Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia. And if you are wondering about its pronunciation then you are not the only one. I had a hard time saying it right as well. It’s Loo BeeeYaaanaaa. Just like Slovakia, Slovenia is also a Slavic country. But be aware, do not call Slovenians Slovakian.
We arrived at the capital of Slovenia for 2 days. By 2 and half hours of train ride from Graz, Austria. The train ride was pleasant. With a nice beautiful landscape, we got to watch through the window. The main station of Ljubljana is not fancy and shiny at all.
According to the ‘official website‘, “The main train station in Ljubljana was built in 1849 when Slovenia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was constructed as part of the route from Vienna (Austria) to Trieste (in modern day Italy). The building was renovated in 1980 under the direction of architect Mako Mušič.“
Conveniently, we have arrived from Austria. After our 2 days of stay in Ljubljana, we are going to Padova via Trieste. The surrounding of the station is quite Ghetto-ish. Old communist style houses full of graffitis on walls, dusty and old.
According to our Google map, we were about 18 minutes of walk away from our apartment. Which is luckily right beside the River Ljubljanica with the view of the Ljubljana Castle. Essentially, we are in the best spot of Ljubljana. However, Our Apartment was inside an old Italian style building and situated on the top floor (4th floor) Which was difficult to climb up via the stairs with our backpacks. There were no lifts. The apartment itself on the other hand was pretty big and well furnished. Still can’t beat the apartment of Vienna though.
Anyway, our first priority was the business as usual: Do the grocery for next 2 days of our stay in Ljubljana, Eat and Relax. We went to Spar and did about 29 EUR worth of groceries for 2 lunch, 2 breakfasts and 2 dinners.
A visit to Ljubljana Castle:
Following morning we headed for the Ljubljana Castle by climbing up the Castle Hill (It is a castle, on top of a Hill = Castle Hill). The castle is understandably at the top of the Hill and visible from almost any part of Ljubljana. This is definitely the Landmark of the capital city with its other counterparts: The Ljubljanica River and Dragon Bridge.
There was an option to take the Funicular. But climbing up on foot was our choice of transportation because it would allow us the explore the surroundings better. According to the local information, we should have taken 20 minutes on foot. But we paused many times to catch our breaths or to take photographs. The more we climbed up the more we could see the majority of the Ljubljana city. Once we have reached the top, we found the surroundings exquisite, beautiful and calm.
The sun was shining through the tall trees in the park of the castle. And some parts of the green floor were slightly frozen due to lack of sunshine. There were many viewpoints to enjoy the beautiful cityscapes of Ljubljana and in the North we could see the Kamnik Alps. After a nice promenade in the nature, we walked around the Castle.
The Central Market:
After exploring around as much as we could, we took a different path to head back down to the town and ended up in the Central Market at the Vodnikov Trg and Pogačarnev trg squares, next to Ljubljanica river. Don’t bother trying to pronounce them. I tried and failed. The market seems to be one of those open markets where locals can buy local and fresh products, where everyone knows everyone.
After that we took a walk back to the apartment via the Ljubljanica river and Pogačarnev trg squares with the view of the castle. Which are essentially the three best things to see in Ljubljana. But, we had few more things to see before we could say it’s over.
History of Ljubljanica river:
This river flows through the city and it’s known for many historical Bridges. And of course, both banks of the river are the heart of city’s social life with a lot of small businesses, cafes restaurants and the old town itself which is the world heritage site. Very very picturistic with its historical buildings , bridges and the Ljubljana Castle in the background.
The Dragon Bridge happens to be the one of the iconic sculptures of Ljubljana and its river.
PREŠERNOV TRG SQUARE is situated next to the Triple Bridge with statue of a poet in the middle, colorful, historical buildings around it with a model of the whole town next to the statue.
Afternoon, we took rest with a nice homemade meal.
THE OLD ABANDONED MILITARY BARRACK :
In the evening, we headed to an well-known abandoned Military Barrack called
Metelkova. Not far from the Ljubljana train station.
What we have heard about this location and what we have seen in reality were two different things.
Sure, it’s a historical place where in 1991 marked the end of Yugoslavia and Independence of Slovenia and Croatia. When the Yugoslavian army left, what’s left was a leftover military Barracks. Then the empty space became part of youth organizations and LGBT activities. However , the ambience of whole area was exact opposite of vibrant atmospheres around Ljubljanica river and the city centre. Very quiet, spooky, not well maintained, there were people but we felt like we did not belong there. We did love the contemporary art works and graffitis inside the Barrack though. That being said, we left that place as quickly as possible.
We took a walk back to our apartment as sun went almost down. There are lot of construction works going on everywhere inside the city. Graffitis seems to be a part of Culture because it’s everywhere. The night time river view and the square were pretty and full of lights.
We decided to enjoy a romantic dinner at the Julija Restaurant with some classic Slovenian dishes accompanied by some Slovenian wines. Didn’t know that Slovenia is a wine producers. Considering the size of the country they have a lot of winyards. We were very pleased with everything. Great service.
Our 2nd day of outdoor activities has lasted for about just over one and a half hours. Thanks to Ljubljana’s concentrated and city-centric design around the river, we covered the majority of the city on the first day. Because everything is nearby and easy to get around.
Therefore, our next and last thing to see in Ljubljana was Tivoli park aka the Central Park of Ljubljana. Via KONGRESNI TRG Square and TRG REPUBLIKE Square.
KONGRESNI TRG is a big square with a park called the “Star” which was built during the Soviet era. There are statues everywhere from different times of Slovenian history.
On the other hand, TRG REPUBLIKE is another big square where Slovenian Independence was declared and celebrated. Two gigantic identical buildings covered the sun on the other side. Built during communist era and currently serving as the Slovenian National Assembly.
The Central Park or TIVOLI Park is similar to any other big parks around the world with natural reserve. This one is also beautiful and relaxing, seems to be a good place to enjoy a quality family times; fury dogs were everywhere, kids were skateboarding or young and old couples were dating around the photographs exposition about mathematics and space. We still had extra time in our hands to spend a little more time around the river. Then in the evening, a much needed massage for both of us to end our trip.
Ljubljana is beautiful and lot of things to see. But one full day is enough to cover the “Must See” such as, The Ljubljanica river, Ljubljana Castle, All the Bridges on the river, Metelkova – The abandoned military barrack, The Main Square or PRESERNOV TRG and a dinner with Slovenian dishes with a local beer or a gin and tonic, or locally produced wines. Then a couple of hours on the following days to do all the other ‘Extras‘.
For example, there is the famous ‘Bled lake‘ about an hour and half driving from Ljubljana. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to visit. But very highly recommended.
We reccomend www.use-it.travel for local touristic information.
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