The capital and main city of Slovenia
, located on the Ljubljanica
river in the center of the country. The city's name is almost the Slovene
word for beloved
, "ljubljena", and is pronounced, roughly, "lyoo-blyah-nah". The city is known as Laibach
in German. With some 280,000 residents, the city is the largest in Slovenia and the country's main economic
Ljubljana was founded during Roman times as the town of Emona. It became the capital of the province of Carniola during the 13th century, and came under Habsburg rule in 1335. The importance of the town in Slovenia grew, and Ljubljana even served as the captial of the entire province of Illyria from 1809 to 1813. Habsburg rule ended with World War I and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, after which Slovenia joined the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. After World War II Ljubljana served again as capital of the Slovene republic in Yugoslavia, and finally as capital of the Slovene nation following independence in 1991.
Ljubljana is a very calm and relaxed city, despite its capital status. Much of the central old town area is made of small pedestrianized streets. The city is dominated by Ljubljana Castle, high on the hill in the center of town, which is illuminated in cycling colors at night. Outside of the beautiful old town are not terribly large areas of unusually less-than-heinous apartment building examples of Socialist architecture, and some suburban areas. Other than the hill the castle sits on, the city lies in a mostly flat valley.
Most of the city was destroyed in the 1895 earthquake, after which it was rebuilt, much in the Art Nouveau style. Architect Joze Plecnik led the rebuilding design, and his many works in the city are well renowned, especially the famed Triple Bridge in the center of town. The old town is full of beautiful buildings, cafés, small parks, a walk along the river, and a huge number of shops in this young capitalist state.
A visitor to this town would be best advised to go to the castle for a great view of the red tile roofs and the Julian Alps in the distance, then to descend into the old town and simply wander, dropping into the various churches and the beautiful and ornate cathedral. After this, there are a large number of museums to visit, and Tivoli park in the northwest of the city offers bowling, swimming, rollerskating, tennis, and large amonts of greenspace.
The city is home to Ljubljana University, the largest in Slovenia, with 25,000 students.
A green dragon is the symbol of the city, and can be seen in small bronze and copper statues throughout.