Ljubljana, Slovenia

If you’ve never been to Ljubljana then it is time you do. Located in central Slovenia, this Capital City is a clean, progressive city, which has a Italian architectural tone. This youthful city was awarded the European Green Capital in 2016 with the city centre now being mostly car free and having a wonderful cycling network.

Prešeren Square is located in the centre of Ljubljana close to the Ljubljanica River, it is a place where the locals congregate and celebrate. The square takes its name from the 19th Century poet France Prešeren whose work ‘Zdravljica’, ‘A Toast’ became Slovenia’s National Anthem. You will find a statue dedicated to him next to the Central Pharmacy.

While in the city try to take a one hour cruise along the Ljubljanica River with the starting point being at the Breg Embankment on the Left Bank of the River. It is definitely the best way to appreciate Jože Plečnik’s majestic urban design, which includes the Triple Bridge and the Arcade and Colonnade on the revitalised waterfront beside it.

The Triple Bridge connects Ljubljana's historic Old Town on one bank to the modern part of the city on the other and can be found just off of Prešeren Square. This group of three bridges is decorated with stone balustrades and lanterns. The bridge date back to the 13th Century and today it stands as the oldest bridge in Ljubljana. Early in the 1930’s, the architect Jože Plečnik redesigned and expanded the bridge and then in 2021, the Triple Bridge was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List as part of Jože Plečnik's remaining legacy.

The Central Market was also designed by Jože Plečnik in the early 1930’s as part of his beautiful set piece that included the Triple Bridge. It sits along the riverside between the Triple Bridge and the Dragon Bridge and is on the site of an old Diocesan College that collapsed during the earthquake in 1895. The attractive colonnade on the fringe of Prešeren Square shelters stalls selling herbs, spices and handicrafts, while further along you will find bakery stalls, cured meat, dried fruit and nuts, dairy products, fresh fruit and vegetables as well as fish. It is open every day except Sunday.

The Dragon Bridge has four intimidating Dragons that stand sentinel on each corner of the bridge, which serve as an emblem for Ljubljana and show up all over the city. The bridge was officially opened in 1901 and is in the Viennese Secessionist style, an offshoot of Art Nouveau.

Plečnik House has made an impact on Ljubljana as is sometimes compared to that of Antoni Gaudí’s work in Barcelona. The house and studio complex situated on Karunova Ulica consists of two houses side by side and a garden with a lapidary collection. The architect’s furniture, tools and sketches and other possessions are still in place as they once were.

Ljubljana Castle sits imposingly high above the city and has changed a lot over the last 900 years. The early stone wood and fortress was succeeded by more practical military buildings, becoming an Arsenal in the 16th Century as a regional bulwark against an Ottoman invasion. Its main courtyard is free to enter however, you will need to pay to ascend the watchtower to look over the stunning views of Ljubljana. There is a tourist train and a funicular railway, which will take you up to the Castle from the city.

Robba’s Fountain sits in front of the Town Hall as is a symbol of Ljubljana. As the name shows it is another work by the prolific Francesco Robba and depicts three male figures pouring water from jugs. The one you see if a replica as the original sculpture is now housed in the National Gallery for safety reasons.

Ljubljana Cathedral is an awe-inspiring building complete with art by numerous Italian Baroque masters. The likes of Francesco Robba, the Groppelli brothers and Angelo Putti have all contributed to the interior’s frescoes, paintings and sculpture in the 18th Century. More recent works are the astounding dome fresco, painted by the Slovenian Matevž Langus in 1844 and the 20th Century artist Tone Demšar’s main portal door, which sports a relief presenting the history of Slovenia.

Other sights worth visiting include the Tivoli Park the largest park in Ljubljana, the National Museum of Slovenia devoted to the history and culture of Slovenia, the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation, which has a solemn presence on Prešeren Square. The Church is in an early Baroque style from the middle of the 17th Century. The Skyscraper is a 13 storey Tower, where you can enjoy stunning views over Ljubljana, encompassing the Castle and the Mountains including Šmarna Gora.

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