Ljubljana – home to the world’s oldest music – is an ideal location for a three-day break. Discover what this historic city has to offer…
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Ljubljana is the capital and largest city of Slovenia. Despite this, it’s tiny – you can walk to everywhere you’ll want to visit, although some of it will be uphill.
Its compact nature makes it an ideal weekend visit – Ljubljana is also a city that doesn’t need sunshine to deliver, making it an ideal out-of-season destinations.
Ljubljana’s three bridges
The heart of Ljubljana is bisected by a river, the Ljubljanica (pronounced Ljubljanitsa), an unremarkable but pleasant enough stretch of water made famous by the three bridges, a truly bizarre cluster of structures that defy logic.
The site of the central bridge had been the main thoroughfare across the river since ancient time but by the start of the 20th Century it had become too small to cater for both traffic and pedestrians, so two more bridges were built – one either side – for use by walking locals.
This sounds like it might be impressive but the river is small and the bridges are flat so the resulting ‘architectural triumph’ can seem underwhelming. Traversed in a few seconds, despite being a local landmark, they’re a blink and you’ll miss it attraction.
However, they do mark an important division in Ljubljana; one side is the castle district, the other the new town and the Ribji trg square, which contains the city’s oldest building (built 1528) that once served as the home of the Slovenian Protestant Reformer, Primož Trubar.
Ljubljana Old Town
The river’s embankment is lined with bars and cafes popular with locals. There are also some excellent restaurants, which come alive in the evening, especially those backing onto the old town, an area that stretches up to the castle.
The winding streets are a joy to wander – an architectural melting pot of styles that abruptly ends sometime in the 19th Century. It’s an amazing time capsule that remains a working part of the city.
The castle is visible from pretty much everywhere in Ljubljana – its imposing position makes for an obvious location for fortification.
Originally built as a medieval fortress, its origins stretch back to the 11th century, although regular additions and reconstruction were carried on until the early 19th century.
As a result there’s lots of history to explore although some of the information on display could be a little more detailed.
Today the castle is used for cultural events and weddings. To reach its fortified walls you can either walk or travel on the funicular railway. The view from the castle is impressive – you get to look down on the city and across at the mountains.
Ljubljana’s top museums
It’s definitely worth a visit to the National Museum of Slovenia, the oldest in the country, founded in 1821.
It contains a applied art created in Slovenian inhabited areas dating back to the 14th century. Meanwhile, over in the Slovene Ethnographic Museum, is the world’s oldest musical instrument, a 60,000-year-old Neanderthal flute.
And for those of you that fancy something a little more modern there’s the Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova (MSUM). The building is great – its contents less so, in my opinion. However, the area around it is full of clubs that host regular gigs from internationally famous musicians.
The Metelkova complex grew up around abandoned barracks. It was squatted by 200 volunteers in 1993 who didn’t want the buildings pulled down. Their concerted efforts gave rise to the cultural diversity seen today. It’s popular with students…
Ljubljana – perfect for a weekend escape
Ljubljana is an ideal location for a three-day break. It’s not expensive, the restaurants and bars are excellent, there’s plenty of cultural activity and there’s a castle. What more could you want?
This is a guest post by Anthony Clark, journalist, copywriter and longtime friend of the Ladies What Travel team. He loves beer, cheese and travel and is a genius when it comes to making the most of his annual leave.