Ljubljana! Sounds complex right !!
Well, beautiful places do sound complex!
Pronounced as Lu-Bliana, this town is a perfect combination of funky and memorable.
While reading about it, I was perplexed whether I should visit it as I read this complex name. But, it was a delight !!
So, I visited Ljubljana in 2012, and these people were already living decades ahead in terms of the city layout, construction, paved roads, garbage segregation. They were way ahead of time.
There was so much to take away from here. Before talking about the places to visit at Ljubljana, I want to relive the town by writing about its beauty.
Ljubljana - The Futuristic Town
The memories of the streets are still fresh even though I am short of pictures. It was the time when I was still buying plastic water bottles from shops instead of refilling.
And here, as I walked down the streets, there were six coloured dustbins. Nothing spilt out, nothing yuck about it, nothing stained around. It had six colours, and the level of segregation was to such minute levels which supported hygiene. There were bins for paper, plastic, food, e-waste, broken glass on the street!
The citizens had to swipe a card against the dustbin, then drop in the segregated waste once the bin opened.
There was a separate lane for cycles, and tourists could hire bicycles and commute around the city. There are free charging points for electric cars almost on every street.
I witnessed this level of cleanliness and innovation for the first time. And here we are, still struggling to segregate waste at our homes!!
Even though I agree that I can't just be satisfied, however more I write about that town, I will take you along now for a walk in the beautiful city.
Best Things to do at Ljubljana
Owing to the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation and the Triple Bridge along with the statue of the man after which the square is named, France Preseren;
Preseren Square is the place in which every tourist hangs out !!
France Preseren was a 19th century romantic Slovene poet, and his most accomplished works have been translated to other languages.
But that is just not the only reason why the statue exists!
Have you read 'Veronika Decides to Die' by Paulo Coelho?
Surprisingly, That book is based on Ljubljana and Bled and has referred to this Preseren statue.
The story attached to this statue is as follows -
It's Another unique romantic story like the one Romeo and Juliet or Laila, and Majnu had !!
Preseren fell in love with the daughter of a wealthy merchant, Julija Primic. Though fearing his inferior status, he never confessed to Julija due to the unmatched economic status.
He came by the bridge every day, looking at the window of her house, hoping to catch a glimpse.
Julija was the muse of many of Preseren's romantic poems. But, the romance did not bloom, and it remained yet another unaccomplished one-sided love while Julija got married off to someone else.
Preseren never stopped loving Julija and reiterated his love for Julija even on his deathbed
As I narrate this story, I reminisce and, in my imagination, sit back, looking at that window and Preseren's statue. I hope for the fulfilment of this wholesome love story and that they come back alive !! The statue is so surreal and exemplifies his actual presence.
The story carried me away; whether I feel sad about Preseren or longing for Julija, I don't know.
A triple bridge is adjacent to the Preseren square and can be seen side by side.
The first thing that would come to your mind when you see is, "Why?" Why do they have three bridges side by side as? It makes no sense, and it doesn't even connect different sections of the road !!!!
One was built as a replacement for the previous wooden bridge and now a motorable road. The other two were built for the pedestrians to cross.
The place, though, is filled with people walking and hanging around the park. I could not spot any vehicles.
Most of the people preferred cycles on the streets, and the option of renting one and flexible drop off points made it a popular choice.
What is a European city without a lover's bridge that is heavy with locks?
Even Ljubljana has the Butcher's bridge filled with locks. What is more Interesting are the quirky sculptures around with locks put on them
The most recent ones are from Jakov Brdar, and his famous installation of Adam and Eve can be found near the Dragon Bridge. And they are sculpted crying because Eve had consumed the apple, and they have been kicked out of Paradise.
