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Tourism to the Slovenian capital has been strongly on the rise in recent years. Not surprising, because Ljubljana is also called 'the little Prague'. And indeed, the city resembles the larger Czech capital somewhat, but at the same time Ljubljana has a very own character, where you might think you are in Vienna or Amsterdam for a second.
The cityscape is dominated by Ljubljanski Grad, the castle hill. In the eleventh century there was only a wooden watchtower which was replaced by a fortress in the thirteenth century. In later centuries parts were added. Residents of Ljubljana like to flare along the remains of the fortifications on the castle hill in the evening. Its function as a walking promenade was an idea of architect Jože Plečnik. He also designed the Three Bridges (Tromostovje) connecting the Prešeren square to the old city. The middle bridge is for motorized traffic, the two bridges along side of it for pedestrians. Another beautiful bridge in the city is the Shoe Makers Bridge (Čevljarski Most). Allegedly it used to be called the Butchers Bridge, but the stench was so overwhelming that the butchers were paid to leave and shoemakers took their place.
The Prešeren Square is the heart of Ljubljana. The largely car-free square is not very old, it was built in the nineteenth century, right in front of the old city gate. There are many cafes and terraces during the summer. Have a look at the Jugendstil Houses around the square with the most beautiful example the Urbanc Building. The oldest warehouse of Slovenia, Centromerkur, is housed inside it. Upon entry, the monumental staircase to the upper stairs stands out. Furthermore, the square is dominated by the Franciscan monastery with the largest statue of Maria in Ljubljana in the front facade of the church. The interior of the church is decorated with beautiful frescoes. There is a monumental main altar too.
In the old city, at the foot of the castle hill, lie three city squares: Mestni trg, Stari trg and Gornji trg. You can imagine yourself back in the medievals here. The most popular bars, cafes and restaurants of the city are located at or around these squares. On the Mestni Square stands a fine example of Slovenian baroque, the Robba Fountain.
The history of Ljubljana is uncovered in the Mestni Muzej (City Museum). It is housed in the Palace of Auersperg, a family who played an important role in the city for centuries. The museum includes remains of an ancient Roman road. More history can be found in the Narodni Muzej (National Museum) with sculptures and tools from the Bronze Age, medieval harnesses and even an Egyptian mummy. Housed in the same building is the Natural History Museum. Of a completely different nature is the nearby Moderna Galerija, with avant-garde art of Slovenian artists.
Ljubljana too has a church dedicated to the patron saint of sailors. The Saint Nicholas Cathedral was built at the beginning of the eighteenth century and has two beautiful bronze doors, which incidentally have been made much more recently. They were made in honor of the pope visit in 1996. One door tells the history of the diocese Ljubljana, the other is devoted to 1250 years of Christianity in Slovenia.
About an hours drive towards the northwest lies the beautiful glacier lake Bled, surrounded by pine trees and mountain peaks. You can make nice walks, ride a horse or rent a boat to sail on the lake.There is a church on an island in that lake., but the most impressive is the over a thousand year old Bled Castle, which sits high on a rock and looks over the water.
West of Ljubljana lies the historic town of Škofja Loka. A sign with an English explanation of the function or history hangs near many buildings. Inside the castle museum is an interesting exhibition about the city's history.
Ljubljana is not a big city and although traffic is getting busier, you can usually easily find a free parking space. However, parking time in the center of the city is usually limited to two hours. If you wish to park for longer it is better to park your rental car in a parking garage, but the rates are on the high side.
Jože Pučnik Airport, Ljubljana airport, is 26 kilometers north of the city center. Slovenians refer to it as the Brnik airport, after its geographical location. The airport is easily accessible with a rental car using the A2 motorway. The exit to the airport is clearly signposted.