Lipica – the cradle of Lipizzaners


The Latin name equus ferus caballus may not ring any bells in minds other than the ones found in veteran equestrian circles. As Lipizzaners, the graceful snow-white horses are known for their sublime elegance when ballet-dancing according to a sophisticated choreography and largely admired for their seemingly light-footed stunts. Their legendary teachabiity has been displayed at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna for more than 450 years, showering the Lipizzaner breed with international fame. Up to 1920, the statuesque stallions performing in Vienna were bred at the Lipica Stud Farm in Slovenia. Today, the stud embodies a planet in its own right, where breeding is maintained – and treasured – with undiminished sincerity and passion since the estate was founded in the 16th century.

Where are all the horses gone? Photo credit: Boris Pretnar.

Where are all the horses gone? Photo credit: Boris Pretnar.

A mere 20-minutes’ car drive from the Italian port town of Trieste, the Lipica estate spreads out over a vast expanse within a cultivated karst landscape. Pastures and meadows are encircled with protective fences, oak groves and avenues of trees. The premises serves as a spacious playground not only for a population of some 350 Lipizzaners, but caters to fascinated visitors as well. They may roam the grounds or indulge in on-site activities offered. Horse-back riding seems the obvious choice for the physically active, a carriage ride a comfy variety for candidates who prefer to take it easy. The interactive Museum Lipikum or a performance by the most talented studs trained at the classical riding school, add up to the pastime options available at Lipica.

A mystical scene: Lipizzaners gallopping through early morning mist

A mystical scene: Lipizzaners trotting in twilight. Photo credit: Janet Efrati

Lipica’s history is closely linked to the Habsburg dynasty, who established the stud farm on the foundations of the summer residence abandoned by the bishop of Trieste in the 16th century. All horses trained at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna were bred here till 1920. From around that time Slovenia was no longer part of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

A Lipizzaner groomed to perfection and trained to excel. Photo credit: Ewald Willibald.

Groomed and trained to perfection … Photo credit: Ewald Willibald.

Accommodation, golf and MICE Hotel Maestoso lies within the compound and sports 59 superior rooms (11 singles, 41 doubles, 7 suites), conferencing space + facilities, casinos and relaxation programmes. Adjacent is a 9-hole golf course.

All images courtesy of ©Lipica. Photo credit header image: ©Oliwia Chmielewska.