Saturday, February 22, 2014

#710 Ljubljana, Slovenia

Slovenia's capital city on its namesake river is so charming a place that the citizens felt they had to hang wires with shoes on them to make it less perfect, or so one legend goes (although I can't find an online source telling me this). Near Shoemaker's bridge (Cobbler's Bridge), and in other places across the city, people have thrown shoes over wires to remember loved ones, to remember famous people, to get good luck, or perhaps this relatively new phenomenon (10-15 years or so) is just for the tourists. This link has a charming story of the first person to hang their shoes (and the luck they received afterwards). So, after you've admired the shoes and the various art installations around the city, and taken a stroll along the riverside past the cafes, restaurants and gelaterias, you can enjoy the rest that the city has to offer. 
Once known in German as Laibach, there is some discussion about the origins of the current name (see wikipedia). Ljub means 'love' but Ljubovid means 'one of a kind appearance', so who really knows? The settlement of the area is without question however, with remnants dating back to the Prehistoric pile settlements, and stretching through the Romans (when it was settlement Iulia Aemona), sacked by the Huns, Ostrogoths and Lombards, before the ancestors of the Slovenes arrived in the 9th Century. The Franks, the Slavs, the Bohemians, Napoleon and later the Hapsburg-Austrians all controlled the area. Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor exiled the Jews in 1515 for a fee, Bishop Tomaz Hren scared the protestants away in the mid 1500s and otherwise it has been predominantly catholic since its diocese was established in 1461. Joining the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, Slovenes after world war I and Italian then German occupied in world war II, Slovenia joined Communist Yugoslavia until its independence in 1991. 
Famous for its bridges and beautiful squares, the downtown heart of the city is quaint and cobble-stoned. Small barges ferry down the river with restaurants moored in certain spots along the banks. 
This statue stares out from a house near the middle of the city, and it is said that she is watching for her love, who is a statue on the other side of the square.
The dragon as a symbol of Ljubljana could have two possible origins. Perhaps Greek legends of Jason and the Argonauts having struck down a monster somewhere in this area is the cause, or perhaps it is connected to Saint George, patron of the Ljubljana Castle?
In the middle of the city is the castle, from which there are beautiful views across the city, with the spires of churches poking through above the red roofs. 
Inside Ljubljana castle.
The coolest door to a cathedral that I've ever seen. Don't look if ghosts scare you because these bishops are emerging from the door!

Source: - An excellent photo essay!
Padlocks for lovers on Butcher's Bridge.

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