Whereas on a bus you view the surface world as if it had been a caged animal, on a motorbike you’re one with the place, feeling the beat of the town as purely as your individual coronary heart.
Earlier than visiting Ljubljana — the capital of Slovenia — I wasn’t fairly positive what to anticipate.
Hell, I didn’t even know the way to correctly say the identify, which to my American eyes seemed like a cat had walked throughout my keyboard each time I typed it.
I knew a bit about Slovenia’s incorporation into Yugoslavia, however as for Ljubljana itself, I used to be at a loss.
Getting out of the Metropolis Heart with Watermelon Ljubljana Bike Excursions
A morning biking with Tevz of Watermelon Ljubljana Bike Excursions opened my eyes to what I didn’t perceive (whereas additionally serving to me burn off all that apple strudel that’s so scrumptious over there).
The tour — which rapidly turned among the best bike excursions I’d ever carried out — started within the Metropolis Heart, a pedestrian-only zone stuffed with cobbled streets, historic church buildings, a fortress, and a cafe-lined river, the place I discovered about Ljubljana’s city planning, the essential people that helped form the town and among the Tevz’ favourite ingesting spots (fortunate Europeans and their lack of open container legal guidelines).
What I beloved much more than this was that Tevz took me outdoors of the Heart, exhibiting me locations I by no means would have recognized to enterprise by myself.
From various cultural hubs to historic ruins to small farming cities, there was lots we uncovered in simply two hours — though there’s a longer 3.5-4 hour tour, for individuals who need extra.
Mainly, I discovered lots.
And whereas I gained’t reveal each single element of the tour right here — you’ll must take it for your self — listed here are six of essentially the most fascinating Ljubljana classes I left the bike tour with:
Prešeren’s Sq. (by way of Jessie Festa) and a closeup of the Prešeren Statue (by way of Sébastien Bertrand/flickr)
Desk of Contents
- 1. France Prešeren Was An Vital Poet With A Topless Muse
- 2. With Tragedy Typically Comes Renewal
- 3. It’s Potential To Reside In A Sauerkraut Barrel
- 4. Ljubljana Is Residence To Historic Pyramids
- 5. You Don’t Want To Be Wealthy To Begin Your Personal Metropolis
- 6. The Ljubljanica Is Extra Than Simply A Cafe-Lined River, It’s A Treasure Trove
- Bonus Slovenia Journey Information Sources
1. France Prešeren Was An Vital Poet With A Topless Muse
On the tour, I discovered lots about France Prešeren (1800-1949), one among Ljubljana’s most well-known romantic poets and the creator of the Nationwide Anthem — though he didn’t stay to see this occur. In the principle metropolis sq., known as Prešeren Sq., you’ll see buskers, locals assembly up, the waterfront and the pink Franciscan Church of the Annunciation. Oh, and a really provocative statue — not less than it was erected. That includes Prešeren under a topless lady symbolizing a no identify muse, it’s stated the timber in entrance of the church had been put there to dam worshipers’ views of the determine’s stone breasts.
Says Tevz, “The Slovenian nationwide holiday-cultural day is February eighth, additionally known as Prešeren’s Day. It’s humorous that this date is the day he died and never his birthday. Prešeren’s statue was positioned on the principle sq. in 1905, with many disputes — particularly from the Catholic aspect of view.”
Towards the tip of the bike tour we study much more about Prešeren’s muses at St. John the Baptist Church (aka Trnovo Church) within the Trnovo District close to Trnovo Bridge, with a plaque devoted to the poet on the facade. It sits right here as that is the very place Prešeren first noticed his muse, Julija, from afar, by no means truly attending to know her however lusting after her nonetheless.
2. With Tragedy Typically Comes Renewal
Whereas biking, it’s exhausting to understand the structure and aesthetics of the town. Coming from Brooklyn the place biking means buses are generally two centimeters out of your physique and open automotive doorways can imply damaged faces, I respect the extensive open streets and squares, car-less Metropolis Heart, and slower tempo, with individuals seeming to stroll in line with the light river.
“When it comes to Ljubljana’s urbanism, there was an important occasion in 1895: Large Easter Earthquake,” says Tevz. “It reached so far as Vienna and had greater than 100 aftershocks within the subsequent days. Round 10% of the town’s buildings had been destroyed. In a means it made a clean canvas to rebuild Ljubljana right into a extra fashionable metropolis, not wanting like an enormous village anymore.”
Tevz reveals me the various squares of the Ljubljana, which fascinating had been traditionally used as parking tons till the current mayor banned automobiles from the Heart. Every has its personal fascinating historical past and tradition, like Congress Sq. (Kongresni trg) — the place main metropolis occasions happen — and its adjoining Star Park (Park Zvezda), the streets assembly the inexperienced area and fanning out to appear to be a star.
Probably the most lovely constructing in sight is undoubtedly the Ljubljana College Administration Constructing — after we got here to it I’d truly requested Tevz if it was a palace — which stands by itself, as in Slovenia college lessons and buildings are scattered across the metropolis as an alternative of on a campus. It’s exhausting for me to image what that might be like, coming from the State College of Albany in New York the place the campus was like its personal metropolis, however I’d think about it solely provides to the social atmosphere of Ljubljana.
