Ljubljana, the unknown capital

Slovenia gained independence in 1991, but its capital, Ljubljana, remains a mystery to most. In some ways, the city is reminiscent of Amsterdam – the peace and quiet, the canals, the cyclists – but it's also like a miniature Prague, with elegant buildings lining the banks of the River Ljubljanica, and examples of Central European modernism sitting comfortably alongside classical architecture. You might compare Ljubljana to the cultured Austrian cities of Graz and Salzburg, or perhaps its youthful atmosphere will remind you of one of the many European university cities. The truth is that this boutique capital city is a small gem where life runs a peaceful course among fine monuments – note the castle and the medieval churches – elegant bridges linking the two river banks, sheltered squares and small streets that are home to pleasant cafes, bars and neat shops.

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Elegant architecture on the banks of the Ljubljanica
The elegant architecture of the city rises on either side of the River Ljubljanica / © www.slovenia.info photo: Dunja Wedam 

Cycling around Ljubljana
The city of Ljubljana is practically flat which makes it easy to get around by bike / © www.slovenia.info photo: Dunja Wedam 

Walking by the River Ljubljanica
The river banks are a popular place to take a stroll / © www.slovenia.info photo: Dunja Wedam 

Concert in Preseren Square
Concert in Preseren Square / © www.slovenia.info photo: Dunja Wedam 

Street parade through Ljubljana
Ljubljana is a university city and the country's main academic centre: every day, cultural activities take place, including processions and outdoor events / © www.slovenia.info photo : Dunja Wedam 

Market on the river bank
Market on the banks of the River Ljubljanica / © www.slovenia.info photo : Dunja Wedam 

Ljubljana Summer Festival
Throughout the year there are a range of cultural events and activities in the Slovenian capital, the highlight being the International Summer Festival / © www.slovenia.info photo: Dunja Wedam 

The town of Kamnik, just outside Ljubljana / © www.slovenia.info photo: Matej Vranic 

Dragon Bridge, Ljubljana
The Dragon Bridge, built between 1900 and 1901, when the city was still part of the Austro-Hungarian empire  / © www.slovenia.info photo: B. Bajlelj 

Ljubljana Castle
Ljubljana Castle / © www.slovenia.info photo: D. Mladenovic 

Ljubljana old quarter
The old quarter seen from the castle / © www.slovenia.info