Ljubljana – Capital of Slovenia

Map Courtesy of fotolip

I must confess that I had never heard of Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, until I decided to travel to Croatia and surrounding countries. Apparently there were many others who had experienced Ljubljana because it was named the “European Best Destination 2022.” *

The city has developed a reputation as one of the most environmentally-friendly, livable capital cities of Europe. “Old Town” restricts automobile traffic which encourages pedestrians and cyclists to stroll through the center square or along the banks of the Ljubljanica River.

Indicative of the character of the city, a statue of France Prešeren, Slovenia’s most famous romantic poet, sits in the market square.

Flowing into the heart of the city is the “serene” Ljubljanica River with its sculptured bridges, cafes, restaurants, Central Market and other gathering venues. There is a lengthy walkway for those who want a peaceful stroll while viewing historic architecture.

Experienced travelers know that a competition to host the best tribute to love by allowing “love locks” to be prominently displayed in public has developed among European cities and Slovenia is no exception. The Butcher’s Bridge serves as Ljubljana’s entry.

Walking along the Ljubljanica River path brings visitors to the interesting Dragon Bridge with beautiful large dragon statues at all corners of the structure.

Legend has it that Jason (of Jason and the Argonauts) was the founder of Ljubljana and during one of his exploits he slayed a dragon that was living in the marshlands near the Ljubljanica’s source. The dragon has become one of the symbols of Ljubljana.

Read more about the dragon connection HERE and HERE

Another interesting area to visit just a short walk southeast of the “three bridges”is the Town Hall Square with the interesting architecture of the Town Hall and Francesco Robba’s Narcissus Fountain.

Another of the main attractions is Ljubljana’s hillside castle.

One way to get to the hilltop fortress is to take the funicular…

and as we made our way to that transport, we passed the puppet theater with a most unusual drinking fountain for this location.

The Alfred N. drinking fountain designed by academy sculptor Mirko Bratuša is the author’s first public work [usually running during warm weather, but not this day]

The castle in its original form dates back to the twelfth century, but has undergone extensive renovations and modifications. It is now considered a “modern castle” which serves as a cultural hub for the city.

Visitor's entrance to the castle
Visitor’s entrance to the castle

Alert visitors may find another of Ljubljana’s dragons here as well.

Southeast view of the Pentagonal Tower at the Ljubljana castle in Slovenia

From the courtyard, the more contrasting “modern” structures can be seen. While the climb to the top of the Clock Tower is a bit steep, the panoramic view is worth the effort for those who are fit to undertake the task.

While making the “trek” enjoy the decorative spiral stairway.

Panoramic view of Ljubljana from the top of the Clock Tower

* https://www.visitljubljana.com/en/media/news/ljubljana-is-the-european-best-destination-2022


Next stop – castle, cave and cuisine!



See Previous Posts in this series:

Dubrovnik, Croatia – Pearl of the Adriatic

Old Town Dubrovnik – Above it all

Old Town Dubrovnik – The Low Down

Dubrovnik from the Adriatic and Mt. Srd

Montenegro & The Walled City of Kotor

Mostar – Bosnia and Herzegovina

Coastal City of Split, Croatia

Zagreb – Capital City of Croatia

Portugal – Alfama District, Lisbon Part 1

Breaking away from our routine of traveling to national parks in the United States, we decided to journey overseas with a noted tour company to see a part of the world in which we have been interested for a long time. So off it was to Portugal and Spain.

Map of Portugal with Lisbon noted

Map Via

We arrived in Lisbon relatively early in the day. After we checked in at our hotel, we were anxious to get out and about to visit some of the sights we researched. High on the list was the Alfama district in Lisbon.

One of Alfama’s distinctions is that it is the oldest neighborhood in Lisbon. It is located along the Tejo river and is very picturesque. The concierge at the hotel explained that we needed to take a taxi to the tram stop and then take the number 28 to Alfama.

Tram #28 headed to Alfama

The #28 tram’s route traverses the city’s center thus making it a very busy mode of transportation as tourists use this to arrive at many of Lisbon’s popular attractions. It is less expensive than a tour bus, but there is no guide to point out the sights. We had to be careful as there were two different #28 trams. We determined we needed the one with the destination noted as Prazeres.

You can read more about it HERE

This popular tram usually operates from 7AM until 11PM daily. Check out the current schedules to be sure.

NOTE – Pickpockets often frequent this tram so be careful and keep your valuables close. We had no problems at all (besides the usual language barrier).

Little did we understand that the tram was going to drop us off quite a distance from the main section of Alfama and that we also needed to board a small van to take us to Alfama’s central location; no extra charge. Streets are so narrow in places that cars cannot navigate them. Bicycles and smaller motorized transports are plentiful on these narrow side streets.

As we were walking to board the jitney, we passed a trash can that was quite unique. We didn’t realize that this was customary in Portugal and Spain. Trash/recycle receptacles are sometimes painted and serve as a work of contemporary art. The city sponsors some to the container art. Apparently a number of other European cities have adopted this colorful method of camouflaging these streetside bins.

Art covered trash=recycle bins

We managed to find our way to the small van and disembarked near the Miradouro das Portas do Sol (Viewpoint of the Doors of the Sun) which is a large terraced area with an elevated point of view looking over Alfama. The first thing visitors are going to notice is the famous red roofs. This is Alfama’s trademark!

Landmark red roofs of Alfama seen from Miradouro das Portas do Sol

In the picture above, the river is barely visible, but some of the prominent buildings can be clearly seen. The large building in the upper left (with the two towers) is the Church or Monastery of São Vicente de Fora which Wikipedia translates as “Monastery of St. Vincent .” Just off to the the right of the Monastery is the dome of the National Pantheon.

Saint Vincent is Lisbon’s patron saint and a statue to honor him stands as a sentinel at the Portas del Sol close to where most visitors will arrive at one point or another during their explorations. There are several vendors and street merchants at this location trying to capitalize on the crowds that often gather in this area.

Statue of Lisbon's patron saint, Saint Vincent

Here is another photograph of Alfama taken from the Miradouro de Santa Luzia which is another great viewing area. The Tejo river is located along the horizon. More central with a single tower visible is the iglesia de Santo Estevao (Church of St. Stephen).

Another view of the port of Alfama seen from Miradouro de Santa Luzia

As we began to make our way through the old streets of Alfama on the way to the Thieve’s Market, we passed by ancient structures. Here is a crossover near the Campo de Santa Clara (market square).

crossover near the Campo de Santa Clara (market square)

The Thieves Market is similar to flea markets around the world. It is only open on Tuesday and Saturdays in the square near the Panteão Nacional and São Vicente de Fora dating back to the late 1880’s.

Vendors at the Thieves Market in Alfama

There was a large variety of goods for sale including books, crafts and other typical flea market wares.

Wheelbarrow with dishes for sale

Continue reading about our trip to Portugal and Spain.


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