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Ljubljana ( ) is the capital of Sloveniamarker and its largest city. It is located in the centre of the country, historically part of Inner Carniola, and is a mid-sized city of some 280,000 inhabitants. Ljubljana is regarded as the cultural, scientific, economic, political and administrative centre of Slovenia, independent since 1991. Throughout its history, it has been influenced by its geographic position at the crossroads of Germanic, Latin and Slavic culture.

Its transport connections, concentration of industry, scientific and research institutions and industrial tradition are contributing factors to its leading economic position. Ljubljana is the seat of the central government, administrative bodies and all government ministries of Slovenia. It is also the seat of Parliamentmarker and of the Office of the President.

Etymology and symbol

Historians disagree about the origins of the city's name. Some believe it derives from ancient Slavic city called Laburus. Others think the word comes from the Latin Aluviana following a flood in the town. It could also come from Laubach ("marsh"). The old German name for the city is Laibach, in official use until 1918.

According to the celebrated Greek legend, the hero Jason and his Argonauts, after finding the Golden Fleece in Colchis, ended up going northwards by sailing on the Danube rather than returning towards the Aegean Seamarker. Going up, it is said they went towards its tributary the Sava and then to the source of the river Ljubljanicamarker. They disembarked in order to carry their boat to the Adriatic Seamarker, located to the west, in order to return home. Between the present-day cities of Vrhnikamarker and Ljubljana, the Argonauts found a large lake surrounded by a marsh. It is there that Jason struck down a monster. This monster was the dragon that today is present on the city's coat of arms and flag. Several winged dragons also decorate the Ljubljanica-crossing Dragon Bridgemarker ( ), often regarded as the most beautiful bridge produced by the Vienna Secessionmarker.


Around 2000 BC, the Ljubljana Marshes were settled by people living in wooden structures on pilotis. These people lived through hunting, fishing and primitive agriculture. To get around the marshes, they used dugout canoes made by cutting out the inside of tree trunks. Later, the area remained a transit point for numerous tribes and peoples. The land was first settled by the Veneti, followed by an Illyrian tribe called the Iapydes and then in the 3rd century BC a Celtic tribe, the Taurisci.

Around 50 BC, the Romans built a military encampment that later became a permanent settlement called Iulia Aemona (Emona). This entrenched fort was occupied by the Legio XV Apollinaris. In 452 it was destroyed by the Huns under Attila's orders, and later by the Ostrogoths and the Lombards. Emona housed 5,000–6,000 inhabitants and played an important role during numerous battles. Its plastered brick houses, painted in different colours, were already connected to a drainage system. In the 6th century, the ancestors of the Slovenes moved in. In the 9th century, the Slovenes fell under Frankish domination, while experiencing frequent Magyar raids.

The name of the city, Luwigana, appears for the first time in a document from 1144. In the 13th century, the town was composed of three zones: the Stari trg ("Old Square"), the Mestni trg ("Town Square") and the Novi trg ("New Square"). In 1220, Ljubljana was granted city rights, including the right to coin its own money.

In 1270, Carniola and in particular Ljubljana was conquered by King Ottokar II of Bohemia. When he was in turn defeated by Rudolph of Habsburg, the latter took the town in 1278. Renamed Laibach, it would belong to the House of Habsburg until 1797. The Diocese of Ljubljana was established in 1461 and the Church of St. Nicholasmarker became a cathedral.

In the 15th century Ljubljana became recognised for its art. After an earthquake in 1511, it was rebuilt in Renaissance style and a new wall was built around it. In the 16th century, the population numbered 5,000, 70% of whom spoke Slovene as their mother tongue, with most of the rest using German. Soon after the first book written in Slovene was published in Germany (Primož Trubar's Catechism, Tübingen 1550) the pedagogue Adam Bohorič had his three Slovene-language books, "Elementale Labacense oder Abecedarium der lateinischen, deutschen und slowenischen Sprache", his "Nomenclatura trium liguarum" and his "Otroshia tabla", printed in the Carniolan capital by Hans Mannel (Slovene: Janž Mandelc). By that time, the Protestant Reformation had gained ground in the town. Several important Lutheran preachers lived and worked in Ljubljana, including Primož Trubar, Adam Bohorič and Jurij Dalmatin, whose Slovene bible, however, was printed in German Wittenbergmarker. Around the same time, the first secondary school, public library and printing house opened in Ljubljana. Ljubljana thus became the undisputed centre of Slovene culture, a position maintained thereafter. In 1597, the Jesuits arrived in the city and established a new secondary school that later became a college. Baroque architecture appeared at the end of the 17th century as foreign architects and sculptors came in.

