Ljubljana and The Dragon Bridge

My Slovenia trip started at Ljubljana airport. The view I had seen on the plane when we were getting close to the Ljubljana was enough to mesmerize me. It is a lush green small city.

Slovenia has a 2 millions of people population. 15% of it lives in Ljubljana, the capital.

We hired a house with 2 friends of mine. 60 Euros per night. Which is only 20 euros per person. We hired a navigation device from the airport with a vechile and entered the place we will stay in the navigation device. We paid 65 euros for them. And Slovenia has the cheapest gas of Europe. The woman who was leading me in navigation was saying “turn right,turn left” all the time. Which lead us to go in circles. We finally hired a taxi and followed it. The house we hired had a parking space of its own so we did not have that problem.

If we didn’t rent a car, we would pay 10 euros per person from the airport for a bus ride or 40 Euros for the taxi from the airport. We think it was wise to rent a car. It is a 25 kms road.

It got to my attention that there are many women drivers in Slovenia and everybody obeys the traffic law. Apartment blocks at the entrance of Ljubljana, left from the Federation of Jugoslovia catches your eye.

Slovenia was the first country to declare its indepedendency after the fall of Jugoslavia. It is the first one to enter the EU too. Main income of this country is from tourism. Bohinj lake for adventurers, Bled lake for romantics, Postojna cave for geography lovers, Northern Mountains for winter sportsmen, Piran and Portoroz for gamblers and sailors. There is something for everyone in this little country.

Ottoman Empire was ruling here when Suleyman the Magnificent was the sultan. Another important event was the sacred alliance “The Memorial Pillar” was gathered in this area after 1821, to lead the mixed up Europan politics after Napoleon.

The capital Ljubljana was settled in the both sides of the river Ljubljana. Which flows in the middle of the city. There is a big castle at the top of the city. You can walk to this castle or you can take the funicular railway for 5 euros. We took it because we did not want to waste much time. But after I saw the forest and the serpentine walk path, I wondered “should we have taken a walk?”. We watched the city, panaromically at the top. This castle was built on 12th century. The first center of Ljubljana was here. But in time, the settlement moved out of the castle. There is also a 3D expedition inside the castle which introduces the city, but it is usally very crowded. This castle is easily seeable from the city center.

We headed to the center of the old city after we took our photos and seen the castle all around. There is the three brothers bridge at the center of the old city. The vechiles can use the one in the middle with one lane. The others are for the pedestrians.

There is Preseren Square next to this bridge. Preseren is the national poet of Slovenians. Even since 1991, one of his poems is used as lyrics in their national anthem. Presen used to read poems for his valentine Juija Primic. To symbolize this, the face of the Presen is facing to a building. At the window he is staring, (no 4 house in Wolfova street) there is a bust of a lady, with her eyes on the Presen. France Preseren is one of thoe artists who did not get enough attention when he was alive. He died at 49.

The red Franciskansa church at the back of the statue in the square, creates a beautiful atmosphere especially in the sunset.

There are beautiful cafés is this square. It is also the center of luxury stores, so it is crowded at all times. But the most crowded hours are evening hours. Youngsters sitting under the statue and drinking and talking.

There are times that local clothed people do a dance in this square with a brass band but we could not see them. When we were there, there was a Peruvian group performing local music on the Three Brothers bridge. But it was really cool too.

The other important symbol of the city is the Dragon Bridge. The story of this bridge goes: Jason, one of the Greek Heroes, fought King Aites and beat him, then decided to go south with his beloved one. But he accidentaly came to Ljubljana. There was a giant dragon waiting him on the riverside. After fighting it and beating it, Jason was the first person to ever settle in here. There are two metallic dragon statues on two sides of the bridge. This bridge was built by Slovenian architect Joze Plecnik (1872-1957). This architect also has his signature on cities like Prag and Vienna.

Both sides of the river are alive and kicking. Small cafes, restaurants, bars… On Sundays, there is a big antique bazaar set up at the castle side of the river. You can find anything left from old times, plates, cups, pictures, gramophones, whatever you are looking for. Very fun bazaar.

Another meeting point for Ljubljanians is the Carniolan Fountain. Water is squirted out of the fish figures on the fountain. And you can drink it as much as you want because it comes right from the mountains. There is town hall at the back of the fountain.

When you walk to the opposite side from the Town Hall, you encounter a baroque cathedral with an interesting gate.

At the cathedrals close side to the river, there is a Bazaar area. Both open and closed top. You can find cheese, wine, souvenirs and a lot more inside.

Most choices for the dinner are available at the Truberjeva street and again, the restaurants on the riverside. There are many choices for food in Ljubljana even if it is a small city. You can find every kind of taste here. But i have to remind you, it is not a cheap city. People usually prefer game meats here. We had pizza and wine. The wine was a house wine, produced in Maribor area, was very light. Maribor is the second biggest city of Slovenia which is 122 kms away from Ljubljana, and has a 400 years history for wine making.

The night life of Ljubljana is also very fast. We 3 friends went to a bar named “On”. It was at the top of a building. Has a nice view. Very cosmopolite inside. French, Italian, Kosovans, Macedonians, Germans… and us. A city with a high student population. We had fun here until the first lights of the morning and walked back to our house. By the way, there is no alcohol sale after 24.00 at the cafes on the riverside. And you can buy from the markets as late as 21.00. The most popular beer brands are Union and Lasko.

The streets are even full with young people at nights. With wines and beers in their hands, they are strolling around. The pukers are a common view because of the alcohol. But it is not an unsafe city. So many police patrol are around so there are not many crimes.

On the Ljubljana river, there are many different small bridges. There are boats on the river that takes the tourists for a tour. We marched forward as long as the river went and it leaded us outside of the city. There are many houses with gardens, one or two floors. It is so peaceful that only sound around is the sound of leaves and the ducks on the river.

The Tivoli park inside the city is also worth seeing. There is a tank in front of the Modern History Museum at the right of the park entrance. This park is like an oxygen tube for the city with its walking paths, tennis courts, basketball fields and the trees that go as high as you can see, with the flowers in every colors. It was built in 17th century. 60% of Slovenia is forest. It is a country that nature lovers must see.



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