“ City: Ljubljana / Country: Slovenia / World Region: Europe „
However much of a linguistic cliché this might be (the word Ljubljana is very close to the word for love in many Slavic languages), Ljubljana is lovely indeed. A city on a human scale, at about 300,000 inhabitants and with the role of the country capital, it is large enough to offer all the advantages of city life without producing an overwhelming monster.
But it's not just the handy size and civilised, educated, friendly, youthful inhabitants (the tourist information claims that 20% of the population are students) that make Ljubljana so attractive. It has funky bars and fancy restaurants, it has thriving culture with active theatre, art and music scenes. It is also, rather simply, a beautiful place to behold: a compact, largely pedestrianised old centre with distinctly Central European architecture spreads on the banks of slowly meandering, green river spanned by several bridges and dominated by the steep hill with a castle at the top. Ljubljana charms with its pretty Baroque and Art Nouveaux architecture, attractive parks and lively riverside promenades.
It's a Sunday when we first venture out to explore Ljubljana, so the city is quiet. Slovenia is largely Catholic, and we can hear ringing bells and locals on the way to church among the tourists. We approach the old town via Miklosiceva Cesta, adorned with some attractive Art Nouveaux buildings, including one decorated with striking, colourful geometric patterns.
Pink walls and flowing, sensuous lines of the Franciscan Church dominate the Presernov Trg (Preseren Square), named after France Preseren, Slovene 19th century national bard. His statue stands in the centre of the square, reminding me of Polish statues of romantic poets and composers. The square opens onto the Triple Bridge, an unusual construction whose name is self-explanatory, but whose existence requires explanation: why build three bridges within metres of each other?
The goal was clearly aesthetic. Architect Joze Plecnik left his mark all over Ljubljana and it was his idea to add the extra bridges to the original one in 1931 to achieve this landmark feature.
The Three Bridges lead to the other side of Ljubljanica river and we turn left along the riverside promenade, walking along craft stalls and bric a brac tables in the Plecnik's colonnade, adjacent to Plecnik's covered market, an imposing and a bit austere but strangely attractive structure facing the river.
To our left rise the white towers and green domes of the baroque cathedral of St Nicholas whose ornate interior we glance at but not explore as a service is about to start. We walk towards the bridge guarded by imposing dragons (dragon is something of a Ljubljana mascot) but instead of crossing back to the other side we turn left towards the castle hill, attempting to locate the bottom station of the funicular. Somehow we manage to miss it altogether and end up climbing all the way up: it's steep but shaded and despite huffing and puffing even I manage to drag myself up, prompted by glimpses of city views from between the leaves and branches of the wooded hill. We arrive at the back of the castle but the walk to the gate is on level ground and we are rewarded by fantastic views of Ljubljana itself, its surrounding green hills and high peaks of the Julian Alps on the horizon.
The castle is less of a consistently attractive historical structure kept as a monument and more of a public space defined by the castle ramparts, towers and dungeons. A family ticket costs less than 5 Euro and allows admission to all parts , so we happily potter around the battlements, peek into a Renaissance underground chapel decorated with colourful (and, strangely for a religious structure, secular) frescoes and venture into a modern art gallery whose rather grim and brutally expressionist content seems at odds with the gentle beauty of the city. We also climb the strange double-spiral red stairs to the top of the clock tower: more huffing and puffing and even better views.
We leave the castle via the funicular: the station is in the basement of the castle and its access hall in the base of the castle incorporates chunks of natural rock the little one proceeds to climb with gusto despite all the other climbing he's done today.
The funicular is very steep, more of an outdoor glass lift than a tram with cogs and gears I expected. More views before we descend to Vodnikovy Trg, normally a site of a street market which doesn't function on Sundays to sit down to well earned late lunch. We tuck into rich game dishes at the outdoor tables of Vinoteka Sokol: there are roadworks directly in front of the restaurant and the tables have been relocated to Mestni Trg, next to the pretty Renaissance Town Hall and directly in front of Ljubljana's landmark baroque Robba fountain, on which three bearded figures represent three major rivers of Slovenia.
The children attempt to scale the high base and dive into the basin, so to avoid cracked bones we drag ourselves away from our beers and venture back towards the Triple Bridge.
High above our heads wooden easels with drawings and paintings swing gently, suspended from wires between the buildings: art is in the air of Ljubljana.
We walk along more picturesque streets to Tivoli gardens, the main large public park of Ljubljana. And underpass allows for safe crossing of a busy road and its walls are adorned with industrial-looking, rusting iron mesh. A closer look reveals patterns of tree trunks and branches created by different shades of brown and red. Is this a creative use of real rust? Or paint made to look like one? I am not sure but it works, a fusion of urban and bucolic, industrial and artistic that fits the location perfectly.
The concrete supports of the underpass have circular openings which have been lined with thick, warm blocks of solid wood and must exert a strong pull as the little one immediately climbs into one to lounge while a pair of snogging teenagers occupies the other.
The cultivated part of Tivoli contains an extensive playground where the children can be let loose for a while. It's still very hot, so the drinking fountain thoughtfully placed in the play park is a welcome blessing.
As the day draws towards the late afternoon, more families appear: it's clear that, not only architectonically but demographically too, Slovenia belongs firmly in Central Europe. The people could easily be Austrian, Czech or Polish - there is a sprinkling of natural blonde hair and even the tanned bodies don't reach the chocolate brown that we have seen frequently in Greece, Southern Italy or, more recently, Croatia.
Tivoli park contains several attractions including a stately home, a zoo, swimming pool and other sports facilities. Its further reaches stretch to nearby countryside and provide walking and cycling grounds for the locals and visitors. But the day is drawing to a close and we are tired with heat, walking and sightseeing so we schlep back with a beer-and-juice stop at an outdoor jazz cafe. We sip our drinks while the children discover and use two hammocks hanging among the trees. The stage is empty at this relatively early hour, but recorded music does the place's name justice, enveloping us in mellow sounds.
The next day most of the morning is taken by planning the next stage of our journey, but in the afternoon we go for a boat rip along Ljubljanica river. It's an hour-long ride abroad smallish tour-boat and our skipper-cum-guide points out interesting features of the architecture and shares informative facts about Ljubljana waterways in fluent German and English.
We go up the river first and within 15 minutes of the slow ride the urban landscape gives way to country cottages, high stone waterfront is replaced by reeds and weeping willows.
