A City that Demands to be Read
Ljubljana has a 5,000-year-long and fascinating history. For you to understand the local spirit, France Preseren, Slovene's most famous poet, wrote, "A true Slovenian must raise a child, write a book and plant a tree." The country prides itself on values, education and growth.
At its heart, Ljubljana is a university town, creating a youthful, active and cultural environment. There are plenty of cafes, bars, parks and museums – even a railway museum. As the industrial revolution rolled through America and Western Europe, Ljubljana didn't want to wait for modernity – or a spanking-new rail station. The first train arrived in Ljubljana in 1849 from Vienna. Today, with a Eurail Slovenia Pass, it's still the easiest way to get around the country. You can also arrive directly from other cultural capitals: Zurich, Vienna, Zagreb and Budapest. In addition, there is direct service to Prague that operates during the summer months.
From any vantage point in the city you can see the Ljubljana Castle. Dating from the 12 th century, the castle has seen its share of controversy. After it was no longer the home of a ruler or nobleman, it became clear that a fortification in the area was no longer required. The castle eventually fell into decay and even served as a prison. In 1905, the castle was bought by the Ljubljana Municipality, and in the mid 1960s, the long and extensive renovations began. Today, the castle is used for weddings and other cultural events. You can enter the castle for free and admire the view from the top.
You may also see the Dragon Bridge over the Ljubljanica River. Considered one of the finest examples in the Vienna Secession style and for good reason; it was built in 1900 when the city was part of Austria-Hungary. Some residents nicknamed the bridge "mother-in-law" in reference to the fearsome dragons on its four corners. Why dragons? There's a legend that Jason, famous for leading the quest for the Golden Fleece, was the founder of Ljubljana, and he and his Argonauts killed one of the dragons.
If the weather isn't cooperating, go to the city within the city: The Little City of Big Shopping, or BTC as it's known. With over 500,000 square-meters of indoor fun, it may just be the biggest shopping and amusement center in all of Europe. This former warehouse lodges more than 400 shops, 30 restaurants, a multiplex, and other sports and entertainment venues. Plus! Atlantis, one of the biggest indoor water parks in Europe. Over 18 million people come to this little city each year.
So what are you waiting for? Ljubljana is no longer becoming a great city to visit. It's already there. This is a special year for the city, too. UNESCO has designated Ljubljana the prestigious "World Book Capital" title for 2010. Come to Slovenia and create a book of memories to take home. Maybe find romance at the castle and even plant a tree. And just maybe, discover the spirit of being a Slovene.
Contributed by: Melanie, Marketing Project Manager, French American with Swedish and Italian origins, who comes from the Entertainment business and truly believes that traveling by train is the best entertainment experience ever!