During the Medieval times, Ljubljana was known as the Roman city of Emona; subsequently it came under Habsburg rule from mid 14th century until the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918. Strategically situated between the trade route of the Northern Adriatic Sea & the Danube region, it was the historic capital of Carniola & today the Capital city of independent Slovenia since gaining independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. This is the largest city in Slovenia with a concentration of industry, scientific & research institutions, transport connections & cultural tradition that makes it a charming place to visit.
Ljubljana Open Markets -This market at Vodnik Square (Vodnikov trg) is yet another charm of Ljubljana city.
It offers an interesting browse as colourful fresh fruits, flowers, vegetables & a whole range of bric-a-brac are waiting to be enjoyed.
Candles in all shapes & sizes – take your pick!
The iconic Dragon Bridge (Zmajski most) in Ljubljana is one of the many bridges that crosses the Ljubljanica River. This 33.34m concrete arch bridge opened in 1901 spans Kopitar & Ressel Streets near Vodnik Square.
This bridge was dedicated to Emperor Franz Joseph I who reigned from 1848-1888 during the Habsburg Dynasty when Ljubljana was part of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. This beautiful bridge is a fine example of the Vienna Secession movement founded in 1897 by a group of Austrian painters, sculptors & architects led by Gustav Klimt.
Dragon Bridge (Zmajski most) has many firsts : This was the 1st bridge in Slovenia that was covered with asphalt; the 1st reinforced concrete bridge in Ljubljana as well as in Europe. The main attraction of this Art Nouveau bridge are the 4 large dragon statues on pedestals made of copper sheets & the 16 smaller dragons that adorn the parapet lamps designed by Dalmatian architect Jurij Zaninović. The Dragon symbolizes power, courage & greatness.
This picturesque public market was designed & built by architect Jože Plećnik between 1940-1944 & it stretches from Dragon Bridge to Triple Bridge running alongside the Ljubljanica River on one side. The central complex Colonnade bears Renaissance influences with classical columns gracing the street side. To get a taste of Slovenian flavours the market place delicatessen is probably the best place to start. Karst prosciutto, traditional ‘Potica’ Cake, Horse pate, Sauerkraut etc. & market stalls that carry a wide variety of fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, fish, cheeses, breads, herbs & local crafts…you will be spoilt for choice!
Prometheus beckons at Butcher’s Bridge (Mesarski most) which is a modern footbridge designed by Jurij Kobe opened in 2010 that features a staircase at its left entry, glass walking belts at the sides & two steel wire fences with a wider parapet. This was where the butchers’ booths were situated hence the namesake. It connects the Central Market’s colonnade with the Petkovšek Embankment (Petkovškovo nabrežje) which is full of swanky cafes, bars & restaurants.
Slovenian sculptor Jakov Brdar gives us an idea of what goes on at the butchers’ vending booths. Butcher’s Bridge (Mesarski most) is also interestingly Ljubljana’s love bridge & lovers pledge their eternal love with padlocks as seen here & keys tossed into the Ljubljanica river beneath. It is amusing to have these two odd elements juxtaposed.
The Central Market which has a 2 storey market hall with semi-circular windows overlooking Ljubljanica River. The open loggia area is where the herbs, spices, arts & craft stalls are found.
Robba Fountain (Robbov vodjnak) was built in 1751 by the Italian sculptor Francesco Robba who got his inspiration from Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers at Piazza Navona in Rome. The 10m Obelisk is made of local Lesno Brdo marble, the sculptured parts of Carrara marble & the water pool of local Podpeč limestone. Since 2001 the original fountain was listed a cultural monument of national significance & in 2006 it was moved to the National Gallery. What you now see at the Mestni trg is a replica.
Three male figures carrying jugs represent the gods of the 3 rivers of Carniola; Ljubljanica, Sava & Krka. The Bishop’s Palace at Cyril & Methodius Square & Ljubljana Cathedral officially named Cathedral of St. Nicholas (Stolnica sv. Nikolaja) easily recognised by its green dome & twin belfries. This church was burnt down twice & this present Baroque structure was consecrated in 1707.
Ljubljana Town Hall (Ljubljanska mestna hiša) flying the EU flag, Slovenia’s State flag & the city’s emblem. Slovenia joined the European Union in 2004.There are many plausible stories with regards to Ljubljana’s Dragon which is featured in the city’s coat of arms but I believe it was adopted from St. George the patron saint of Ljubljana Castle Chapel, built during the 15th century. In the legend of St. George the slaying of the dragon saw the conversion of the entire city of Silene to Christianity & the end of paganism.
Ljubljana’s picturesque City Square (Mestni trg) & cobbled streets are dominated by the Town Hall, Robba Fountain & the pastel coloured Baroque buildings that date from the 16th century. Formerly burgher’s houses they have been nicknamed ‘Colourful Loka’ & quite a few of them are of historical & architectural importance.
At the passageway that separates the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Ljubljana (Nadškofija Ljubljana) & the western entrance of St. Nicholas Cathedral (Katedrala Ljubljana) at Cyril & Methodius Square (Ciril-Metodov trg).