Ljubljana lies on Ljubljanica river which is connected by a canal to Sava, a tributary of Danube. This connection to both the Black Sea and the grand cities of former Austrian Empire reminds me again of how much geographical, historical and cultural influences combine in this place. Food and landscape, culture and peoples range from Slavic to Germanic, Balkan to Alpine, Mediterranean to Central European. Slovenia is a true crossroads.
I took my wife to Ljubljana in late October as a suprise birthday present. We flew on Easyjet from Stansted which cost only £140 for us both. On arrival, we found the airport to be modern and, as it was only small, easy to navigate. Buses and taxi's were plentiful and we caught a bus which took us into the city centre in about 40 minutes and cost about £5 each. As ljubljana is so small you can walk everywhere. Even when we went the sun was shining and it was comfortable to sit outside during the day. There is a main square in the centre of the city and from here you can follow a number of pleasant streets which spoke off. Alongside the square is the river which is travered by a strange "double bridge". Further along the river you will find a market, both of the fruit and veg kind and, as the weekend, the flea market type.
The "dragon bridge" is one of the recommended sights. This is a small, old bridge with 2 large dragons on either pillar. Worth a quick look but nothing special. We visited a couple of places. One of them was a beautiful cathedral which was very gothic and had some interesting carvings on the outside and particularly the large copper external doors. There is also a fun science museum where you can do various experiments and they do regular, small displays. Kids would be especially interested.
The tourist centre is very good and the staff were helpful. For shopping there are some quite expensive, upmarket shops but to be honest little else. Even the "tourist" shops are quite expensive. There is an out of town retail park if you're desperate and it is served by a couple of buses. The best site to see is the castle which overlooks the city. You can walk up or take the funicular. From here you get a great view of the city.
By night there are a number of clubs and bars which range in both age, type of music and price. We sampled most types and they were all great. There is also a "pub" called the Ship which is very good. Local beer is also good.
All in all we enjoyed the trip and the people were friendly. Worth a visit but I'd say only go for a long weekend because it's so small you'll run out of things to do if you stay longer.
Ljubljana is the capital city of Slovenia, which is the northernmost republic of what used to be Yugoslavia, sharing borders with Italy and Austria in the Alps, and Hungary to the east and Croatia to the South. Slovenia was one of the 10 countries which joined the European Union on 1 May 2004, and adopted the euro as its currency on 1 January 2007. Slovenia has taken over the rotating Presidency of the EU as of 1 January 2008, the first of the new Members States to have this role.
==== BRIEF POTTED HISTORY OF LJUBLJANA====
Mythology has it that Jason got lost on his way back on the Argo from hunting the Golden Fleece, and sailed up the Danube and its tributaries, ending up on the Ljubljanica river. Ending up in a swamp, the Argonauts had to disassemble the boat and carry it to the Adriatic. However, on this journey they encountered a dragon, which they killed. This dragon has been adopted as the symbol of the city.
The earliest settlement on the site was Roman, going by the name of Emona, however, the town was sacked by the Huns and disppeared off the map until the 12th century when it was known by its German name, Laibach (literally meaning tepid brook). As Laibach, it was part of the Hapsburg empire until Napoleon conquered it in 1809. Napoleon is remembered warmly since he allowed the Slovene language to be used for official purposes, and there is a memorial column to him near the university. Laibach reverted to Hapsburg rule after 1815, and played host to a congress in 1821 as part of the Concert of Europe, which discussed the settlement of post-Napoleonic Europe. The beautifully elegant and spacious Congress Square dates from then.
In 1895, there was a major earthquake which destroyed much of the city centre on the left bank of the Ljubljanica river. Much of the rebuilding was carried out under the oversight of Joze Plecnik, a locally born architect, who was also a major figure in architectural circles in Prague and Vienna in the first part of the last century, whose work inclued major renovations on Prague Castle. Then with the break up of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918, Slovenia became part of Yugoslavia, and Ljubljana became the capital of the newly independent republic of Slovenia in 1991.
==== MAIN THINGS TO SEE IN THE CENTRE =====
Although I've been to Ljubljana on three separate occasions, the visits were fleeting and I have only spent about a day here, so I can't claim to be an authority on the city. However, I have managed to explorer its compact centre pretty thoroughly, and so here are what I would recommend as some of the main attractions:
Triple Bridge (Tromostovje) - possibly the signature monument in Ljubljana, the white stone triple bridge started life as a single span bridge in the 1840s, before Plecnik added two spans in the 1930s, with staircases leading down to terraces at water level. The central span of the three is for road traffic, while the two either side are for pedestrians. At the end of the bridge on the castle hill side is the city's tourist information centre, while at the other is Preseren Square (see below).
Ljubljanica River and bridges - the river has been channelled through the city centre, with plenty of outdoor cafes and street artists giving the area a distinctly Bohemian feel, and creating much of the city's buzz. There are a series of bridges over the river quite close to each other. Downstream from the Triple Bridge is the Art Nouveau Dragon Bridge (Zmajski most), which appropriately has 4 dragons on pedestals, one at each corner. Upstream there is the Cobblers' Bridge (Cevljarski most), which is broad and balustraded, and has different sized pillars topped with stone balls, while two of the posts in the middle of the bridge are shorter, offset and often have with lanterns on the top. Guided boat-trips are available, and we were quoted a price of Euro10 per person. Some of those boats offered live jazz in the evening, as well as having a cash bar.
Preseren Square (Presernov trg) - France Preseren is the national poet of Slovenia, the words of one of his poems have been set to music as the country's national anthem. The square which bears his name is at he very heart of city life, being situated on the banks of the river, by the famous Triple Bridge. On it, stands the impressive 17th century Franciscan Church of the Assumption, with its baroque red facade. When we visited this summer, there was some street art, advertising very localised weather. It transpired this meant that water as showered from the overhead wires on unsuspecting visitors. A more permanent fixture is the 1:3000 scale model in brass of the city centre, which is a useful orientation aid for visitors. There is a similar one to this by lake Bled as well.
University library - this is one of the most striking of Plecnik's buildings, with orange and grey stone blocks making the façade.
Congress square ( Kongresni trg) - this part of the town was developed for the Congress of the Concert of Europe in 1821. Half of the centre of the square is given over to a park, where there were concerts during the time we were there. The other half is a car park, manned by the most efficient, courteous and friendly car parking attendants you could hope to meet. It only cost Euro1/hour, we said how many hours we thought we would be there and they assured us there was no problem to pay the difference if we came back later. The buildings around the square evoke the splendour of early 19th century central Europe, with the national Philharmonic building particularly fine.