There’s additionally New Sq. (Novi Trg) which, regardless of its identify and title as the town’s youngest sq., continues to be fairly previous at 500+ years. This was additionally as soon as a car parking zone, and at present presents beautiful river views to 1 aspect and a wonderful vista of the Nationwide College Library (generally known as NUK), which architect Jože Plečnik constructed utilizing constructing supplies from the earlier constructing that had been destroyed in an earthquake. This tactic was each environment friendly and budget-friendly.
The constructing is difficult to not miss, impressed by the Italian palazzo and that includes purple brick and gray stone embeddings forming a contrasting sample on the superbly symmetrical constructing. Door handles showcase Pegasus heads, whereas a sculpture of Moses stands out entrance.
Plečnik is a reputation that comes up usually on the tour, as he’s had a long-lasting affect on the aesthetics of the town. He could have died in 1957, however his legacy continues to be felt — actually — by anybody who walks (or bikes) by the town.
Picture courtesy of Fooding Round by way of flickr (Be aware: Not the actual barrel talked about under)
3. It’s Potential To Reside In A Sauerkraut Barrel
Whereas biking by Krakovo, a protected farming village that was as soon as a fishermen’s settlement lower than 5 minutes by bike from the Metropolis Heart, I I hear probably the most fascinating info of all.
Explains Tevz, “The previously-mentioned earthquake made fairly a number of individuals homeless. The wealthier moved away, some to relations, some stayed in tents on the town parks and prepare wagons. One in every of profitable sauerkraut producers from city additionally donated an enormous variety of wood sauerkraut barrels. They rolled them onto the sector they usually had been a shelter for among the locals.”
I’m astounded by this, and likewise impressed by the resourcefulness of those previous locals. I suppose the previous saying “The place there’s a will, there’s a means” is true, with human intuition driving them to do what it took to outlive.
Pyramid/Roman Wall at Emona
4. Ljubljana Is Residence To Historic Pyramids
Simply outdoors the Metropolis Heart, so shut you’ll be able to bike however simply far sufficient you might not comprehend it’s there, we cycle by Emona, with buildings older than medieval buildings in Ljubljana’s Previous City round Mestni trg (Metropolis Sq.) and Gornji trg (Higher Sq.).
Explains Tevz, “At Mirje you’ll be able to see the stays of the south wall of Emona, a settlement from Roman instances, beginning yr 14 after Christ. Part of it’s also a pyramid with a passage by it; nevertheless, it’s not an previous Roman or Egyptian pyramid. It was added in a renovation and designed by Plečnik within the early 1900s.”
Okay, so perhaps the pyramid itself wasn’t historic, however the web site was, thought to have had 5,000 colonists and have performed an essential function within the Roman Empire’s protection technique. Apparently, Tevz notes the pyramid steps are a well-liked place to have an al fresco lunch or beer.
Metelkova Metropolis in Ljubljana
5. You Don’t Want To Be Wealthy To Begin Your Personal Metropolis
Tevz and I cycle throughout Fabiani Bridge — named after architect Max Fabiani, who helped rebuild Ljubljana after the earthquake — earlier than stopping in “Museum Sq.,” my private nickname for it. As soon as navy barracks, at present the realm featured an array of artistic and fascinating establishments: the Slovene Ethnographic Museum, the Museum of Modern Artwork, a bit of the Nationwide Museum. Whereas I beloved the power of the sq., the concepts of rebirth and renewal clear, my favourite spot embodying these themes got here subsequent: Metelkova Metropolis. This, together with with the hilly mountain climbing trails in Tivoli Park, rapidly turned my favourite metropolis sights
“Metelkova Metropolis, or Metelkova Metropolis Autonomous Cultural Heart, was established on the location of former navy barracks,” says Tevz. “When Slovenia gained independence in 1991, the Yugoslav Military moved out, and the amenities had been meant to be demolished. In 1993 a bunch of individuals occupied the place, squatted to forestall the demolition after which it slowly began to evolve into what it’s now.”
After explaining the premise of Metelkova, I run like a cheetah from constructing to constructing, wall to wall, window to window, attempting to seize each element of the place with my digital camera. For those who’d left me there for every week I nonetheless don’t suppose this is able to have been doable.
6. The Ljubljanica Is Extra Than Simply A Cafe-Lined River, It’s A Treasure Trove
Whereas it’s simple to wander the Ljubljanica within the pedestrian-friendly Metropolis Heart, or sip espresso and native wines on the out of doors venues that line it, the bike tour takes me to totally different elements of the river that transcend leisure.
Says Tevz, “The Ljubljanica river is a wealthy archaeological web site, particularly within the half crossing Barje — a flat plain that was marshy, swampy floor, the place the primary everlasting settlers lived. Huge number of finds like weapons, instruments, cutlery and jewellery from the Copper Age to New Age have been discovered. Within the central half, the native diving membership does a yearly ‘research-cleaning’ of the riverbed, presenting all ‘finds’ on the sq., like bicycles and highway indicators.”
For now, I’ll follow biking round its magnificence and ingesting it in with waterside wines.