LJUBLJANA – Green city of dragons

Dragon Bridge © Luka Esenko, Ljubljana Tourism Photo Library

Ljubljana is a charming boutique city, proud holder of the title as European Green Capital 2016. Despite being classified as a medium-sized European city, it preserves the friendliness of a smaller town, while offering everything found in large capitals.

It is located halfway between Vienna and Venice, and has been influenced through history by different historical and cultural elements of both cities. It is also located in the very centre of Slovenia, making it the ideal hub to explore the rest of the country.

Ljubljana has got a picturesque and compact city centre full of romantic attractions.

The most recognizable symbol is the dragons of the Dragon Bridge, which according to local legends are the protectors of the city.

In the last few years, the city has been completely redesigned with the aim of making it more sustainable. Transportation has been dramatically improved over the past decade and Ljubljana has become handier for both tourists and locals. One of the main is features is the Kavalir (which literally means “gentle helper”), an electric-powered vehicle which offer a free ride for locals and tourists within the pedestrian zones.

Here below you can find some of the most exciting experiences to try while you are visiting this beautiful city:

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Embankments © Blaz Pogacnik, Ljubljana Tourism Photo Library

Get to know the Ljubljanica River and its interesting history: from Ancient Rome to the construction of the railway in the mid-19th century, the Ljubljanica was the major trade and supply route for the region. On its way to Ljubljana, the river flows through the unique natural landscape. Its bed is one of Slovenia’s most important archaeological sites, preserving traces of inhabitants since prehistory. Today, its main characteristic is the design of the old city centre’s river embankments, by the architect Jože Plečnik. An expert guide will show you the beautiful weeping willow-lined terraced walk alongside the Trnovski Pristan embankment and the famous Trnovo Bridge, Cobblers’ Bridge and Triple Bridge.

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© Nea Culpa, Ljubljana Tourism Photo Library

If you are into jogging and walking, The Path of Remembrance and Comradeship is definitely a great choice. The Path, sometimes referred to as ‘The Path along the Barbed Wire’ or ‘The Green Ring’, symbolizes the dedication of Ljubljana’s inhabitants to a healthy lifestyle. It is a 35-kilometre recreational path running along the former military wired fence that surrounded Ljubljana during the Second World War. Along the path you will find memorial pillars, marking the locations of WWII bunkers.

 

Established in 1810, the Ljubljana Botanical Garden is Slovenia’s oldest cultural, scientific and educational institution operating uninterruptedly since its foundation. The Garden contains more than 4,500 different species and subspecies of different plants: one-third of them can be found in Slovenia only. In 2015 the Ljubljana Tourism Association identified a pure white rose to be named after the clean and green Slovenian capital. The same year, the “Ljubljana Rose” was planted in parks, roundabouts and in other public spaces across the city. You can admire these beautiful flowers when visiting the city during the blossom season (May and June) and the bulbs can also be purchased at Ljubljana Botanical Garden Shop.

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Castle Hill © Blaz Pogacnik, Ljubljana Tourism Photo Library

Ljubljana Castle is definitely the city’s main attraction, standing on a hill above downtown Ljubljana for about 900 years now. The Castle houses a permanent exhibition on the entire known history of Slovenia, a Puppet Museum, and some important historical buildings such as the Chapel of St George and the Prison. The Outlook Tower and the ramparts offer the most beautiful views of the city. The Castle can be quickly reached by funicular and hosts a café and two restaurants (Strelec and Gostilna na Gradu). Some of the inside halls can be hired for art exhibitions or private events.

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Ljubljana Marshes © Darko Brenko, Ljubljana Tourism Photo Library

The Ljubljana Marshes is a natural area along the Ljubjanica River, just outside the capital’s borders. It is known for its unique fauna and flora and is listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site for the remains of prehistoric pile dwellings. Due to the unique characteristics of the soil, the marshes have perfectly preserved evidence from the past. Archaeologists have found more than 10,000 artefacts from different historical periods, which are kept in museums in Ljubljana and abroad. The most important relic on display is the world’s oldest wooden wheel, dating approximately from 3,350 and 3,100 B.C.

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Kannik by Athena Lao, licensed under CC BY 2.0

The region of Ljubljana also offers the possibility to organise some unique excursions to beautiful medieval little villages. One of the lovely towns to visit is Kamnik, situated along the Kamniška Bistrica River. Its former glory can still be seen in the medieval design of the old town and in the Zaprice Castle. On the way back to Ljubljana, do not miss the chance to visit the Volčji Potok Arboretum, the most visited botanical park in Slovenia. It covers an 85-hectare site and features 3,500 plants from all over the world. The Arboretum is perfect for a visit in all seasons. It regularly features seasonal flower exhibitions, like the spring tulip exhibition in April and the rhododendron exhibition in May (the oldest rhododendron in the park is more than 50 years old!). In June more than 3,000 roses blossom, a total of 1,000 different species. Greenhouses feature also cactus, orchid and tropical butterfly exhibitions.

 

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