Town Hall (Magistrat) - under the shadow of the hill, the town hall square sits half way along one of the main shopping street, with cobbles and exclusive designer shops. The facade of the town hall reflects Venetian influences in spite of several reconstructions. I particularly liked the clocks on the turrets, which reminded me a little of the Trumpton of my youth (showing my age here now). In the courtyard of the town hall is a particularly fine statue, the Fountain of the Three Carnolian Rivers dating from the mid-18th century by Francesco Robba.
Market - within spitting distance from the Triple Bridge, you will find noisy, bustling market in the mornings. Under the Plecnik colonnade by the river, there are tourist-type stalls the whole time as well. The locally crafted wooden objects were particularly interesting.
Cathedral (Church of St Nicholas) - Next to the market, and 200 metres from the town hall is Ljubljana cathedral, the current modern Baroque building dating from the early 18th century on the site of a much earlier church. Two new brass doors were installed for the occasion of the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1996. These doors have portraits of past popes, which the churchgoers have rubbed, so that they are now quite shiny in places.
Ljubljana castle is the prominent feature, perched on a hill high above the Ljubljanica river. There is plenty to see from the viewing tower, and this can be reached by a funicular railway.
==== FOOD AND DRINK =====
The open air bar on Preseren Square near the Triple Bridge is a great meeting place on summer evenings. When we were there, there were two guitarists playing great live music, adding to the vibrancy of the area.
The restaurant to which we were taken by our friends who live in Ljubljana was called Julia close to the town hall. We had an excellent 3 course dinner with drinks for Euro30 a head.
There are many bars and cafes, all very reasonably priced. Coffees and soft drinks should cost no more than Euro1.50. Local beers, such as Zlatorog (lager) and Crni Baron (dark beer) should not cost more than Euro2.50, even in the bar on Preseren Square. Our experience of Slovenia generally would lead me to say that you are likely to be able to find good, wholesome and reasonably priced food without too much difficulty, particularly when you consider that Ljubljana has a very large student population.
==== OVERALL ASSESSMENT ====
Ljubljana has a very compact city centre, with the river very much the heartbeat of it. Even though badly damaged by the earthquake in 1895, the period charm of the Hapsburg empire is complemented by the originality of Plecnik. There is a vibrancy to the city, but the atmosphere is very gentle and laid back. Ljubljana would make a very good destination for a weekend break, or as a base for exploring this beautiful country. We certainly intend to go back when we can.
==== GETTING THERE ====
Flights from London take just over 2 hours, with both Adria (the Slovenian national carrier), and EasyJet flying daily. Brnik airport is half an hour away by car.
There is a very good bus service in the city, and the Ljubljana card is worth considering, which offers not just cheaper, unlimited travel and free entry to museums and galleries, but comes with a guidebook and entitles you to discounts in hotels, restaurants and taxis.
Time zone: Central European Time, ie UK time +1 hour
Currency: The euro as of 1 January 2007
This also appears on ciao with photos
Ljubljana is a great place to visit if you are going for a long weekend. It is one of the smallest capital cities I have ever visited. It is however picturesque and has its own fair share of restaurants, and bars and clubs as well as many shops. It is a very interesting place with beautiful parks and avenues and the fantastic river running through the centre of the town. The architecture is also great.
If you visit Ljubljana do not be fooled into staying in an expensive five star hotel, I absolutely guarantee you will not find a better place to stay than the hotel Domina Grand Media. I can only describe it as fantastic. It is a four star hotel but I could not fault it in any way. The rooms are all equipped with huge flat screen TV's which have speakers going into the bathroom. The rooms are huge and very very comfortable. The bar is stunning and they have happy hour every day in a swish and sophisticated manner with lots of free canapes. The staff could not be friendlier and have a great sense of humour. Another real bonus about this hotel is its free to use wellbeing suite, it is out of this world with pools and lots of saunas and steam rooms. I would live in this hotel if I could I simply can not shout about it enough.The only problem with it is its location, it is situated about a mile outside the main town, but the hotel runs a free shuttle bus that goes every half hour - hour until late at night which works out fine, plus taxi's are easy to come across.
When visiting Ljubljana do not limit yourself to staying in the city, Slovenia has some fantastic sights surrounding its capital. I spent one day visiting Lake Bled by bus which is very cheap and easy to do, just visit the bus station and buy your ticket. Lake Bled is stunning, it is a picturesque large lake with a small island in the middle and large snow capped peaks lining around the lake in the distance. It is a very romantic location and it is cheap and a lot of fun to hire a boat from a man on the side of the lake and spend a couple of hours rowing and visiting the island in the centre.
Another lake that I havent visited but have heard is equally as good is Lake Bohinj(g). This is just as easy to get to. Slovenia also has a stunning set of caves with a castle carved into them. I didn't get to visit this, but would do if I want again.
If you do run out of things to do in Slovenia then just hop on the train and visit croatia. It is cheap and easy to get to so long as you have your passport with you. Just visit the train station which is opposite the bus station and buy your ticket. Many places in Esatern Europe are quite close together and are ideal to reach by train. The journey from Ljubljana to Croatia is no longer than a few hours and the sights are beautiful along the way.
It really is a small world. Flying to Slovenia, I sat beside a woman whose husband had been at school with one of my brothers, in Australia, fifteen years ago. Still, whilst it's a small world, some places are definitely smaller than others, and for a Capital City, Slovenia's Ljubljana is positively tiny.
ARRIVAL: We flew across central Europe on a frigidly cold December day. A plump blanket of cloud obscured everything beneath us until suddenly, somewhere over Austria, it ended abruptly and a row of jagged Alps stood gleaming in the sunshine. The plane was mainly full of Slovenians, returning from shopping jaunts to London. I'd watched them, almost pityingly, as they'd hauled down their Hamley's bags and touching little London mementoes from the luggage racks, to brighten, I conjectured, their bleak Slovenian Christmases More fool I! Later, as I found myself meandering amidst Ljubljana's lovely shops, filled with exquisite and hand-made treasures, I began to wonder why those tourists had even bothered to shop in London at all, with all of this on their doorsteps. And I discovered that in Slovenia, lazy misconceptions are dispelled thick and fast, like the tumbling of snow over a well-trodden bridge.