The Napoleonic interlude saw Ljubljana as "Laybach" become, from 1809 to 1813, the capital of the Illyrian Provinces. In 1815, the city became Austrian again and from 1816 to 1849 was the administrative centre of the Kingdom of Illyria in the Austrian Empiremarker. In 1821 it hosted the Congress of Laibach, which fixed European political borders for years to come. The first train arrived in 1849 from Vienna and in 1857 the line was extended to Triestemarker. Public electric lighting appeared in 1898. In 1895, Ljubljana, then a city of 31,000, suffered a serious earthquake measuring 6.1 on the Richter scale. Some 10% of its 1,400 buildings were destroyed, although casualties were light. During the reconstruction that followed, a number of quarters were rebuilt in Art Nouveau style.

In 1918, following the end of World War I and the dissolution of Austria-Hungary, the region joined the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenesmarker. In 1929, Ljubljana became the capital of Drava Banovina, a Yugoslavmarker province. In 1941, during World War II, Fascist Italy occupied the city, and on 3 May 1941 made "Lubiana" the capital of the now Italian "Provincia di Lubiana" with the former Yugoslav general Leon Rupnik as mayor. After the Italian capitulation, Nazi Germany with SS-general Erwin Roesener and Friedrich Rainer took control in 1943 but formally the city remained the capital of an Italian province until 9 May 1945. In Ljubljana, the occupying forces established strongholds and command centres of Quisling organisations, the Anti-Communist Volunteer Militia under Italy and the Home Guard under German occupation. The city was surrounded by over of barbed wire to prevent co-operation between the underground resistance movement (Liberation Front of the Slovenian People) within the city and the Yugoslav Partisans (Partizani) who operated outside the fence. Since 1985, a commemorative path has ringed the city where this iron fence once stood.

After World War II, Ljubljana became the capital of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia, part of Communist Yugoslaviamarker, a status it retained until 1991, when Slovenia became independent. Ljubljana remained the capital of Slovenia, which entered the European Union in 2004.

Geography and climate

Map of Ljubljana
Map of Ljubljana centre
The city, with an area of , is situated in central Sloveniamarker. Its location between Austriamarker, Hungarymarker, the Venicemarker region in Italymarker and Croatiamarker has strongly influenced its history. Ljubljana is located some west of Zagrebmarker, east of Venice, southwest of Viennamarker and southwest of Budapestmarker.

Topography and hydrography

The city is located at an altitude of in the valley of the river Ljubljanica between the Kras region and the Julian Alpsmarker. The castle, which sits atop a hill south of the city centre, is at altitude while the city's highest point, called Janški Hrib, reaches .

Ljubljana is near the confluence of the rivers Ljubljanica and Sava, at the foot of Castle Hill. The Sava, in turn, flows into the Danube at Belgrademarker before reaching the Black Seamarker.


The city stretches out on an alluvial plain dating to the Quaternary era. The nearby, older mountainous regions date back to the Mesozoic (Triassic) or Paleozoic.

A number of earthquakes have devastated Ljubljana, including in 1511 and 1895. Slovenia is in a rather active seismic zone because of its position to the south of the Eurasian Plate. Thus the country is at the junction of three important tectonic zones: the Alps to the north, the Dinaric Alps to the south and the Pannonian Basin to the east. Scientists have been able to identify 60 destructive earthquakes in the past. Additionally, a network of seismic stations is active throughout the country.


Ljubljana's climate is Oceanic (Köppen climate classification "Cfb"), bordering on a Humid subtropical climate zone (Köppen climate classification Cfa), with continental characteristics such as warm summers and moderately cold winters. July and August are the warmest months with daily highs generally between , and January is the coldest month with the temperatures mostly oscillating around . The city experiences 90 days of frost per year, and 11 days with temperatures above . The precipitations are relatively evenly distributed through the seasons, although winter and spring tend to be somewhat drier than summer and autumn. Yearly precipitation is about , making Ljubljana one of the wettest European capitals. Thunderstorms are very common from May to September and can occasionally be quite heavy. Snow is common from December to February; on average, there are 65 days with snow cover recorded each winter season. The city is known for its fog, which is recorded on average on 121 days per year, mostly in autumn and winter, and can be particularly persistent in conditions of temperature inversion.


Districts of Ljubljana
Ljubljana has 17 districts, listed below. It was formerly composed of five municipalities (Bežigrad, Center, Moste-Polje, Šiška and Vič-Rudnik) that still correspond to the main electoral constituencies of the city.

  1. Bežigrad
  2. Center
  3. Črnuče
  4. Dravlje
  5. Golovec
  6. Jarše
  7. Mostemarker
  8. Polje
  9. Posavje
  1. Rožnik
  2. Rudnik
  3. Sostro
  4. Šentvid
  5. Šiška
  6. Šmarna gora
  7. Trnovo
  8. Vič

Main sights


Despite the appearance of large buildings, especially at the city's edge, Ljubljana's historic centre remains intact; there, Baroque and Art Nouveau styles mix. The city is strongly influenced by the Austrian fashion in the style of Grazmarker and Salzburgmarker.

