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Ljubljana is the largest city and the capital of Slovenia but with a population of only 280,000 people, feels like a big town rather than a small city. For visitors staying in the Old Town, it feels like a village. The city has a long and rich history. From the 13th century it was the capital of a region called Carniola, today almost completely contained within Slovenia’s borders. But its history goes back much further as the Ljubljanica River, that snakes through the city, was where Jason and his Argonauts sailed after procuring the Golden Fleece, according to Greek mythology.
The slender streets of the Old Town reflect many of the eras of history of Ljubljana, with Renaissance, Baroque and Vienna Secession buildings still standing, along with exquisite Art Nouveau facades, built after the 1895 earthquake. An earlier earthquake in 1511 resulted in many of the city's churches being rebuilt in the Baroque style. The Ljubljanica River also offered architects a wonderful chance to express themselves in the picturesque bridges across the river, such as the Art Nouveau Dragon Bridge, built in 1901, which adds to the city’s rich architectural mosaic.Read more
Overlooking the city centre is medieval Ljubljana Castle and this handsome structure is the city’s most prominent landmark. Given the country’s green credentials, you don’t have to look far for parkland. Linked to the town centre is Tivoli Park, planned while Ljubljana was the capital of the French Illyrian Provinces. In the 1920s the park was redesigned by local architect Joze Plecnik, who placed the Jakopic Promenade through the park, creating a link between Tivoli Castle (a 17th century mansion) and Ljubljana Castle.
The city isn’t a museum, however, and the number of students living here gives the city a conspicuous vibrancy. The emphasis on the arts is pronounced, with numerous galleries, museums and theatres, as well as one of the oldest Philharmonics in the world. However one of the best things to do in the city is sit in a cafe in the Old Town, sipping local wines and trying their cheeses and hams – that too is part of the local culture.