At its International Airport at Brnik, Slovenia begins for the visitor very much as it intends to carry on It is immaculate, efficient, and always determined to look its very best. We walked across from the terminal building to a sleek, new parking garage with all the usual car hire firms represented on its ground floor. The automatic doors whished back, revealing a warm but somewhat steely interior. The car-hire representatives behind their little booths, a Budget man in his pumpkin-orange T-shirt, an Avis girl in a pretty red suit, and so on, all looked up at once, and eyed us expectantly. My husband had booked in advance, however, so we marched straight across to the bumblebee-liveried Hertz desk. This, like the rest of the airport, felt a little like a forlorn and poorly-attended party the invites have been sent, the food prepared, the decorations strung up, but until now hardly anyone has bothered to turn up and make all the effort worthwhile.
I glanced through a complimentary Airport magazine from the counter, whilst my husband entered into a protracted and rather confusing discussion with the Hertz rep. The magazine opened with an introductory mission statement from the President of the Management Board of Aerodrom Ljubljana, a Mr. Vinko Moe, who is pictured with hands clasped, looking severe and unsmiling, beneath a garish work of Slovenian Modern Art. His statement was rather amusingly titled 'We Are Optimists Despite Everything'. Mr. Moe, we learn, hopes 'to make air traffic the goose which lays the golden eggs'. He then embarks upon an impassioned (and slightly indiscreet) tirade against the 'bureaucratic obstacles' and 'various issues lurking in a mountain of paper-work' which are compromising the Aerodrom Ljubljana's fragile hopes and dreams. Particular scorn is reserved for the overly stringent safety legislations of the EU All in all, this brief reads more like a manifesto or shareholders report than a welcome message to international visitors. Clearly, Slovenians are unused to tourism on a large scale, and they are (perhaps refreshingly) a little hesitant about how the whole business usually works. By way of illustration, whilst air-traffic is to be Slovenia's Golden Goose, tourist staples such as picture postcards are more like Hen's Teeth although not, I suspect, for very much longer.
THE CITY: A perfectly straight, fir-lined road lead away from the Aerodrom towards the City of Ljubljana. There was very little traffic. The snow, slightly ashen beneath that dusky, late-afternoon light, the tall barbed-wire fences demarcating the runway, and the occasional, indistinct figures walking large dogs along the edge of the forest, all combined to produce a rather romantic, behind-the-iron-curtain effect. After this, there is a short stretch of Autobahn, with an (inexpensive) toll half way along it, before you reach the outskirts of Ljubljana proper. These outskirts, unsurprisingly, are characterised by a number of tall, communist-era apartment blocks, some of which have been embellished, others not, but a proliferation of very snazzy, Western-European style advertising on almost every available surface works to disguise Slovenia's recent Socialist past very efficiently.
THE HOTEL: We stayed at the Park Hotel, which was easy to find and certainly central enough, located just on the fringe of the Medieval Old Town, a stone's throw from the Ljubljanica River. It struck me on arrival, to put it a little unkindly, as being little more than a tarted-up tower block. Closer inspection did not dispel this early impression, and any interior redecorations did not extend very far beyond the ground floor. The reception area, along with the hotel generally, was clean and orderly however. Beyond the desk stood a dejected, elderly man in a plaid shirt, who, by all appearances, might well have just returned from milking a cow. He demanded our passports, a little gruffly, and hobbled across to stow them in the little pigeonhole our keys had emerged from. There were two lifts, each of which stopped only on alternate floors. If human, these would probably have qualified for pensions by now, and they groaned a little alarmingly on the ascent. Still, we managed to find our room, which, being on the seventh floor, boasted very good views across the turrets and rooftops of the Old Town and the castle on the hill overlooking the city, which was lit up in a spectacular shade of blue. There was an apartment building immediately opposite, and we could see a man stretching and doing his evening exercises in one of the flats, and through another window, further down, an old woman appeared to be plucking the feathers off a chicken. The hotel room itself was very basic, but a reasonable size and spotlessly clean. My only real criticism would have been of the flooring, a succession of bleakly grey laminated tiles that extended throughout the building, creating a rather cold and dingy impression, especially on a frosty, sub-zero degree day.
CHRISTMAS MARKET: Leaving the hotel, we wandered off into the night, crossed a road, and followed a brief, cobbled stairway that lead down towards the river. Snow was falling gently over the cobbles. Seeing a number of lights flickering prettily on the opposite bank, we continued along towards them, crossing the river at the Gryphon's bridge. This takes its name from the Ljubljana dragon, the city's emblem, which also appears on its coat of arms. Local legend has it that the original dragon was slain by Jason (of Argonaut fame). Having stolen the mythological fleece, Jason and his companions had hastened away up the Danube and Ljubljanica rivers, pursued by King Aetes, finally pausing at the lake near to the Ljubljanica's source, where the dragon resided. There they lay in wait, before killing the Gryphon when he emerged. Whatever the truth, it's a pretty enough story, and the bridge's collection of green-bronze dragons, large and small, are very charming indeed. We continued on, crossing the abandoned market square, with its stalls shut up for the evening, and edging up along the esplanade towards the Christmas market. This was a collection of diverse and beautifully lit stalls extending along several blocks, at one point reaching across over a bridge and spreading along the opposite bank. The snowy air was warm with the scent of mulled wine and roasting chestnuts. Small children in knitted pixie-hats carried little candle-lit lanterns. A large troupe in Father Christmas costumes danced an energetic jig to the accompaniment of a string quartet. Stallholders sold cakes, chunks of fruit that had been skewered and dunked into hot, molten chocolate, pretzels, exquisite homemade candles, woven baskets and furniture, and all manner of things fashioned from wood, from rocking horses and sleighs to bowls and wooden shoes. Ribbons and mistletoe were strung festively from eaves and cornices. It was one of the most splendid and evocative Christmas markets I've ever seen. The tree, which stood in front of the Neo-Renaissance palace on Preseren Square, was nothing short of spectacular. Further along, winding, cobbled streets and mysterious archways disappeared off in all directions. The overall effect is very reminiscent of Prague, although obviously on a much smaller scale. As alluded to earlier, the shops in the old town are superb, with both well-known international as well as more eclectic, Slovenian stores represented. I even noticed a Lush store there. We passed several galleries, including one with an exhibition of 'Living Machines' that really was very ingeniously executed. Tiny, beetle-like contraptions were wired up to small solar panels and suspended from trees. Overhead lamps, irregularly lit, caused these 'beetles' to twitch and move as their solar panels responded to the light. We continued on, passing, and occasionally entering, a succession of attractive little bars and cafes
