Spending an Afternoon at Ljubljana
Ljubljana is a perfect picture of a small, warm and romantic city, just the type you can imagine yourself exploring on your journey throughout Europe.
It’s easy to spend an afternoon wandering the streets of the Slovenian capital, admiring the baroque and renaissance influences on the vibrant buildings.
Here you can observe people crossing our unique bridges adorning the beautiful Ljubljanica river, listen to them enjoying themselves and connecting with each other in cafes and restaurants, all thriving with energy on both banks of the river.
In Ljubljana, there is much to admire. One of the city’s best features is the mixture of the old and new. Everything is vibrant and relaxed at the same time.
The Dragon Bridge
When you pass the Dragon Bridge, you will encounter the lively city market. It is sure to compel your senses with an abundance of smells and vivid colours with all sorts of flowers, local vegetables and herbs.
You could also buy something for your loved ones back home as a large array of souvenirs and local arts and crafts products are displayed there. The market is surrounded by three of Ljubljana’s most prized attractions.
It’s situated between the impressive Dragon Bridge and Triple Bridge, and you can’t miss the majestic and picturesque Ljubljana Cathedral (Church of St. Nicholas) that is overlooking the market.
Everything in Ljubljana’s old city centre is within walking distance, so when you roam just a little bit further down by the river you will arrive in one of Ljubljana’s urban centres. It’s the Špica embankment, often referred to by the locals as ‘the beach.’
This is where the youth of Ljubljana get together and socialise by the shimmering river. Especially in the evenings, it is brimming with life and laughter and is another example of life in Ljubljana.
There is also one other impressive way of getting to the beach. You can take a boat tour, which is an adventure in itself.
This will give you a glimpse at Ljubljana from a different perspective. The tour starts at the triple bridge and ends at the beach.
Every Friday, you have the opportunity to truly immerse yourself in Slovenian cuisine when the central market hosts the Open Kitchen Food Market.
Ljubljana’s Heartbeat: The Open Kitchen
If you visit the open kitchen, you will be introduced to Ljubljana’s heartbeat, as everyone who finds time gathers there for a chance to enjoy their meal in the summer air.
It is one of the best food experiences Ljubljana has to offer, as it is a chance to choose from food made by Ljubljana’s best restaurants all in one place and the chefs even cook it right in front of you!
This is also a good example of how relaxed people in Ljubljana are; you will often see us casually sitting on the pavements throughout the city and enjoying our food.
Walking trough the city streets, you’ll often hear music. It could be in the form of a man playing the accordion on Čopova street or all sorts of bands performing at Prešeren square.
In the old city centre, we also have a unique site called the Križanke complex where we hold all sorts of events, including concerts. The Križanke complex was originally a church and a monastery dating back to 1228.
It has also been the home of Festival Ljubljana, the institute that is responsible for organising a myriad of cultural events in Ljubljana since 1953 to present day.
Why is Ljubljana the City of Dragons?
But why is Ljubljana the city of dragons? As beautiful as the city is, it makes sense that it should have a guardian. Our comes in the form of a dragon.
Dragons are included in our architecture, the most famous among them being the majestic Dragon Bridge.
You can find a dragon on the label of our beer Union, and we also have a dragon in our coat of arms.
A very interesting legend of how we came to choose the dragon as our symbol, has been passed on by generations:
Legend tells us that the ancient Greek hero Jason, together with the squad of heroes on the ship Argo, sailed to Kholido, the land by the Black Sea, to win the Golden Fleece (the skin of the golden ram) from the dragon who was guarding it.
After a tough battle and with some help from the king’s daughter Medea who fell in love with him, he defeated the dragon and won the Golden Fleece.
After the battle, Medea and Jazon ran to their ship and rapidly sailed off. That upset the king, who sent his fleet in pursuit. In its haste, the ship Argo accidentally sailed into the mouth of Donava river.
There was no turning back from there, so the Argonauts eventually found themselves stopping at the spring of Ljubljanica river and settled there to dismantle the ship and prepare it for transfer to the Adriatic sea.
It is said that the settlement was called Emona.
In the vicinity of Emona, there was a lake and a marsh where Jason one day again encountered a terrible monster. He fought it and won.
The city which developed in this area chose the monster as its symbol. Today it is called Ljubljana and our coat of arms bears the famous dragon.
Green Capital of Europe 2016
Ljubljana, the city enchanted with dragons, also holds the title of Green Capital of Europe 2016.
Each year, the title goes to a European city that has shown progress on the subject in the past years and that has ambitious goals for environmental development in the future.
This year, the title is ours and Ljubljana will be hosting all sorts of events throughout the summer to raise even more awareness on the subject.
So far we have been doing a really good job. We have made a lot of changes, and at this point we are Europe`s capital with the highest share of sorted rubbish.
We sort out an outstanding 63 percent. Moreover, our waste management companies have also presented a 2035 strategy where our waste reduces to zero!
There is also another 2050 strategy out there which entails zero carbon footprint. I think we are already well on our way with this one also, as our city buses have been replaced with new ones that run on methane.
If you find yourself in Ljubljana, you will also be able to go on a tour of the city with a zero emission sightseeing train named Urban. It runs solely on solar panels. That’s very green, don’t you think?
Our beautiful city is also placed at the very top in Europe in terms of green surfaces per inhabitant.
We have an impressive 542 sum of green surface per resident, so you can imagine our city is remarkably green.
One of the biggest contributors to this outstanding ratio is our charming Tivoli Park. The park is the biggest green surface in the city with almost 280.000m2, and it offers he best way to get in touch with nature if you are living in the city.
One more delightful fact is also that the park stretches almost directly into the city centre so if you feel like going for a walk in nature, the park is situated just a couple of minutes away from Prešeren Square and the Three Bridges.
Tivoli Park is home to an amazing children’s playground and is the host of many exhibitions throughout the year.
You can go there to enjoy some recreation in nature, or you can go see the boatyard and just relax and have a drink there while admiring the view, which includes a pond full of lotuses and a wide array of roses.
There are also plenty of other possible escapes to nature in Ljubljana. One of them is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the southeastern part of Europe.
The botanical garden of the University of Ljubljana has been operating since 1810, and this is also a site full of soul-soothing views.
If you feel like exploring Ljubljana on a bike, I have good news for you, Ljubljana is a very bike friendly city. The paths are well arranged and you can even rent out city bikes.
My suggestion if you go cycling is to go visit the Banks of River Sava. This is a new development in Ljubljana, so far we have built eight kilometres of walking trails and bicycle paths, a playground with a climbing wall and even two kilometres of horse ridings paths.
It goes without saying that the scenery beside the river Sava is magnificent, that makes this without doubt one of the best options for recreation and relaxing in Ljubljana nature.
Consider this article your quick introduction to the lifestyle in our beloved Ljubljana, and a way of giving you some insight into our mentality. All the best from the City of Dragons!
If you come, you are welcome to come stay at our Slovenian House Vida B&B. We would be happy to welcome you here.
Author Bio: Tamara Rakovec is a 25-year-old student living in Ljubljana, the city of dragons. She is part of the Slovenian House team, their aim is to introduce and connect their lovely little country Slovenia to the whole wide world.