This new door facing West, opposite the Bishop’s Palace (Nadškofija Ljubljana) has reliefs that recount historical events since the advent of Christianity in Slovenia. It was blessed by Pope John Paul II during his visit in 1996.
The bronze ‘Slovene Door’ has reliefs designed by Tone Demšar to mark the 1250th anniversary of Christianity in Slovenia.
The cathedral is representative of Romanesque Baroque architecture & the beautiful interior is decorated with frescoes painted by Giulio Quaglio & his co-workers. There are 4 chapels on each side & sculptures of the former Bishops in this Latin-cross shaped elongated hall. The dome which sits above the crossing was added in 1841 & built by Matej Medved (1796-1865).
Ljubljana has put in place many green initiatives to improve their urban environment & achieve sustainable living. In 2010 the Urbana card was introduced making public transport easier & more efficient. The Old City centre has been closed off to traffic making it a haven for cyclists & pedestrians & green spaces are found all over the city, even by the Ljubljanica River. Little wonder then that Ljubljana has been voted 2016’s Green Capitial of Europe.
Cobbler’s Bridge (Čevljarski most) also known as Shoemaker’s Bridge (Šuštarski most) dates from the 13th Century where it was a covered wooden bridge connecting Mestni trg & Novi trg in Medieval Ljubljana. I imagine it might have looked a little like the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. This present stone bridge was built between 1931-1932 by the city’s foremost architect Jože Plečnik. The interesting feature you will notice is the short balustrades interspersed with taller ones topped with a stone ball and two shorter central pillars with lamps. It can get quite lively here when the flea market gets underway in summer.
A great way to see the Old City of Ljubljana is on foot & at Juricicev trg near Cobbler’s Bridge on the Left bank of Ljubljanica River are a few pubs & restaurants. It’s not a bad place to hang out, swivel a drink or two & enjoy good food.
Strolling along Hribarjevo nabrežje going towards Dvorni trg on a drizzly day.
Dvorni trg is just by Ljubljanica River with a good view of Ljubljana Castle (Ljubljana grad). Before 1515 this old square marked the edge of the Jewish ghetto but it was thoroughly renovated in 2002 with stairs & platforms added to accommodate restaurants’ summer gardens & also host outdoor events like concerts, dance shows & children’s events.
This was formerly the seat of the Provincial Diet of the Duchy of Carniola. It is now the main building of the University of Ljubljana situated at Congress Square (Kongresni trg).
The Baroque Uršuline Church of the Holy Trinity (Uršulinska cerkev svelte Trojice) located at Slovene Street is a parish church at Ljubljana’s Congress Square (Kongresni trg) with Star Park (Zvezda Park) on the right. Designed by Carlo Martinuzzi, it was built between 1718-1726.
Triple Bridge (Tromostovje) – Ljubljana’s 3 picturesque bridges built close to one another, are well-known in the city as it connects Prešeren Square with the Old Town & is a popular meeting point & place for buskers & artists.
Preseren Square is where several roads converge in front of one of the old entrance gates to the old city & public square. It was named after Slovenia’s national poet France Preseren & became a popular meeting place & a site for concerts & events during summer.
The Triple Bridge (Tromostovje) & the Franciscan Church of Annunciation at Prešeren Square (Prešernov trg) which was renovated in 2007.
Surrounding Prešeren Square (Prešernov trg) are several outstanding buildings like Urbanc House (Centromerkur) with its magnificent Art Nouveau facade & others like Frisch House (Frischova hiša), Seunig House (Seunigova hiša), Hauptman House (Hauptmanova hiša) & some bourgeois palaces that were constructed after the devastating earthquake of 1895.
At one corner of Prešeren Square is the statue of Slovenian poet Dr France Prešeren (1800-1849). This monument designed by architect Maks Fabiani & sculpted by Ivan Zajc was unveiled in 1905 & it features the Muse of Poetry holding a small laurel of bay leaves over Prešeren’s head & extracts of his writing around the base.
Mounted on the facade of a building along Wolfova ulica where Prešeren’s unrequited love Julija Primic’s room was; is a symbolic statue of her facing his monument.
A small tram operates from Prešeren Square (Prešernov trg) taking tourists up to Ljubljana Castle or alternatively you could take the funicular.
Walking along Carkarjevo nabrežje which has a row of Bars & Restaurants
Ljubljana is a fairly small city, so getting around on foot is good & in fact such a lovely experience. A significant part of the city is pedestrian & bike friendly & bike rental is easily available.
Triple Bridge (Tromostovje) & the Franciscan Church of Annunciation in Ljubljana at nightfall
As you can see, Ljubljana is pretty by day & by night! This beautiful country in the centre of Europe has a small population of about 2 million who highly value both their natural & cultural heritage.
The ornate altar of the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation located at Prešeren Square, a parish church in Ljubljana.
Along Stritarjeva ulica looking into Mestni trg with Ljubljana Castle in the background
This compact & charming city has much to offer & I would love to return here someday & visit Ljubljana Castle as the rainy weather today would have made it a wasted trip with poor visibility at the top. The laid-back, cool Autumn suits me but if you like the buzz, then you should come during the summer when carnivals & activities galore are in full swing.