PIZZA: Finally, finding ourselves hungry, exhausted and above all extremely cold, we retired to an Italian place to eat. There seemed to be a large number of Italian restaurants in Ljubljana, which was unsurprising, really, given the proximity to the Italian border. Anyway, the Italian place in this instance was Foculus, on Gregorciceva St, a popular and dimly lit little pizzeria. It has to be said that the menu at Foculus resembled a short novel, and would have left even the most comprehensive of Chinese menus feeling inadequately short. It extended over many, many pages and consisted primarily of about 80-100 different types of Pizza, although many of these, admittedly, were merely subtle variations on a theme. Pizzas came in three sizes; small, medium and large, which might more accurately have been described as huge, massive, and quite-frankly-too-big-for-the-table. A family of four at the table beside us had ordered the latter and their determined struggle to finish it all off was almost painful to behold. We, in turn, ate as much as we could, and left feeling uncomfortably full, having been relived of less than 5,000 Tolars (about £12) for the privilege. Drinks included. Although many things in Slovenia cost as much as or even more than they would elsewhere in Europe, the restaurants certainly seem to be very cheap. Wearily, we returned to the hotel along snow-lined streets, pausing in the hotel's downstairs bar for a nightcap. The bar was clean & bright and decorated in what would probably be best described as Ikea-chic. The hotel waiter, who was clearly a jack-of-all-trades, and very possibly a master of none, was in any event a priceless character. He flounced about dramatically, dashing from the adjacent dining room to the bar and back again, muttering bitter asides to himself, and launching into flamboyant monologues in response to perfectly innocent questions. I asked for a diet coke, to which he responded that they had none, only the ordinary kind, and besides this is Slovenia & as Slovenians say, it is all the "same s**t" anyway and no-one sensible ought to drink it he was only really appeased when I finally relented and ordered an unwanted beer, instead. Glutton for punishment that I am, I went on to ask whether Slovenians tended to speak English as a second language, or German, which elicited a fierce "I don't like Germans!" followed by great deal of tutting and miscellaneous contortions of the facial muscles. He sneered and swooned at us by turns as he popped in and out of the bar, no doubt (correctly) supposing that we were talking about him, until we left to go upstairs.
FINALLY: The following morning, I awoke early with a view to climbing up to the castle and exploring the indoor markets. We intended to leave for Austria before lunch, to be on the slopes by the afternoon, so I didn't have much time. It was still dark when I got outside, and bitterly cold. I retraced our steps from the night before, following the little path down towards the river. At the market square, various stallholders were busy setting up and arranging their wares. There were broad bands of bright colours, vibrant green strips of ordered apples, and brilliant swathes of oranges, clementines and pomegranates assembled in impossibly neat pyramids. All of the vegetables appeared very local, very organic and very fresh. The carrots and parsnips were pale and reassuringly misshapen. Dark, blood red beets were dusted with the faintest trace of dirt, as though unearthed that very morning. Great basketfuls of lush lambs-ear lettuce and raddichio stood to the side. Shelled walnuts and sugared almonds were arranged in delectable abundance. I continued on into the indoor market, which was designed by the esteemed Slovenian architect, Joze Plecnic, and generally regarded as one of his finest works. There is a row of little delicatessens, bakeries, bars and cafes, with semi-circular windows on the riverside and colonnades on the street side. Opposite, there is a second indoor market, housing large, designated cheese and meat areas, and also including stalls with an array of local produce, such as pickles and preserves, as well as a superb little stall selling regional olive oils. There was an especially good Croatian oil amongst them. I spotted a tiny, crowded little bar to the side of the market, and decided to get a quick coffee. Inside, the air was thick with smoke, much of it emanating from fat cigars. A row of old men sat along the bar, drinking short spirits and coffee. I ordered an espresso, which was hot and delicious, and cost me just 150 Tolars - about 40p. I walked back out into the open market, the part that runs alongside the back of the church. People were selling beautiful, home made advent wreaths, fashioned from spruce and mistletoe, flowers, and luscious, buttery-yellow bees-wax candles. I glanced absently up at the clock tower and realised with a start that I had been gone for three hours. I returned to the hotel for breakfast, resigned to the fact that the castle, the view and much else besides would have to wait for another visit.
I was once fined $10 for jaywalking in Australia, which cured me of the vice for a time, and I never jaywalk when out with my little boy. Having said that, it seems practically de rigueur in much of Europe, and old habits die hard Slovenians, however, are clearly not a nation of jaywalkers. They wait patiently for the little pedestrian to turn green, even when there isn't a single car in sight. And quite a few of them looked rather askance at me, as I dashed across the road near the Gryphon's bridge, in my haste to get back to the hotel... Slovenians seem to be a very artistic people, and they are very physically attractive. However, they did strike me at times as a rather dour and even-tempered lot perhaps they are simply the type of people you need to get to know well, in order to understand them. In any event, I should like to return again in the Summer, and find out for myself not, I hasten to add, that I would ever need an excuse to return to the lovely city of Ljubljana!
My husband and I recently took a 2-night city break at the City Hotel, Ljubljana (May to be exact). Ljubljana for those you have never heard of it is the capital city of Slovenia, now in the EU. To be honest I was a little nervous about going, not too sure how eastern block it would be and concerned about what to expect by way of quality and standards. I was pleasantly surprised.
The town itself is not unlike some of the better known eastern block cities such as Prague but without all the tourists well not yet anyhow. There is a great range of small bars and cafes together with various alleyways containing quirky boutique style shops. If you like to mooch its a good city to be in. The people and atmosphere are friendly, a great place to relax in.They even have a castle which is well worth the visit for the spectacular views. Be prepared to climb though!
The City Hotel itself is a modern, bright hotel in a character building. It has every convenience I could require, sat t.v., internet connection, in-house bars, restaurants and cafes. For a short break it's location was great. You could walk to wherever you want to go in the city. I'd been prepared to have to take taxis, having stayed at Hotels before that claim to be 'centrally located' , but there is definitely no other way to describe the location of this hotel. I have to admit that we didn't make use of the in-house dining facilities, preferring to eat locally in town, but the menu was international and looked impressive. If breakfast was anything to go by however dining in house should be excellent. Breakfast was a sumptuous buffet which set you up for the day
Despite being city centre the traffic around the hotel wasn't too bad, certainly compared to city breaks in places like Rome! The parking around the hotel was a bit limited so if you choose to have a car be warned. If however you are there to see the city there is really no need for one. Transport connections to the airport are good. The staff were friendly and pleasant, the english good.
