Ljubljana surprises visitors with its stunning architecture and beating cultural heart. Quickly rising as a best-loved stop on the route of Interailers, Ljubljana is a European gem. Fairytale architecture, innovation in green urban planning and a student life that ignites the city night by night: Ljubljana is a city in its prime.
Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana is the country’s largest and most lively city. Last year Ljubljana was awarded the title of Green Capital of Europe by the European Commission. Its modernity for keeping the city space green is outstanding. The centre is mainly dedicated to pedestrians and cyclists, meaning public transport is as popular as ever. Ljubljana is one of the few European capitals which can boast of natural drinking water without prior treatment and is the European capital with the highest chare of separated waste collected. It is also the first ever capital in the EU in the ‘zerowaste’ programme. More impressively, Ljubljana has 542 square metres of public green space per resident. The lush parks and refreshing open spaces add the city’s extraordinary charm.
Wandering the curving Ljubljanica River is a good place to start as it runs through the heart of the capital. The river dives the medieval centre with the commercial hub and is lined with cafes and restaurants where people watching is matchless. The old town’s bustling centrepiece is the Presernov Trg square, an elegant example of the city’s architecture dominated by the Preseren monument built in honour of Slovenia’s greatest poet France Preseren.
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Dominating the river is the iconic Dragon Bridge, a symbol of Ljubljana. The bridge was constructed in 1900 and it was one of the largest bridges of its kind in Europe, displaying the beauty of Art Nouveau architecture. The bridge was designed by Professor Josef Melan, an engineer specialising in reinforced concrete bridges and the legendary father of the theory underlying static calculations for large suspension bridges. Therefore the bridge symbolises the new static calculations of the time as well as the reinforced concrete that paved the way for urban expansion. The ornate dragons terrify and delight visitors with their ambiguous expressions.
Sitting east of the Old Town on a 375m hill, the Ljubljana castle is a might medieval fortress. The casle dates back to the 15h Century and has carried a range of functions throughout history. Due to its differing purposes and the varying historical climates the castle’s architecture is a jumble and therefore a fascinating tour. The views of the city from the castle are outstanding and the relaxed romantic atmosphere should be enjoyed. Cultural events are held in the castle throughout the year so look out for different events as well as the tour. Art exhibitions, theatre, concerts and out-door cinemas are a fantastic way to tap into Slovenia’s culture in an enchanting setting. Another striking show of architecture is the Cathedral of St Nicholas, a Baroque cathedral with trin towers and a green coloured domes.
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Of course, the green city’s proudest attraction is Tivoli Park, the green heart of the city. Its located on the outskirts of the centre district and offers endless activities. The park was designed in 1813 by the French engineer Jean Blanchard and covers around five square km. Tivoli Park includes a botanical garden, numerous playgrounds and the impressive Tivoli mansion. Leading up to the mansion is the parks Jakopič Promenade designed by the architect Jože Plečnik. The park also includes an outdoor swimming pool, a sports park, a roller-slating rink and a huge hall hosting concerts and sporting events.
Modern culture also thrives in Ljubljana. The Metelkova Mesto is an alternative cultural centre developed from a former army barracks. The centre is a lively hub of artistic, social and intellectual talent and brings together a variety of events and artistic practices. The exhibition spaces are unique and the public art and graffiti is vibrant and enticing. Students love this place and with around 50,000 students in the city it is always alive. Students are also to thank for for the party life in Ljubljana. The outdoor terraces spill into the busy bars and then the clubs burst into life. The city’s main square Presernov Trg is packed into the early hours. A day spent enjoying the architecture and exhibitions city-wide is no better ended than with a night following the crowds around the animated city.
Why do you love Ljubljana?