The old city is made up of two districts: one includes Ljubljana town hall and the principal architectural works; the other, the neighbourhood of the Chevaliers de la Croix, features the Ursuline church, the philharmonic society buildingmarker (1702) and the Cankar house.

After the 1511 earthquake, Ljubljana was rebuilt in a Baroque style following the model of a Renaissance town; after the 1895 quake, which severely damaged the city, it was once again rebuilt, this time in an Art Nouveau style. The city's architecture is thus a mix of styles. The large sectors built after the Second World War often include a personal touch by the Slovene architect Jože Plečnik.

Ljubljana Castlemarker dominates the hill over the river Ljubljanica. Built in the 12th century, the castle (like a castle at Kranjmarker) was a residence of the Margraves, later the Dukes of Carniola. Aside from the castle, the city's main architectural works are St. Nicholas Cathedralmarker, St. Peter's Church, the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation, the Triple Bridgemarker and the Dragon Bridgemarker.

Near town hall, on the Mestni Trg square, is Robba's fountain, in Baroque style. Resembling the fountain on Romemarker's Piazza Navonamarker, it is decorated with an obelisk at the foot of which are three figures in white marble symbolising the three chief rivers of Carniola. It is the work of Francesco Robba, who designed numerous other Baroque statues in the city. Ljubljana's churches are equally marked by this style that gained currency following the 1511 earthquake.

For its part, Art Nouveau features prominently on Prešeren Squaremarker and on the Dragon Bridge. Among the important influences on the city was the architect Jože Plečnik, who designed several bridges, including the Triple Bridge, as well as the National Librarymarker. Nebotičnikmarker is a notable high-rise.

File:TownHall-Ljubljana.JPG|Ljubljana town hallFile:SLO-Ljubljana20.JPG|Mestni Trg square with Robba's fountain and St. Nicholas Cathedralmarker in the backgroundFile:LjubljanaFrančiškanska072008.JPG|The Franciscan Church of the Annunciation with the monument to France Prešeren at right and the Triple Bridgemarker in the foregroundFile:StPeter-Ljubljana.JPG|St. Peter's ChurchFile:UrbancevaHisa-Ljubljana.JPG|The Art Nouveau Urbanc House on Prešeren SquaremarkerFile:Neboticnik-Ljubljana.JPG|Nebotičnikmarker

Ljubljana Castle

Ljubljana Castle (Ljubljanski grad) is a mediaeval castle located at the summit of the hill that dominates the city centre. The area surrounding today's castle has been continuously inhabited since 1200 BC. The hill summit probably became a Roman army stronghold after fortifications were built in Illyrian and Celtic times.

The castle was first mentioned in 1144 as the seat of the Duchy of Carniola. The fortress was destroyed when the duchy became part of the Habsburg domains in 1335. Between 1485 and 1495, the present castle was built and furnished with towers. Its purpose was to defend the empire against Ottoman invasion as well as peasant revolt. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the castle became an arsenal and a military hospital. It was damaged during the Napoleonic period and, once back in the Austrian Empiremarker, became a prison, which it remained until 1905, resuming that function during World War II. The castle's Outlook Tower dates to 1848; this was inhabited by a guard whose duty it was to fire cannons warning the city in case of fire or announcing important visitors or events.

In 1905, the city of Ljubljana purchased the castle, which underwent a renovation in the 1960s. Today, it is a tourist attraction; cultural events also take place there. Since 2006, a funicular has linked the city centre to the castle atop the hill (see Ljubljana tram system).

St. Nicholas Cathedral

St. Nicholas Cathedral of Ljubljanamarker (Stolnica svetega Nikolaja) is the city's only cathedral. Easily identifiable due to its green dome and twin towers, it is located on Vodnik square near the Triple Bridge.

Originally, the site was occupied by a three-nave Romanesque church first mentioned in 1262. After a fire in 1361 it was re-vaulted in Gothic style. The Diocese of Ljubljana was set up in 1461 and eight years later, a new fire presumably set by the Ottomans once again burnt down the building.

Between 1701 and 1706, the Jesuit architect Andrea Pozzo designed a new Baroque church with two side chapels shaped in the form of a Latin cross. The dome was built in the centre in 1841. The interior is decorated with Baroque frescos painted by Giulio Quaglio between 1703-1706 and 1721-1723.

Dragon Bridge

The Dragon Bridgemarker (Zmajski most) was built between 1900 and 1901, when the city was part of Austria-Hungary. Designed by a Dalmatian architect who studied in Vienna and built by an Austrian engineer, the bridge is considered one of the finest works in the Vienna Secessionmarker Art Nouveau style. Some residents nicknamed the bridge "mother-in-law" in reference to the fearsome dragons on its four corners.