I consider the hotel very good value for money. I would warn however that it is worth shopping around for rates. Going to the hotel direct can save you up to 30 -50 .
I flew to Ljubljana with Easyjet from Stansted. But I believe you can also fly firect from Heathrow with British Airways. The Slovenian currency is the Tolar but be careful, you cannot exchange it outside Slovenia so dont change too much money at once. In truth there is not that much to spend it on outside of drinks and meals so keep this in mind when exchanging Euros or Sterling. I found that most restaurants accepted credit cards so I had little need for cash on a two night trip. There are Bureau de Change kiosks around the city as well as at the airport. They give quite good rates.
I almost don't want to tell anyone about Ljubljana. You see EasyJet now fly to the Slovene capital and that will no doubt mean many more people discovering this gem for themselves. The name Ljubljana almost matches the Slovene "ljubljena" which means "beloved" which I think is perfect for this city.
Ljubljana is the capital city of Slovenia, formerly part of Yugoslavia. Slovenia nestles snugly between Austria (to the north), Italy (to the south west), Croatia (to the south) and Hungary (to the east). It has a small stretch of coastline on the Adriatic which can be reached by ferry from the Italian port of Trieste. Please don't confuse Slovenia with Slovakia (the republic which, with the Czech Republic, made up the former Czechoslovakia) - George W Bush did and you don't want to look like him, do you? Slovenia gained independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 with relatively little fighting (only ten days and 66 deaths) but it has, like Croatia, always been one of the more outward looking of the Yugoslav Republics.
While it is a capital city, Ljubljana is small: it has a population of around 330,000 of which around 10% are students. This is definitely a factor in giving the city it's very youthful feel. Not only is Ljubljana the capital and largest city in Slovenia, it is really the only "city" in the country of any notable size. Maribor, in the north east of Slovenia, is known as the country's "second city" but with a population of just over 100,000 and taking into consideration the business and cultural activity it has, it does not really offer an alternative to Ljubljana.
Therefore, Ljubljana is the centre of cultural, business, political and financial activity in Slovenia. However, it still has the feel of a relaxed and happy city not the pressure and hustle of other capitals. I found Ljubljana to be afriendly and welcoming city which goes about it's business gently and without any rush.
Ljubljana is essentially a miniature Prague without the hordes of tourists and the brash commercialism that inevitably goes with destinations that have suddenly boomed. It has a small old town, a newer part with turn of the century and more modern architecture and to the north of the centre, the expanse of Bezigrad with it's tenement and high rise blocks. Despite these features, it is still an incredibly spacious city and one with plenty of green and open spaces.
The Ljubljanica flows through the city (one of three rivers to do so) but it is more of a canal as it winds through the city. There are a handful of pedestrian and road bridges spanning the river but the Shoemakers Bridge (named because of the shoemakers who used to work on the bridge in medieval times), the Dragon Bridge (decorated with hansdome green dragons, it is said that the dragons wag their tails whenever a virgin crosses the bridge) and the Triple Bridge (three zig-zagged paths crossing the river and beautifully lit at night) are the most memorable and the ones you're most likely to use crossing into and out of the old town. The river is a wonderful turquoise-green - very striking and looks great when lit at night. In the summer you can hire a gondola and it all looks very Venetian.
Ljubljana is the kind of city where you can walk and walk without feeling you need to actually visit attractions. The main street through the old town links Mestni trg and Stari trg (trg is the Slovene word for a square). The Magistrat (the town hall) and the Robba Fountain are to be found in Mestni trg: the fountain depicts three Tritons and is modelled on one in Rome, but here the three spouts represent the three rivers of Ljubljana. When we visited in February a glass cover had been put over the main body of the fountain but you can still see it and it is very beautiful. There has been talk of moving the fountain for it's protection but locals are fiercely against this proposal. As you walk towards Stari trg there are little alley ways leading off the street and in them you will find some lovely little shops selling everything you can think of - designer clothes and accessories, handmade chocolates, antique shops and a fantastic little shop which sells tonnes of "Hello Kitty" stuff.
There are also lots of bars/coffee shops along here and each has it's own individual decor and ambience. Cafe Antico is decorated with beautifully painted panels depicting cherubs and has gorgeous chandeliers while Nostalgija is more "retro-chic" and the customers are young and stylish.
When you reach Stari trg there is a road that curves up and is lined with antique shops. If you follow this road it leads to the castle (Ljubljanski Grad). The castle as it stands today dates from the 16th century but there were fortifications on the hill long before then; an earthquake in 1511 destroyed much of the previous incarnation (don't worry, earthquakes are not likely these days!).
As well as getting access to the castle, it's worth the climb to get a wonderful view of the city spread out before you. You can wander around the exterior of the castle as you wish without charge but I would recommend paying a couple of pounds to climb the top tower and again catch some wonderful views of the city. This price also amits you to the virtual museum which I strongly recommend. This takes place roughly every thirty minutes and you sit in a small auditorium. You are given a headset which the assistant programmes into your chosen language and a pair of very unflattering 3D specs. Set the tape going when the presentation begins and pop on the specs for a thoroughly informative history of the city from pre-Roman times until the present day.
If you have difficulties walking or simply don't fancy the climb on foot, there is a bus service from town which takes you up to the castle (more frequent during the weekends and summer months). The castle can be seen from most parts of the city and is very imposing, We were there over the Valentines Day weekend and the castle was bathed in red light on the 14th February - it was gorgeous!
If you do want to take in some museums there are plenty to choose from. The main museum area is situated to the north of Trg Republike (I thought that this square which contains the Parliament building - a rather ugly modern building - and a large congress and cultural centre, would be quite impressive but it's actually a big carpark which is merely enclosed by these buildings. There is the National Museum which seems to be akin to most national museums with sections covering history and natural history, a coin collection, a collection of various minerals and gems and a collection of Roman antiquities. This museum is open from 10.00am - 6.00pm, Tuesday to Sunday and admission costs 500 Tolar for adults, 300 Tolar for children. (for currency information please see "Practicalities" at end of article).
