ljubljana slovenia

Highlights from Ljubljana

Europe Slovenia

ljubljana slovenia

Ljubljana took us by surprise.

Going in, we had fairly low expectations for Slovenia’s capital city–we knew that it was small, it was supposed to be cute, there was a Dragon Bridge (sounded awesome), and generally a couple of days was considered enough time to spend there.

What we found was that what Ljubljana (hard to spell, hard to say: pronounced lyoo-BLYAH-nah) lacked in size it made up for in personality. The word that kept coming to mind over and over there was funky. This was a fun, bright, and colorful city that rapidly captured our attention and held it for our entire visit.

ljubljana slovenia

Here are some of Ljubljana’s highlights in our eyes:

Metelkova

Ljubljana was home to a large amount of street art, but nowhere was that more apparent than in the district of Metelkova. Metelkova was once made up of army barracks, but the area was abandoned by the military in the ‘90’s, after the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.

metelkova ljubljana

A whole host of artists, hippies and dreamers moved into the now-available space, and they haven’t left.

We visited during the day, so the area was quiet, but not abandoned: a few people were around who looked like they worked at the clubs and were preparing for the night ahead, an occasional visitor would come by with a camera, and teenagers in a chemical-induced euphoria occupied the jungle gym.

This was one of my favorite places to photograph in Ljubljana: it was vibrant and colorful everywhere we turned, and downright bizarre in some spots. The entire district was, in a word, captivating.

metelkova ljubljana slovenia

The Dessert Culture

Location after location on our Europe trip seemed to be home to places that were lacking what Jeremy and I would consider incredible desserts: pastries and gelato are delicious, but they’re not exactly in the same league as a decadent cake or a tasty piece of pie.

Ljubljana was happy to satiate these cravings.

Every restaurant we saw had a dessert menu that involved more than 1-2 items and didn’t seem like an afterthought–we hadn’t seen that since the USA. Cakes, elaborate sundaes, cheesecake… the possibilities seemed endless.

We ended up trying chocolate cake (amazing), classic New York style cheesecake (also amazing), and giant mugs of hot cocoa (yes, amazing, but also too big to finish).

The Dragon Bridge

Of course the Dragon Bridge would make the list.

This is possibly the most famous landmark in Ljubljana, and even though the bridge is small, it lived up to the hype: a large green dragon guards each of the four corners of the bridge.

ljubljana slovenia

There are multiple theories as to how dragons ended up part of Ljubljana’s culture, but the bottom line is that they have long played a role in it, and still do. There is a dragon present on Ljubljana’s coat of arms, and they have also been known to show up in the labels for various companies who are from the city

The Statues

Staying in line with its funky attitude, Ljubljana’s center is home to many bronze statues. Rather than being the predictable themes that you see in many of Europe’s statues (men on horses, topless women in fountains, noblemen standing tall in squares), these are decidedly… different.

Most memorable, to me, is the statue of a human-looking figure, complete with tail.

ljubljana slovenia

The Eclectic Architecture

From the medieval Ljubljana Castle overlooking the city to a dramatic, triangle-shaped building on the other side of the river, Ljubljana is carpeted in wildly varying architecture. It makes for an unforgettable mix, and fits in with the city’s vibe well.

The famous Triple Bridge is directly next to a clear, modern one that looks almost designed for the locks that hang on it.

ljubljana slovenia

Lock Bridges are everywhere in Europe these days, and are controversial for a reason–but it greatly amused me to see how neat and orderly these locks were hung. This was very different from the Lock Bridge that we saw in Paris a few years ago, where the locks were stuffed on it haphazardly, one on top of the other.

ljubljana slovenia

Overall, we had a blast in Ljubljana. We found Ljubljana Castle itself to be forgettable, but everything else that we encountered was tons of fun. The city’s funky vibe made it a great place to explore, and while we’d never want to spend a week in a row there, we’d be happy to pass through for a few days each time we’re in the area.

3 Comments Write a comment

3 Comments

  • Lexklein July 26, 2016

    Ljubljana was a very pleasant surprise for us, too. I’d read loads of good things and insisted it be on our itinerary, but I still didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as we did. We were truly captivated for the days we were there – drinking wine and eating olives (which I hate everywhere else – haha) by the Ljubljanica River, catching a free concert two nights in a row at the university, taking a boat ride, wandering the cobblestone streets, hiking up to the castle and drinking dark beers up there – well, that’s enough, but the point is we adored this photogenic and fun little city!

  • Kate Storm July 26, 2016

    Oh, I’m jealous of your free concerts! We looked into going to the Philharmonic, but it didn’t end up fitting into our schedule. Next time! It’s definitely a city worth returning to.

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