Ljubljana, pronounced [ljuˈbljàːna] is a lively university town in Slovenia, the country wedged between Austria and Italy. After an 1895 earthquake, architect Jose Plecnik redesigned the town using aspects of Roman, Medieval, Baroque and Hapsburg architecture that reflect its history. I keep thinking of it as “Little Venice” because of the small bridges that arch over the river and separate neighborhoods. On spring nights with good weather we sat outside in waterside restaurants and enjoyed regional food as music from adjoin cafes wafted through the air.
Since Ljubljana is flat, it’s great for strolling, and we spent lots of time meandering in and out of old buildings and into store fronts as we went from square to square, criss-crossing our way over the water. The red Franciscan Church of the Ascension dominates the main square, and happened to be right behind our hotel. Inside there’s an early Baroque basilica and one nave, plus frescos by Matej Steran that replace those ruined in the earthquake. We found the remains of the old Roman walls, watched chefs cook their signature dishes at the Central Market, and arrived at the newly renovated National Gallery just in time to walk through. On our last night we got to the Dragon Bridge and the Fountain of the Three Rivers in time to take photos of the famous sculptures before dusk folded in.
Like many towns and cities in Europe, there’s a castle at the top of a nearby hill, usually built over the first Roman settlement. A funicular goes up to the complex which had once been a medieval town. Inside the tower there’s a good museum of Slovenian history.
Since its beginning, Ljubljana has been a hub of trade, industry and culture since it is located between the Adriatic and Danube, and is close to Italy. International flights now leave and depart from its airport.
For trip planning: Postojana Caves and Lake Bled, two top tourist destinations, are close by.