The Neboticnik (Skyscraper) is a well-known landmark in Ljubljana although westerners will no doubt think it hardly worth the description. It was built in 1933 and was at the time very tall. However these days it is rather neglected and much less impressive. I believe there is a cafe at the top of the building but it has of late been closed. If you are interested it may be worth trying on the off-chance that it has re-opened. So long as you don't bother the people who live in the apartments in the building you can go in and climb the stairs.
The National Gallery (on Cankarjeva cesta) offers a mixed bag of works including portraits and landscapes from the 1600s to the 1800s, some Gothic stautes and a fair selection of work by Slovene artists. There is a newer wing which houses temporary exhibitions and a permanent collection of works by European artists. The National Gallery is open from 10.00am - 6.00pm, Tuesday to Sunday. Admission is as the National Museum but there is no charge on Saturdays.
Close by is the Museum of Modern Art which features mainly Slovene artists and some temporary exhibitions. It has the same opening hours as the National Gallery.
Close to the musuems, a subway under the busy ringroad takes you into Tivoli Park - the city's pleasure gardens. You walk up an imposing promenade (designed by Joze Plecnik - an architect responsible for much of the way the newer part of the city looks) into the park. The park contains the Zoological Gardens, Tivoli Castle (not so much a castle as a grand pink house with a white pillared portico) lots of sign-posted walks (including Roznik Hill - 394 metres high, you often see walkers in all the gear with their walking poles in the park) and Tivoli Hall which is a concert venue. There is also an recreation centre which houses a bowling alley, tennis courts, a fitness centre and a roller rink (which is an ice rink in winter) and Zlati Klub - this has saunas, an indoor swimming pool, a steam room, hot and cold plunge pools and a small outdoor pool where nude sunbathing is permitted in summer - it has high walls surrounding it so you won't be spied on by non-bathers!) (Zlati Klub is open daily but check for opening times which can vary according to season).
Ljubljana is just the right size to navigate on foot. There is an excellent bus network across the city and the whole country if you should need it but in the city itself you're unlikely to need to use public transport. The main bus station is situated right next to the train station just to the north of the main centre. There is an information office at the station and in the concourse beneath the train station, there is an internet cafe.
I mentioned the bars briefly before but I really should expand. In typical continental style, most bars are of the "cafe bar" type which means that you can just as easily order a coffee as a beer - no-one minds at all, even in the evenings. Many are tiny but even the larger ones tend to be staffed by just one person who manages to have a calm aura while serving, taking payment, washing glasses, making espressos and wiping down tables. Service is nearly always at your table and is always prompt and friendly. There are a couple of bars which deserve particular mention
- Casa del Papas - this place is a Spanish restaurant downstairs and a fantastic tapas bar upstairs (although you can just go in for a drink) which has been styled to look like the sort of place Ernest Hemingway would have frequented in Key West. (Hence the name - Hemingway was known in Havana as Papa). There are loads of photographs of Hemingway on the walls and the furniture is a mix of colonnial rattan and animal print cushions. Fishing nets and barrels hang from the rafters. Casa del Papas is situated on Celovska (on the right hand side as you come out of the city centre and about 5 minutes after you pass the Union Brewery).
- The Che Bar - this bar is hidden away between the blocks of flats in the Bezigrad area to the north of the railway station. Che Guevara is my hero and my boyfriend, who arrived in the city a few days before me, found this place in a tourist information leaflet and brought me here on Valentine's Day. The door bears the design of the Cuban flag and inside this tiny bar it is crammed from floor to ceiling with framed portraits of Che as well as statues, t-shirts, postcards and even an apron! You can buy Che t-shirts and calendars and in one corner there is a small section dedicatd to the former Yugoslav leader Marshall Tito. This place is my favourite bar in the city and, while it might not appeal to evveryone, I would recommend a visit just for sheer kitsch appeal if nothing else.
The Skeleton Bar - is in the basement in a narrow alley in the old town just next to the Shoemakers Bridge. It is decorated with skulls and skeletons (including a male and female skeleton inside a lit glass cabinet who dance every so often). (there're not real skeletons!!). It's very dark and eerie inside but the staff are friendly and welcoming - be sure to say hi to Zija, he's great!. The toilets are situated behind a mock bookcase, in true haunted house fashion the doorway is revealed when you push the small bone on the frame!
Eating in Ljubljana is a real treat. Not only are even the top end of the market establishments alot cheaper than you would expect of a capital city but there is a wide variety of cuisines on offer. You really should try some traditional Slovene food - they are especially fond of game and I would also recommend that you sample the buckwheat pancakes - these are basically a big ravioli which contains a cream cheese mixture. For a really good Slovene meal in typical surroundings, try Vinoteka Sokol (situated opposite the cathedral). This is modelled on a traditional Slovene "gostilna" (a kind of restaurant/inn) and plays traditional Slovene folk music in the background as you eat. For two courses and drinks we paid less than thirty pounds (this comprised an octopus salad, beef carpaccio, a fish dish and the "game plate" which included two venison steaks and a wild boar steak, as well as drinks, so very good value).
Elsewhere the city can boast a fantastic sushi restaurant (again very reasonably priced and the green tea tirmisu is to die for!), several Mexican restaurants (seems to be very popular here) and a couple of French restaurants. There are plenty of pizza joints and you should never find it a struggle to get something to eat.
A typical snack food is the burek, a pastry filled with either cheese, meat or fruit and sweet cheese. These are normally bought from a fast food kiosk and either eaten on the go or standing at a small counter beside the kiosk.
The most common beers are Union, brewed here in Ljubljana and Lasko, brewed in the south of the country. The vast Union brewery is situated close to the city centre and you can go on an orgainsed tour if that's your kind of thing. There are a number of locals spirits based on a kind of schnapps and varieties include those flavoured with pears, plums and other fruits.
Accommodation is slowly improving. If you are on a budget there is not much in the way of hostels outside the summer months but if you do visit at this time the university halls of residence become temporary hostels from around June until the end of August. My boyfriend spent the first part of his stay in the Turist Hotel which was formerly a state-run hotel but has now been refurbished and improved. Prices here range from 16,000 - 18,000 Tolar for a double room but prices vary for all sorts of different reasons so check with the hotel. When I arrived, we moved to a small "apartment" (a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen), situated close to the city centre) for the very reasonable price of 9,000 Tolar per night (and even got one night free because we were going to spend it in the mountains and the guy was keen for us to rent it when we got back) which is much cheaper than the hotels. Hotels range from the pretty grim to the rather plush and very pricey so it's best to do some research. You can get lists of private accommodation from the tourist information office.