Okay don't give up on reading because it is about one more bridge :) But the symbol of Ljubljana itself is Dragon, so how can we not have a bridge for the dragon. Dragon is even part of their emblem. The dragon bridge is the prominent one and you can see many sculptures of dragon at other parts of the city too. That is because Ljubljana was once a big swamp and the dragon had occupied the swamp. And Jason, the Greek hero passed through the Ljubljanica river along with his group of army called Argonauts. Since it was winter they all decide to camp by the river. But Jason spots the dragon occupying the marshland around and along the river. Jason defeats the dragon and occupies the land making him officially the first citizen of Ljubljana. With that dragon has become the mascot of Ljubljana now and you can spot the dragon symbol everywhere.
The funny legend about this bridge is that it was believed that if virgins pass through this bridge, the dragon would wag its tail :P So the girls of Ljubljana named this dragon "mother in law" :D
Quirky Sculptures of Ljubljana
Some have a love for street art, but I have a love for sculptures.
And I was carried away with many sculptures around Ljubljana.
They are all quirky, modern art and sometimes look disfigured but are very creative. And it is just strewn around. The small ones around the bridge areas, though, you can pick it up and put it in your pocket.
The most recent ones are from Jakov Brdar and his famous installation of Adam and Eve can be found near the Dragon Bridge. Below is the sculpture. And they are crying cos Eve has consumed the apple and they have been chucked out of the Paradise :)
Due to a paucity of time, I could not visit the castle. But, Ljubljana castle can be seen from anywhere in Ljubljana.
The castle is atop a hill, and a funicular takes you to the top of the hill. A funicular is like a tram.
The website of Ljubljana castle enlists various fun things to do apart from just touring the palace. They have an escape room game where you need to solve puzzles and save the dragon in an hour.
Their site always shows scheduled events that you can plan to attend. You can even plan your wedding there !!
Ljubljana Central Market
It is often a delight visiting markets, picking up local produce and buying local bites.
Interestingly, just like all European central markets, they also close their shops by 3 pm and start to party.
So our tour group reached around 4 pm, and there wasn't a single soul in the market selling anything. But the market is gigantic.
There is an indoor market as well as an outdoor market. If one notices the indoor market, it resembles an important building owing to its vast space and fine architecture.
Picnic by Ljubljanica River
The Ljubljanica river runs around the city.
Thanks to it there are numerous bridges around the city. There are many places with provisions to sit and watch the calm water or have your mini picnic. You can also go for a boat ride down the river.
Quirky buildings of Ljubljana
It might sound like something straightforward, but it is fun. The Vurnik house, aka the cooperative business bank building, has colourful cathedrals and churches. Who would have thought a bank to be this bright?
Their parliament has sculptures of naked people all around it for no particular reason.
And then, if you walk around the town hall, you are going to feast your eyes on buildings of Baroque architecture.
Our tour group was walking around the town hall, and it just happened by chance that the Mayor of the city was walking by. He called our tour guide and asked where we were from and offered us a picture together.
Ljubljana is filled with chilled out people...
I chilled out...
Feast on some Seafood
With the river all around the city, don't forget to sit down for a seafood meal.
I opted for a seafood soup, this was the first time I had it, and it was so yummmm...
It had fish, prawn, squid and the bowl was super huge. It came along with a fresh soft, warm bread basket by the side.
Day trip to Lake Bled
We can reach Bled in about an hour as it is about 50km from Ljubljana. Bled is known for its scenic Lake Bled with the church in the middle of the Lake and a castle above the hill.
It looks as if it came straight out of a fairytale!
They have these traditional wooden boats that are rowed by hand by Bled coachmen called Fijakaers.
Legend has it that if you make a wish and ring the church bell, it comes true !!
The most beautiful view of the island is from the castle.
Also, don't forget to have their traditional 60-year-old recipe, Bled Cream Cake. Called Kremsnita, it is a vanilla sponge cake with a crusty layer on top. There are also many hiking spots nearby and thermal spas that you can relax at.
Well, I hope I gave you a content round-trip around Ljubljana. While visiting Slovenia, it is good to start with Ljubljana or have it as a base and tour around.
How to Reach Ljubljana
Ljubljana has its airport called Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport, which makes it possible to fly straight here. As for me, we had a bus for ourselves as we were driving from Plitvice National Park to Ljubljana before proceeding to Salzburg.