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Welcome to Ljubljana, a city no-one can pronounce in a country no-one can find on a map.
This capital city sits centrally in the former Yugoslav republic of Slovenia. Bordered by Italy to the west, Austria to the north and Hungary to the east, this stunning country is often bypassed by travelers heading south to the largest country on its border, Croatia, on the way to Split, Dubrovnic, and the Dalmatian coast.
They are missing a lot.
Ljubljana, which straddles the Ljubljanica River, is a jewel. An initial glance reveals a sophisticated, urban landscape with ancient roots, but look deeper and you’ll find it fueled by a youthful population intent on transforming the city of their parents into a thriving alternative culture scene.
Not far from the train station, a group of young entrepreneurs have renovated a former prison into an art gallery and hip youth hostel known as Celica. In 1993, a group of 80 Slovene and international artists protected the building from demolition with their own bodies, transforming a space that was at one time used to confine, into an open arena where creative ideas are now exchanged.
The central market – a colorful mecca of fruits, vegetables and unique leather goods – wraps around a building designed by the Slovene architect, Joze Plecnik, where Ljubljanites can regularly be overhead saying, “Let’s meet by the river!”
Everywhere you look, you’ll find a sophisticated city that mixes the best of the old world….
….with the new.
With chestnuts in season, a perfect way to end the day is with a slice of chestnut torte. Pair it with a cappuccino, take a seat at a sidewalk cafe, and savor the eclectic beauty of this uniquely European, yet little-known city that is just waiting to be discovered.
* all photographs by Amanda Summer ©