Ljubljana has embraced western values unreservedly. Even in the Communist days Slovenia and Croatia both earned most of their money from tourism so the customer service tends to be of a high standard and the shops are of a comparable standard to those in western Europe. In fact, in the city centre lots of the well-known international designers are represented and you might even think, walking down some streets, that you were in Milan or Paris when you look at the brand names. In actual fat, ordinary Slovenes earn comparatively little. On a Saturday night in the capital it was relatively quiet. This is because most people who work in the capital live someway outside it where it is much cheaper. Therefore the city centre is frequented mainly by students or tourists.
I was surprised that in the capital there wasn't really much to spend my money on other than meals and drinks, maybe the odd pound or so admission fee here and there. However one Sunday mornings from 8.00am there is a great flea market alongside the river on the south side. I bought an old red star badge for just a couple of pounds but there's also jewellery, paintings, old coins, furniture, glassware, military caps and helmets, lighting, bakelite telephones and all kinds of other bric-a-brac. definitely worth a walk round.
Sundays in Ljubljana are a dream - getting up early to stroll around the flea market, then a coffee to warm up (maybe even have something alcoholic at the same time to really warm up), a walk along the river to Krakovo (a lovely suburb on the south of the Ljubljanica which was once the place where artists used to live, try and see this area for the lovely, brightly coloured two storey artists' cottages), and then a stroll up to Tivoli, stopping off every so often to have another drink!
I think that this city would appeal to anyone who has been to places like Vienna or Prague and wished that they had not become quite so busy and commercialised. No doubt this will happen once the budget airlines start flying in lots more tourists but for now I am please to have been while Ljubljana is still relatively undiscovered.
The Slovenes are an outward looking people who welcome visitors and, while I like the fact that I know of few people who have been, I hope more will make the effort to see this wonderful city.
I first travelled to Ljubljana via Trieste in Italy with Ryannair and then travelled by train to Ljubljana ( a three hour journey from Trieste to Ljubljana). British Airways fly direct to Ljubljana from Heathrow and Easy Jet fly from London Stanstead to Ljubljana
You can also fly with Ryannair to Klagenfurt in Austria and then travel by bus or train to Ljubljana.
The currency is the Slovenian Tolar: it is not fully convertible so you can not exchange it outside of Slovenia. Be aware that you can only cash travellers cheques at a bank (NO htoels offer this service). Banks tend to open from 8.00am until 5.00pm weekdays and then from 9.00am - 12.00pm on Saturdays. If you arrive when there are no banks open remember to have some cash on you to change into the local currency. There are bureaux de change at the airport in Ljubljana and at the bus and train stations as well as others dotted around town. Even some of the private exchanges offer quite good rates - you are less likely to be ripped off than in some cities.
There are, at the moment, between 340 - 350 Tolar to the Pound.
Most restaurants accept credit cards and if you are really stuck try the ATM at the larger banks, you should be able to withdraw local currency from these thanks to the new international banking agreements.
Hands up anyone who knows where Ljubljana is? I admit, I had never heard of the place until I bought my Rough Guide to Europe a few months before my Interrailing trip. But it sounded nice, and was off the beaten track without being too far east, so we decided to go there. Let's start with the train station. After some of the places we'd seen in Slovakia and Hungary, the sight of this beautifully clean, bright station was so refreshing. Joy of all joys, it had cash machines! And the international bookings desk had multilingual signs. And what was very strange, as we discovered over the next few days, was that the trains appeared to run approximately on time, from the right platforms. Bargain. If you are a backpacker, or indeed if you are anyone in your right mind, stay in the hostel called 'Dijaski Dom Tabor'. It's very close to the station (less than ten minutes' walk) and well signposted all the way- just take the furthest left of the streets opposite the station exit and look for blue signs. The only real differences between this place and a thirty- or forty-quid-a-night hotel are the lack of frills like tv and kettle, the fact that the showers and toilets are communal, and the price! It cost us around £7.50 each a night for a gorgeous room (cleaned every day!) and breakfast. They have internet access too, which is handy. There's supposedly a curfew but it is strictly ignored! The city itself is surprisingly small for a capital city, but its beauty makes up for it. The streets are narrow and winding and full of fashion boutiques, cafes and bars, and Italian restaurants. The best part is the castle, which is on a hill in the centre. Several streets lead up to it and on a hot day it's quite hard work, but well worth it. For about a two pounds (half for students) you can climb the tower which is scary for those of us that don't agree with heights, but a definite must. The view is astoun
ding. Ljubljana is so clean-looking, so beautiful and surrounded on all sides by spectacular mountains. There are several churches and interesting buildings to look at in the city, as well as an old monastery that has been converted into a venue for open air concerts. My boyfriend went to a rock concert and said it was wonderful. Finally if you're staying in Ljubljana, don't miss the opportunity to visit Postojna, about forty-five minutes away by train. They have a spectacular cave system which it is quite cheap to visit, although the tours are a little overcrowded. My general conclusion of Ljubljana is that it is the nicest city I have ever visited. I was worried it would be rather run-down, but it was very clean, Western without being over-commercialised, largely free from tourists, and full of unimaginably friendly people.
Slovenia is one of the nicest cities in Europe. The capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana is exciting and full of helpful and friendly people. Slovenia also boast of beautiful caves full of stalagtite and stalagmite. It is interesting to walk around these caves, looking at structures that resembles the Leaning Tower of Pisa, animal shapes and etc... You'll be able to marvel at the wonders of the universe. There are two very popular caves in Slovenia, one is called Postojna and the other Skojcan. Postoljna is nearer to Ljubljana and is easily accessible by public transport. Trains have also been built leading into the tunnel so that visitors doesn't have have to walk very far to explore the caves.
"Ljubljana is the capital and largest city in Slovenia. The city of Ljubljana is the cultural, scientific, economic, political and administrative center of Slovenia. It is situated in central Slovenia, between the Alps and the Mediterranean. The city is divided into several quarters, formerly municipalities, the main ones being ika, Beigrad, Vič, Moste, and Center, which also correspond to the main electoral constituencies of the city. Its transport connections, concentration of industry, scientific and research institutions and industrial tradition underlie its leading economic position. Ljubljana is the seat of the central government, administrative bodies and all government ministries. It is also the seat of Parliament and the Office of the President of Slovenia."