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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrLjubljana, the capital of Slovenia, is quickly emerging as one of Europe's must-do destinations. It is remarkable for its rich tradition, youthful vibrancy, cultural creativity, feel for entertainment, and numerous green spaces. Ljubljanica River dreamily serves as the central theme for bistros, boutiques, bridges, monuments, museums, and a town hall originally constructed in the 1400s. There are also, surprisingly, offbeat facets of the city, like Metelkova City, a cluster of clubs and galleries that opened inside a complex of former military buildings after Slovenia declared independence, in 1991.
The city itself is a living museum of the work of the renowned architect Jože Plečnik (1872–1957). Stroll the embankments of the Ljubljanica River to explore his finely detailed, temple-like market halls and the vibrant Central Market plaza. Do some wandering through the open-air market and the market halls, observing the theater of daily life in the city. There are numerous cultural events in the city so there’s always something going on. In the evening, head down to Maček, the riverside bar and popular meeting place on any night of the week and you will be mixing with visitors and locals alike.
Alternatively, try one of the drinking spots in Knafljev Prehod, a pedestrianized area just off the river on the opposite side. The English pub-style, Cutty Sark and the more stylish As are the most lively and both have outdoor tables. You won't get views of the river here, but the atmosphere is just as vibrant. As in Paris, citizens participate in a romantic phenomenon known as ''love locks''. Couples affix padlocks inscribed with messages on the bridge railing and toss the keys into the river.
Admittedly, the city may lack the big-ticket attractions of Budapest or Vienna, but the great museums, galleries, bridges, riverside cafes, and varied, accessible nightlife make it a wonderful place to visit. Two or three days should be enough to cover its highlights.
HistoryThe development of Ljubljana dates back to Roman times, where the fortified Roman settlement of Emona lay on the area of today's Ljubljana. After Emona was destroyed by Huns, Slavs had arrived and built a town under the present castle hill, that developed into medieval Ljubljana known as Laibach. Ljubljana changed hands frequently in the Middle Ages. The last important change came in 1335, when the Habsburgs became the Ljubljana’s new rulers and they remain the city’s masters until the end of World War I in 1918. During World War II, Ljubljana was occupied by the Italians and the Germans. Ljubljana became the capital of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia within Yugoslavia in 1945 and remained the capital after Slovenia claimed independence in 1991.
Ljubljana CastleLjubljana Castle is the city's most prominent sight, offering some of the most beautiful views of Ljubljana. The castle premises house several museum exhibitions and presentations, such as Slovenian History, The Prison, and Virtual Castle, among others. There are several ways to access the castle, with the easiest being a 70 m long funicular that leaves from Vodnikov trg . If you’d like to get some exercise, you can hike the hill in about 10-15 minutes.
Prešernov TrgNamed after Slovenian's most famous poet, France Prešeren, the square is located in the city center, at the foot of the iconic Triple Bridge. The bronze statue faces the window where the poets's muse once lived. The square is one of Ljubljana’s most famous public spaces and a popular meeting place for both locals and tourists.
Cathedral of St NicholasThe Franciscan Monastery and the Cathedral of St Nicholas are the two buildings contributing most significantly to the appearance of the Prešernov trg square, the central square in Ljubljana. The Church was built between 1646 and 1660. Its facade, completed around 1700, rebuilt in the 19th century, and renovated in 1993, is adorned with a copper statue of St. Mary, Ljubljana's largest Madonna statue. Have a look at the magnificent carved choir stalls, the organ , and the angels on the main altar.
Town Hall & Old TownLjubljana's Town Hall, locally referred to as Mestna hiša, Magistrat or Rotovž, is used as the seat of the Municipality of Ljubljana. It was built in the late 15th century. The Gothic courtyard inside, arcaded on three levels, is where theatrical performances once took place and contains some lovely graffiti. Picaresque streets of the Old Town will charm you with Ljubljana's best preserved medieval houses.
Triple BridgePlečnik's Triple Bridge, one of the symbols of the Slovenian capital, making it easy to cross the Ljubljanica, and reach the delights of the city on both river banks. Take a walk over this architecture gem.
National and University LibraryThe National and University Library was built between 1936 and 1941 to designs by Jože Plečnik. It is considered to be the architect's most important work in Slovenia. To appreciate this great man’s philosophy, enter through the main door on Turjaška ulica.
City MuseumFeaturing both permanent and temporary exhibitions, this is the best place in town for a course in city history. The museum focuses on city’s history, politics and culture. The reconstructed Roman street that linked the eastern gates of Emona to the Ljubljanica and the collection of well-preserved classical finds in the basement are worth a visit in themselves.
Food & DrinkLjubljana is home to many quality restaurants, most of which you’ll find in the city center. You can choose between various restaurants that offer traditional Slovenian food or you can let your culinary needs be catered at food places that offer different world cuisines like Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Thai, Indian, and Turkish. The best choice for bargain snacks are the many kiosks selling burek, hot dogs, and kebab. It is highly recommended you try the cheese burek. Ljubljana nightlife consists mainly of bars and pubs, the best and most atmospheric of which are strung along the Ljubljanica River in the city center.
ShoppingLjubljana offers everything from modern shopping malls through to charming old-world boutiques located on cobbled historic streets. Slovenska Street, with its big name shops, is a popular shopping boulevard in Ljubljana. However, a far more pleasant experience is on offer in the Old Town, where boutique shops sell everything from clothes, perfume, shoes and jewelry to traditional crafts and designer gear. The biggest market is Mestna tržnica (open Monday – Saturday) offering fresh fruits, vegetables, farmer produce from the countryside, souvenirs, and handicrafts. The biggest shopping mall in Ljubljana is BTC City, which is a multiplex of malls situated some 3 km from the city center.
Getting aroundThe city is quite small, so you'll probably get by with just walking, but there is an efficient bus service running until midnight. Buses run around every 15 minutes on main routes. If you intend to use bus transportation in Ljubljana, you need to buy an Urbana card. You can get it at tourist information centers, most city street kiosks, and post offices hold it as well. Renting a bike is highly recommended if you want to see more distant sights. Ljubljana is flat and cycle-friendly city and many locals travel by two wheels instead of four.
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Author: Ayda. Last updated: Apr 03, 2015