Ljubljana: The City of Bridges, Dragons and Medievel Charm.

We have spent the last three days exploring Slovenia’s lovely capital city, Ljubljana. As an Irish person living in Seattle, my name (Niamh) is usually the source of an eyebrow raise when I first meet a new person. It was kind of nice to be on the other side of the coin when we got here: our first task was to figure out the pronunciation of the city we had landed in. Lyou- blee- anna! (*I think!). Try saying that five times out loud, fast! Here are some of the highlights of our Ljubljana trip:

Take It To The Bridge!

The Ljubljanica River runs through the city, and one of it’s most impressive features is the many bridges connecting one side of the city to the other. Downtown is fully pedestrianized and it’s really easy to stroll leisurely the short distance from one beautiful bridge to the other.

There’s The Dragon Bridge with four dragons perched on either end…

…..and lover’s bridge, reminiscent of the lock bridge in Paris. It’s also known as Butcher’s Bridge……

(Ro took her first family photo and didn’t do a bad job at all:)

……and The Triple Bridge. This is three bridges side by side designed by the genius architect Joze Plecnik. He is hailed as somewhat of a Slovenian hero, being credited for designing a lot of Vienna, Belgrade and Prague. His masterpiece is Ljubljana.

My favorite is Cobbler’s Bridge, another Plecnik masterpiece. During the Middle Ages 16 shoemakers worked and lived on the bridge. Now there is a sole cobbler occupying a building in the vicinity.

After exploring the many bridges of this Medieval city, it was time for ice cream in Preseren Square. The ice creams were devoured quickly, as there was a man in the square with a giant bubble device and the kids were dying to get in on the action.

Cool little outdoor cafes litter the streets adding a modern vibe to this ancient European city.

The Outdoor Market.

Central Market is Ljubljana’s large outdoor market. It has close to a hundred stalls and sells everything from fresh fruit and veg, to clothes, to art. Wyatt and the kids tried some of the fried cheese at one of the multiple food trucks. It was so- so.

A Scenic Boat Trip

After exploring from above, it seemed like a no brainer to take a boat ride and see the city from below on the river. It did not disappoint and was a lovely way to spend a morning.

The Ljubljana Castle.

Castles, castles everywhere! You can see Ljubljana Castle perched atop the city no matter where you are in downtown Ljubljana. It watches you with a protective eye. We took the funicular up and soaked in the views from the top.

Actually the best thing about this castle was completely unexpected! There is a museum of puppetry tucked away in a corner of the castle which is very creepy (from an adult point of view) and interactive….and the kids LOVED it!!

There is also a Slovenian Museum of history which I learned a ton from. I had no idea that Slovenia gained its independence from Yugoslavia through a referendum in 1991, followed by a ten day war. As that was only 27 years ago, there are many people here that lived through Slovenia going from a socialist country to a democracratic one.

Metelkova.

Ok…..this one was kind of weird if I’m being honest. Metelkova City was formerly the Slovenian army barracks headquarters of the Yugoslav National Army. After the 1991 declaration of independence in Slovenia, a bunch of artistic squatters took it over and now Metelkova is an autonomous part of the city. A cool concept, but going there with the four and six year old did not feel the most comfortable. There was some amazing art and graffiti in this cultural center though, and I’m glad we took a few minutes to quietly and quickly pass through.

Tivoli Park.

This one was by far the kid’s favorite. This is a huge park with a bunch of hiking trails, fish ponds, a swimming pool, a bowling alley and of course, a playground!

But the absolute highlight of Tivoli Park was the tiny theme park called Lumpi where no helmets, and no strapping in was needed for either the race cars or the bubble ball. It was awesome!

Art and Grafitti

This city has a lot of artistic vision. You turn down an alleyway and come face to face with a cool statue or wall of colorful graffiti. It works, especially on the overlay of the rich history of this city.

Thanks for everything Ljubljana. It’s been a real treat! Tomorrow we are taking in a castle in a cave!!