. There’s also the option of going by train or bus to Sežana, although this still leaves you around 5 km from the centre.
Other articles in this series can be found here.