Last autumn, my family and I travelled to Europe, as the kids had a school exchange in Italy (more on that in future posts). After a few days in South Africa, we spent 5 days travelling around Slovenia and Croatia before settling down in Italy for a few weeks. Today I will share with you my Ljubljana – Slovenia Guide.
After leaving the beautiful Zagreb, we made our way towards Bled. On our way, we stopped for a few hours in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. I had never been to Ljubljana and I must say I was absolutely impressed with it. It is a really pretty city.
We only had a few hours to visit Ljubljana, so we only managed to see the main sights. However, I would say a full day – max a couple of days – are enough to visit the central part of town.
The picturesque streets of Ljubljana are full of historic buildings and cultural hotspots, with much of the key architecture designed by the famous creator Jože Plečnik.
Dragon Bridge – Zmajski Most
We started our visit from the famous Dragon Bridge (built in 1901). The dragon is the symbol of Ljubljana, which has been proudly reigning in the city coat of arms since the late Middle Ages. Beautiful dragon sculptures adorn the Dragon Bridge and this is an absolute must-visit spot in Ljubljana.
There are two legends associated with the Dragon Bridge. The first states that Jason, the ancient Greek mythological hero, founded the city of Ljubljana by killing a dragon. The second legend claims that the four dragons the bridge is named after, wag their tails every time a virgin passes by. The beautiful structure of the bridge and the legends associated with it have made it one of the city’s key attractions.
Butchers’ Bridge – Mesarski Most
The Butchers’ Bridge is Ljubljana’s love bridge. It is a place where countless lovers have symbolically padlocked their love and dropped the keys into the Ljubljanica river, which flows underneath.
The Butchers’ Bridge was built in 2010 and it connects the Central Market’s colonnade with the Petkovškovo nabrežje embankment. It occupies the site of the former butchers’ booths and it is adorned with somewhat creepy statues and sculptures by the renowned Slovenian sculptor Jakov Brdar. The large statue standing on the Petkovškovo nabrežje side of the bridge depicts Prometheus, while the miniature statues on the parapet playfully allude to the activities that once went on in the butchers’ vending booths.
The Central Market, designed by the famous architect Jože Plečnik and built in 1939, is the place to shop. The architect envisioned 3 main market areas: the covered part of the structure hosts butchers and sellers of traditional Slovenian products, such as cheese, pumpkin oil, bread, etc; the second part is a large outdoor area with stands full of fresh fruit, vegetables, and flowers; while the third part is the fish market, located right on the Ljubljanica riverbank.
St. Nicholas Cathedral
The Cathedral of Saint Nicholas was built in 1706, following the designs of architect Andrea Pozzo.
The Baroque style is visible on the church’s exterior and especially in the interior, where the lavish frescoes, statues, and paintings make it a must-see for visitors.
The bronze sculpted doors of the cathedral were installed in 1966, to commemorate the 1,250th anniversary of Christianity in Slovenia.
Town Hall and Mestni Square
As the seat of Ljubljana’s municipality, this beautiful building and its signature clock tower were built in 1484. The town hall was later renovated in the 18th century and is now considered one of the best examples of Baroque architecture in Ljubljana.
In Mestni Square, by the Town Hall, stands the beautiful Robba Fountain, designed in the style of the most beautiful Roman baroque fountains. Also known as the Fountain of the Three Carniolan Rivers, it was created in 1751. In the fountain, statues of gods represent the 3 Carniolan Rivers (Ljubljanica, Sava, and Krka). The original fountain, made of marble and limestone, has been moved to the National Gallery to avoid future deterioration – a replica of the Baroque fountain is now displayed in the square.
Prešernov trg Square and Franciscan Church
Prešernov trg Square is the heart of the historic city centre. It is a blend of Baroque, Secession, and architecture of Jože Plečnik. The Franciscan Church of the Annunciation, with its pink façade, is one of the most striking attractions in Prešeren Square. The church was built in the 17th century, though its appearance later changed as a result of the Ljubljana earthquake in 1895.
Triple Bridge – Tromostovje
The main bridge out of the three that form Ljubljana’s Triple Bridge was built in 1842, with the still visible inscription bearing a dedication to Archduke Franz Karl. The other two smaller bridges were added by Jože Plečnik in 1932. Plečnik removed the metal railing from the main bridge and decorated all three bridges with enormous stone balustrades and lamps.
Ljubljana Castle is located on Castle Hill, and has been overlooking Ljubljana for centuries. Easily reached by a short hike or by funicular, the castle boasts a viewing tower with stunning views of Ljubljana and its surroundings. The tour offered at the castle takes visitors on a journey through time to the five most important historical periods in Ljubljana’s history, while more courageous visitors can descend into the castle’s dungeon, and explore the darker side of the building’s history.
Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to visit the castle. It also started to rain a lot, so we decided to leave this to our next visit.
Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to spend a night in Ljubljana. However, we stopped for a brief visit between Zagreb and Bled.
Ljubljana is a beautiful city and I absolutely recommend a visit, even a short one. However, if you were running short on time and had to decide between Zagreb and Ljubljana, I preferred Zagreb. Just between us. 😉
If you have any questions, leave a comment and I will be happy to help out!
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