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Raise Your Hand if You can Spell, Pronounce or Find Ljubljana

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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 ©


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About the author

Amanda Summer is a writer and archaeologist who excavates in Greece. She has written for the New York Times, Islands, Archaeology and The Best Travel Writing. When not digging, she lives in St. Louis, Missouri, with her family and Airedale terrier. For more stories, visit her website, Travels with Persephone.

12 thoughts on “Raise Your Hand if You can Spell, Pronounce or Find Ljubljana”

  1. He he – I can do all three! I spent two weeks in Slovenia and I loved the summer months in the capital city. Great photos, I haven’t seen the new bridge but I love that the locals have already started to put their mark in it!

  2. More and more people speak about Slovenia as the next big discovery in Europe (the last one being Croatia). Hurry and book something there before it’s spoiled!

    It really seems like a beautiful country. I think I might just add it to my next eurotrip!

  3. Very nice photos! I had no idea about Ljubljana either- looks like a wonderful city to visit & such a good location to tack onto a trip to Italy or Croatia – thanks for giving us more insight into the city & expect to be hearing much more about it!

  4. Amanda,
    Thank you so much for educating me about Slovenia! I wish there were a button on this post where I could hear you say the name of this city. I still don’t know how to pronounce it! But I am very intrigued after reading your story and I hope more people will like you make Slovenia their destination, rather than just passing through. 🙂

  5. You know I did peak my head into the gallery and was impressed. As far as the cafe, I stuck to the drinks and wifi! Ljubljana has to be the most manageable capital I have been to in Europe.

  6. Great post! I loved the photos.
    I see the locks on bridges all over eastern Europe. So cute, but think about how many keys must be in the water below. 🙂

  7. Amanda – Wonderful article and I would love to hear about the relatives you visited. In the photos I see so many young people and the city is such a mix of old and new. Must go there next time I am in Europe and hang a lock on the bridge, then keep the key so to return one day to remove the lock after my prayer words have blown in the wind.

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