Finally, if you didn't know, Melania Trump is from Ljubljana. Here, half the people like her, and half don't. Nothing has changed!
What We Will Cover:
When we expressed our amazement at Slovenia, the most common response was, "What?" We asked the same question of ourselves in planning the trip. We were going to be in Venice with family, and we knew we were going to be overwhelmed with tourists. We wanted to continue to Florence after Venice. Still, We decided that we did not want to join the masses of tourists that throng the Italian Trifecta of tourist destinations (Venice-Florence-Rome) in the middle of a hot summer.We were pleased to discover that Ljubljana, Slovenia was close to Venice within easy driving distance.
Slovenia is a small little country wedged in the hollow in between northeastern Italy and Croatia. Austria and Hungary hover to its north, and the south is Slovenia's tiny shoreline on the Adriatic Sea and western part of Croatia and its coastline.Croatia is the latest beach destination for Europeans, and also a popular cruise stop. Croatia has more than a 3000 miles coastline, including 1200 islands and islets strewn on its southeastern coast on the Adriatic (also called Dalmatian Coast).
Slovenes are considered South Slavs, which describe most of the peoples of the countries on the Adriatic coast from Slovenia to Bulgaria. South Slavs comprise 80% of the population, with 20 percent of Austrians, Italians, and Hungarians. It has a unique culture positioned between Slavic, Latin (Roman), and Germanic cultures. The language is Slovene, but Italian and Hungarian are co-official languages. Because of its proximity to Italy, there will be a mixture of Latin and Slavic influences in language and culture.
In general, Slovenia's history aligns itself with the neighboring powers, notably the Habsburg Dynasty of Austria and Hungary. Like many parts of Europe, Celtics were early dwellers in Slovenia, followed by the Roman Empire. First Slavic settlements appeared in around the 6th century, followed by Magyars (Hungary) in the 10th century. The Magyars passed on its rule to the Habsburg Dynasty starting in the late 13th century until 1918. It became a single kingdom of Slovenes under the Habsburg in 1848.After the dismantling of the Habsburg Empire following WWI, Slovenia declared independence, joining with Croatia and Serbia to become the Kingdom of Croatia, Serbia, and Slovenia (later renamed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia). During WWII, Italy, Hungary, and Germany divided Slovenia. After Germany's defeat, it became part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, a federation of six republics, namely Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia.
You won't find the grand, historical monuments and buildings as you would find in other Eastern European capitals of Prague or Budapest. Ljubljana suffered a massive earthquake in 1895, which destroyed most of the city.Ljubljana is in the middle of the country. Ljubljanica River, the city's namesake, runs through the town. The river served as Slovenia's main trading route going back to Roman times. Today, the river and its bridges are one of Ljubljana's key tourist attractions in Old Town.
You will be spending much of your time in the attractive Old Town Square (Preseren Square), where architect Joze Plecnik left his mark. You will be looking up or taking a funicular to see the Ljubljana Castle.Converted to event space, you will not find historical elements. But you will enjoy lovely views of Ljubljana and surroundings!
The Triple Bridge is a unique and iconic sight of downtown Ljubljana. The bridge and many buildings in historical districts are triumphs of Joze Plecnik. They are Venetian-like bridges across the Ljubljanica River. The middle deck is the original bridge built in 1842 named after Archduke Franz Karl of Austria.
Old Town Square is the focal point in Ljubljana. It is a very picturesque area where you will see the recognizable attractions of the pink Franciscan Church, the Preseren Monument, and the Triple Bridge.The square started as a road junction in front of the city gates in the 1200s. The same intersection turned into a square in the middle of the 19th century. It features the statue of France Perseren (1800-1849), one of Slovenia's well-loved romantic poets.
The church is hard to miss with its pink Baroque facade. It is the parish church of Ljubljana. Its color is symbolic of the Franciscan monastic order. A 1648-1660 construction, the church featured frescoes, which were, unfortunately, damaged by the earthquake of 1895. New murals replaced the previous one in 1936.
Standing on Castle Hill for about 900 years above the city is Ljubljana Castle. The first castle was a wooden one built around the 11th century. It became and remained a military installation (arsenal, prison) through the early 19th century. The Municipality of Ljubljana purchased the castle in 1905, turning it to a form of public housing.Later in the 1930s, Joze Plecnik took the remains of the castle and re-designed it. In the 1990s, it became event space and restaurants. A funicular was built in 2006 to serve the facility.
St. Nicholas Cathedral is the Cathedral of Ljubljana. It is an 18th-century Baroque church with a dome and twin towers. The site of the Cathedral goes back to 1262 as a site of a Romanic church. The churches burnt down twice and finally rebuilt as a Baroque church in the 1700s. The domes became a feature in 1842.
Lake Bled is one of the most beautiful lakes and sights you will ever see. Imagine cobalt blue waters with a tear-drop islet in the middle of the lake. You will also see a medieval castle, Bled Castle, perched on top of a high natural cliff. You can ride the traditional pletna boats to the island to see a museum, and the Baroque Church of the Assumption and make a wish at the wishing well in the 15th-century belfry tower.Today, Lake Bled is a holiday resort with private accommodations, campsites, and restaurants. Thermal waters used for patients going back to the 19th century still exist in the Toplice Hotel's current site.
About an hour outside of Ljubljana is the town of Postojna, where you will see the most profound and most significant cave system in all of Europe. An early tourist attraction going back to the 1800s, the Skocjan and Postojna Caves are now World Heritage Sites.
The Postojna Cave is a horizontal cave that made it possible to build an underground train system. On the original 1872 tracks were two carriages, carrying four passengers pulled by tour guides around the cave.Today, the battery-operated underground trains take tourists two miles into the deep cavern on a circular track.
The Predjama Castle is a fascinating cave castle perched on the side of a 400-foot precipice. Lord of the castle was Erasmus of Lueg, who, in the 15th century, had a reputation of being a robber baron (stole from the Habsburg). He was e caught after a long siege after being betrayed by one of his subjects.The current castle is the 1570 Renaissance version after being rebuilt twice due to fire and earthquake. It has remained in this form up to the present day. After WWII, it became the property of the Yugoslavia Communist party, nationalized and turned into a museum.