Sunday, 24 August 2014

10 Ljubljana landmarks

Earlier this month, I headed to Slovenia for a short break.

Although the main focus for the visit was celebrating turning another year older, in Bled, we couldn't miss an opportunity for a day in the capital, Ljubljana.

In my previous post, Ljubljana, Slovenia - the city in a day, I shared my thoughts on this beautiful Eastern European city, so as a follow up, here is a quick run down of the main landmarks, and a few photos from my trip.

As the old town is prohibited to cars, exploring the area is not only easy, but you can take photographs without modern, and often unsightly, vehicles in all the shots; this certainly made a big difference to me.

Look... Crocs!
1. Castle - the most visited sight in the city

I don't think it is as special as other castles I have visited in Eastern Europe, but it's definitely worth a look.

Castle view

Head up there via the walking trail, or pay the small fee for the funicular. Be warned; the trails coming down can be a little slippery from the gravel (or in winter... Ice!).

Note that you can purchase a combined ticket for the funicular and castle. However, tickets to the castle merely permit you access to the tower and the special exhibitions. The courtyard and main areas are accessible for free, and I could not see any significant benefit to paying the extra just to go up the tower, as the exhibitions didn't look particularly interesting. Take a look at the website for more details.

2.  Prešernov Trg - the circular main city square

This is a great spot to take it all in, hang out, and listen to the busking bands.

Often the location for festivals, Ljubljana carnival and concerts, it all happens here thoroughout the year.

Keep an eye out for the bronze statue of the Slovene national poet, France Prešeren with his muse. There are a number of interesting stories associated with this, with both a romantic and controversial twist.

3. Franciscan church - which resides on Prešernov square

You can't miss it, it's the PINK church of baroque style, and is the meeting point for the start of the free walking tour running everyday at 11am and 3pm, and so gets busy around those times.

Free walking tour start point

4. The Triple bridge - crosses from Prešernov square

The bridge connects the modern city with the old town. Interestingly, the central bridge is limestone, whilst the two footbridges are actually concrete. You can, of course, wander across all three, as the area has been pedestrianised since 2007.

View from triple bridge

Wander across to the tourist info centre, pick up a map and find out about current events and activities.

5. The Butchers bridge

Recognisable by the scattered lovers locks and the glass flooring. The latter is covered during the winter due to safety concerns.

Very romantic

The name is relevant to the butchers stalls that were a planned extension from the market.

You can catch a boat from here which takes you along the river.

6. The Central market

This is the place to find fresh produce and local favourites, so go early to experience the crowds and get the best pickings of the fresh goods.

Friday's open kitchen

On Fridays, between March and October, the market incorporates an area with freshly cooked foods from around the world with its 'open kitchen'. A great place for a lunchtime snack or feast at a fraction of the price of eating in a restaurant.

Mmmmm... Lunch!

7. The Shoemakers bridge

Currently undergoing repairs, but still showing its distinctive six pairs of pillars. Nearby are a good variety of restaurants and coffee shops. If you have been to Croatia, you will be excited to know that some of the ice cream stalls in this area have 'extra dark' ice cream with a slight Slovenian twist, but still amazing.

Restaurants nearby.

8. Dragon bridge

The final bridge to mention, and the most well known. The Dragon bridge has four dragon statues, and these are of course the icons of the city. I was surprised to see how small they were, as the postcards often make them look significantly larger.

Ljubljana's iconic dragon bridge

9. The Cathedral

An easily recognizable landmark of the city with its green dome and twin towers.

It is beautiful inside but often closed. There was a wedding going on whilst we were there, so we took a peak.

The distinct doors were only added in 1996. The main door depicts Slovene history and the side door is decorated with portraits of the 20th-century bishops of Ljubljana. 

Not often open

10. Independence square

The location of many moments in Slovenian history. There is a nice park area which is somewhat shaded by trees. Close by is the main building of the Ljubljana university, and a number of other important buildings.

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The best way to learn more about these Ljubljana landmarks is to take a FREE tour with Ljubljana free walking tours or alternatively explore on your own.

Don't waste money on a guidebook. Instead I challenge you to give wikivoyage a try with the Ljubljana page here.

Or download an up to date "In your Pocket" guide here for current events and more.