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July 12th 2015
Published: August 1st 2015
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I was too tired to collect my bus tickets on the previous evening and had to get up at four in the morning in order to get in time to the bus station (tickets should be collected 30 minutes before departure), the departure was at 5.30 and I had about half an hour to wait. Actually, the bus appeared some 40 minutes late. The name of the company was Croatia Bus. The drive to Slovenian border took about 25 minutes and we quickly passed it and in about two hours arrived in Ljubljana.

I went on Miklosiceva Street in the direction of the city’s heart, and saw an office of my own Russian Sberbank – actually the only bank I’m using for my payments, cards and other money matters. I managed to withdraw cash from my bank card in its office in Novi Sad, and no fee was charged, though Sberbank’s exchange rates are not too profitable. I also saw large neat waste containers with classification by types arranged right along the curb. Usually one’s eye easily spots things not customary in his/her native country.

The first major sight (in fact, a plurality of sights) I saw was the pink baroque Franciskanska cerkev and Presernov trg, Tromostovje (Triple Bridge) across Ljubljanica River, and the castle (or fortress) seen on the hill top in the distance, peeping and towering above buildings on its right and left, truly like a similar view in Lyon. Preseren, France was the greatest Slovenian poet.

Ljubljana is known as a mediaeval settlement since the XII century. It was a typical mediaeval town at the foot of the hill with a fortress, and the river served as a barrier against enemies. It was named Laybach in the Habsburgs’ State from 1335 till 1918, and its name Ljubljana is used since 1918. After the earthquake of 1511 the town was rebuilt in the renaissance style. The baroque style flourished in the XVII and XVIII centuries. During the second world war the city was first occupied by Italian and then German armies, and was fenced with a 30-km long barbed wire. In 1945 the city became capital of Slovenia as part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (the country doesn’t exist anymore). According to Lonely Planet survey of 2014 Ljubljana was among the ten best European cities from the viewpoint of architecture, nature, history, and food. Iwouldn’tdisputethat.

I proceeded. Of course, I decided to ascend the hill to the fortress. On the way I saw Mestna hisa (Town Hall) and Stolnica sv. Nikolaja, and the fountain of three rivers (another sample of baroque architecture); Vodnikov trg with the Vodnik monument, and finally followed Studentovska Street to the Ljubljanski Grad. Valentin Vodnik was a Slovenian poet, priest and journalist. If you open the map, you’ll see that the winding paths have their own names like “Za ograjami”, “Razgledna steza”, “Ovinki”. It was excellent physical exercise with many fine views as rewards. I suppose Ljubljana has the best urban panorama I’ve seen so far. Note the blurred silhouettes of mountain hills encircling the city. There’s also a funicular to the foot of the fortress if you are too tired or unwilling to be out of breath.

The fortress was opening at ten o’clock so I had to wait a quarter of an hour. The fortress, of small dimensions, was first built in the XII and rebuilt in the XV century. It served as a defence structure till the XVIII century. Nowadays many concerts and other entertainments take place within its walls. There wasn’t much to see inside it. I started my descent on Ulica na Grad, saw the Cerkev sv. Jakoba and Levstikov Trg, and emerged on the river embankment where something like a fair was arranged (selling souvenirs, old books, paintings etc).

I saw the fine and harmonic ensemble of the Kongresni Trg with the colourful University Building (I took it for something like Parliament at first), Ursulinska Cerkev sv. Trojice, Slovenska filharmonija (sounds like ‘feel harmony’ – a nice association, is it not?), plus a green islet of a park. This complex also attracted my eye when I was ascending the hill.

I proceeded to the Parliament building and Trg Republike and then decided to have a bite, returned to Presernov trg and found a small café with coffee and croissant, tasty and cheap, and also visited a supermarket (paid for my products myself via a machine – also an unusual experience).

I returned to the train station and asked for a return ticket seat reservation but my company didn’t have a return trip until SIX in the evening. I hadn’t the option of waiting for so long (I’d simply fall asleep). I must have enquired into the matter beforehand. But nothing doing, I simply bought a new ticket for 12.40 and simply waited, sat in the park nearby, and when my feet recovered walked again to the center and saw some more interesting things, such as the Dragon Bridge.

The Dragon Bridge is decorated with four figures of the dragon, the city’s ancient symbol, known since the XV century. The dragon replaced the winged lion, and is perhaps related to the traditional image of Saint George destroying the snake.

My bus to Zagreb arrived an hour late (it was coming all the way from Munchen). I was not happy about the delay but when we drove out to the highway I realized that we’d arrive very quickly.

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