Kranj is Slovenia's third-largest urban municipality, as well as the fourth-largest city in Slovenia. Geographically, Kranj is located about 20 km northwest of Ljubljana, where the Kokra River flows into the Sava River. Kranj is the centre of the Gorenjska region. The electronic and chemical industries are strongly developed in the town. Due to its strategic location, the intersection of junction roads, as well as its proximity to the borders of Italy and Austria, Kranj has an important transport and commercial importance. The city of Kranj is known for its sports facilities, including football, tennis and basketball courts, as well as the largest aquatic centre in the country.
The name Kranj was first attested in written sources dating back to the 5th century. In 670, the town was named Carnium, in 973 Chreinariorum, Kreine in the period 1050-1065, Chreina in the period 1065-1077 and Chrainburch in 1291. The name in Slovenian derives from the Slavic word Korn'ь.
Archaeological findings show that the town of Kranj has existed since prehistoric times. Historical findings testify that the Romans founded the settlement of Carnium on the place where the Kokra River flows into the Sava River. Scientists have also discovered the remains of a Slavic settlement (Slavic tombs) dating back to the 9th-10th centuries. The town of Kranj gained particular importance in the area in the 11th century. It is believed that the flourishing of the town of Kranj began at the beginning of the 13th century. Details of the citizens appear in a document from 1221.
History says that the Slovene town of Kranj officially received its status as a town in 1256. An interesting fact of the town's history is the decision issued in 1414 to relieve the inhabitants of Kranj of taxes. In 1422, an ordinance was issued which regulated that newly built houses should be made of stone to prevent fires. In 1423, a parish school was founded in Kranj. Kranj was devastated in 1471 by an Ottoman attack. The town was rebuilt and Emperor Frederick III restored the right of Kranj to collect taxes, which was regulated by documents of 1488 and 1493.
Over the years, crafts have developed in Kranj since the Middle Ages. Initially everything was concentrated along the Sava and Kokra rivers. Later on, butchers, furriers, weavers and others developed their craft in the town. But unfortunately, the Habsburgs' efforts to maintain Vienna's monopoly over trade with Italy led to the emergence of new trade routes that bypassed Kranj.
The City of Kranj has experienced many ups and many downs over the years. For example, the town fell victim to plague epidemics in 1836 and 1855. But something good did happen in 1863 - a reading room was established in Crane. In the 19th century, artisan workshops took shape in the town, whose roots go back to a number of artists who worked in the 17th and 18th centuries. A special place among them is occupied by the workshop of Josip Egartner Jr. (1833-1905), who settled in Kranj in 1875. A secondary school was also established in Kranj in 1861, and a vocational textile school opened in 1930. Interestingly, the water supply system in Kranj was installed in 1901, using water from the Kokra River.
The industry in Kranj until the end of the 19th century suffered a lot of restrictions. Agricultural, livestock and timber trades were developed. The first leather factory in Kranj was in 1875. The large-scale development of industry in Kranj began after World War I, starting with the establishment of a rubber factory in 1921 and a textile factory. Gradually, Kranj became one of the most important centres of textile production in pre-war Yugoslavia. Two shoe factories opened in 1925.
During World War II, Kranj, along with the rest of northern Slovenia, came under the rule of Nazi Germany . The German authorities froze the textile industry, and in the textile factories the machinery was replaced by aircraft production equipment.
In addition to a rich and colourful history, Kranj is a city with an interesting array of tourist attractions. Undoubtedly the most interesting part of Kranj is the Old Town - well preserved and picturesquely situated at the confluence of the Sava and Kokra rivers. The remains of the city walls, which were erected in the 15th century, as well as the Top Gate, are a must on a city tour.
Another tourist attraction in the Slovenian town of Kranj is the Town Hall. The attraction impresses with the architectural unification of two buildings from different eras and styles, the first dating back to the mid-16th century,and the second was built in the early 17th century and was originally intended for aristocrats.
Of interest is the Church of St. Cantian. It is the first church in the town and dates back to the 6th century, which is proven by the archiological excavations in the area. Therefore, the church was built in Romanesque style and at the end of the 14th century in Gothic style.
Nature has also contributed to the sights of Kranj. Cockra Canyon is one of the jewels in the crown of Kranj and is a picturesque upper canyon in the vicinity of Kranj, designated as a natural monument. Unforgettable memories are also left by the Shum waterfall in Besnitsa, as well as the hills of Shmarietna and St. Josht.
If you're in Kranj, be sure to visit the Plečnik Steps, Hrastie and Kieselstein Castle. The castle was built in the middle of the 16th century by Baron Johann Jakob. Later owners of the castle were the Moscon, Ravbar, Apfaltrer, Auersperg and Pagliaruzzi families. The castle building was renovated in 1952 by the architect Jože Plečnik at the end of his period. The castle garden is currently used as a stage for concerts. The St. Cantianus and Companions Parish Church is the largest church in Kranj and also the parish seat of Kranj. It was built in the 14th century, its construction being a credit to the Earls of Kranj.