On day 1 of 20 Days through the Balkans Adventure, we woke up in what can only be described as a real life fairy tale city. Nestled in Eastern Europe, Ljubljana (pronounced LOO-blee-yana) is the capital of Slovenia and the hidden gem you have been searching for. Not only does the name translate into beloved, it also rhymes with my mama's name, Ljuba. ツ
At night, the city turns into a big soirée and promenade as lovers take to the streets while musicians play at Prešeren Square. As we strolled hand in hand down the narrow streets of cobbles upon cobbles of wonderful distractions, we stopped to enjoy live Opera at one of the local parks and gobbled up nutella gelato at Cacao. Everything about the city oozed romance to us.
Ljubljana's Landmarks: The Triple Bridge...
Ljubljana is filled with iconic landmarks, one of them being the Triple Bridge (Tromostovje). As the name says, the original stone bridge was designed in 1842 and instead of destroying it to make room for more pedestrian traffic, two more bridges were added in 1932 by Slovenia’s very own renowned architect Jože Plečnik.
...Castles & Dragons & Oh, My! ♕
The second city landmark is the very prominent city castle (Ljubljanski Grad) perched a top the leafy hilltop. A steep pathway leads to the castle from the dragon bridge and needless to say, we decided to forgo the funicular, which whisks visitors effortlessly to the top and instead decided to walk there. The main reason to visit the castle is the same reason it was built there...for the breathtaking view! What we didn't know was that this was going to be one of the many steep (and at times terrifying) climbs we would do over the course of our trip for that million dollar view. The views from the castle tower provide a panoramic look of Ljubljana’s colorful rooftops, the Apls on the horizon and town squares. The castle is lit with green lights after dark in honor of being named the Green Capital of Europe.
The third iconic landmark and symbol of the city are dragons, which are posted to watch over the Dragon Bridge (Zmajski Most) and the city (more dragon & GoT references to come!). The dragons represent power, courage and greatness. Interesting fact: the dragon has been the symbol of Ljubljana for centuries, ever since Jason (no not my fiancé, but of Argonauts and Golden Fleece fame) supposedly slew one somewhere nearby.
Named for the actual cobblers (shoemakers) who set up shop along the river in olden times.
The Fairest of them All...
Ljubljana's First Skyscraper
The Skyscraper (Nebotičnik), a 1933 Art Deco building was the first skyscraper in Slovenia, and for a time the tallest building in Central Europe, and clearly, one of the earliest European buildings influenced by American architecture. The top of the building is home to a restaurant, café, and an observation deck, offering the best views of Ljubljana’s evergrowing skyline. We ended our stay in Ljubljana on the terrace taking in last views of the city with big happy hearts and celebratory engagement kavas.
Images by Jasna Hadzic & Jason Stanek.