Slovenia

France Prešeren in Kranj

07 Feb 2018
Born not far from Kranj in the small village of Vrba, Slovenia's greatest poet and national cultural icon France Prešeren has remained closely linked to the town since his untimely death here in 1849. Raised in a family of relatively well-off farmers, Prešeren showed great aptitude for studies at an early age and was thus sent to be educated at private Catholic schools in the south of Slovenia, before attending the prestigious State Gymnasium in Ljubljana. The young Prešeren spent the better part of the 1820s working towards his law degree in Vienna, which is also where is made his first attempts at writing poetry.

Upon returning to Ljubljana, he was unable to open his own independent law practice due to the discriminatory policies of the Germanic city authorities, so he resigned himself to assisting other lawyers, which at least allowed him sufficient free time to further develop as a poet. In 1946, the now middle-aged Prešeren was finally given permission to open his own office in Kranj in his native Gorenjska, but this long sought after achievement came too late, as years of depression and heavy drinking finally and fatally caught up with him less than three years later.

In the years after his death, the town of Kranj became the de facto guardian of the great poet's legacy, and even nowadays his presence is felt throughout the city. The house in which he lived and worked is now the Prešeren Memorial Museum (located naturally on Prešeren Street), while his final resting place is now a public park known as Prešeren Grove. Since 1945, Slovenia has commemorated the day Prešeren died, 8 February, as the national day of culture, and the largest event in the country is held in Kranj. There are also several public sculptures of the poet, including the most famous one set just outside the Prešeren Theatre, as well as the Prešeren Prize Winners Gallery with a collection of works by the artists who have won Slovenia's most important artist award.

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