Tivoli Park

Tivoli Park is the largest park in Ljubljana. The park was designed in 1813 by a French engineer J. Blanchard and now covers approximately 5 km2. It has 3 main avenues, planted with chestnut-trees. Within the park, you can find different types of trees, flower gardens, several statues, and fountains.

At the edge of the Tivoli Park is a fish pond, dating back to 1880. On one side of the pond is a small botanic garden, on the other side is a children's playground. Between 1921 and 1939 Jože Plečnik designed a broad central promenade, called Jakopič promenade after a Slovene impressionist painter Rihard Jakopič.


In 1869, Ljubljana had just under 27,000 inhabitants, a figure that grew to 80,000 by the mid-1930s. Demographic growth remained fairly stable between 1999 and 2007, with a population of about 270,000. Before 1996, the city's population surpassed 320,000 but the drop that year was mainly caused by a territorial reorganisation that saw certain peripheral districts attached to neighbouring municipalities. At the 2002 census, 39.2% of Ljubljana residents were Roman Catholic; 30.4% were believers who did not belong to a religion, unknown or did not reply; 19.2% were atheist; 5.5% were Eastern Orthodox; 5.0% were Muslim; and the remaining 0.7% were Protestant or belonged to other religions.

Demographic evolution
1869 1880 1890 1900 1910 1931 1935 1948 1953 1961 1966 1970 1980 2001
26,879 32,265 36,878 45,017 56,844 79,391 85,000 98,914 113,666 135,806 154,690 180,714 265,000 270,032

Government and crime

Municipal elections take place every four years. Between 2002 and 2006, Danica Simšič was mayor. Since the municipal elections of 22 October 2006, Zoran Janković, an important businessman in Slovenia, has been the mayor of Ljubljana, having won 62.99% of the votes. The majority on the city council (the mayor's own party) holds 23 of 45 seats. Among other roles, the council drafts the municipal budget, and is assisted by various boards active in the fields of health, sports, finances, education, environmental protection and tourism. The Ljubljana electoral zone is also composed of 17 districts that have local authorities working with the city council to make known citizens' suggestions and prepare activities in their districts.

The jurisdiction of the Ljubljana police (Policija) covers an area of , which represents 18.8% of the national territory. There are 17 police stations employing 1,380 individuals, of whom 1,191 are police officers and 189 are civilians. With around 45,000 criminal acts in 2007, the Ljubljana police district alone accounts for over 50% of the country's crimes. Slovenia and in particular Ljubljana have a quiet and secure reputation.


In 1981, Ljubljana's per capita GDP was 260% of the Yugoslav average. By the late 2000s, Ljubljana produced about 25% of Slovenia's GDP. In 2003, the level of active working population was 62%; 64% worked in the private sector and 36% in the public sector. In January 2007, the unemployment rate was 6.5% (down from 7.7% a year earlier), compared with a national average of 8.7%.

Industry remains the city's most important employer, notably in the pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals and food processing. Other fields include banking, finance, transport, construction, skilled trades and services and tourism. The public sector provides jobs in education, culture, health care and local administration.

The Ljubljana Stock Exchange ( ), purchased in 2008 by the Vienna Stock Exchangemarker, deals with large Slovenian companies. Some of these have their headquarters in the capital region: for example, the retail chain Mercator, the oil company Petrol d.d. and the telecommunications concern Telekom Slovenije. Over 15,000 enterprises operate in the city, most of them in the tertiary sector.


The Academy of the Industrious (Academia operosorum Labacensis) opened in 1693; it closed in 1801 but was a precursor to the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, founded in 1938. Today, students make up one-seventh of Ljubljana's population, giving the city a youthful character. The University of Ljubljanamarker, Slovenia's most important and Ljubljana's only university, was founded in 1919. As of 2008, it has 22 faculties, three academies and a college. These offer Slovenian-language courses in (among other subjects) medicine, applied sciences, arts, law and administration. The university has close to 64,000 students and some 4,000 teaching faculty.

In 2004, the national library and university library had 1,169,090 books in all. In 2006, the 55 primary schools had 20,802 pupils and the 32 secondary schools had 25,797.


Ljubljana has numerous art galleries and museums. In 2004, there were 15 museums, 41 art galleries, 11 theatres and four professional orchestras. There is for example an architecture museum, a railway museum, a sports museum, a museum of modern art, a brewery museum, the Slovenian Museum of Natural History and the Slovene Ethnographic Museum. The Ljubljana Zoo covers and has 152 animal species. An antique flea market takes place every Sunday in the old city. In 2006, the museums received 264,470 visitors, the galleries 403,890 and the theatres 396,440.

Each year over 10,000 cultural events take place in the city; among these are ten international festivals of theatre, music and art generally. Numerous music festivals are held there, chiefly in European classical music and jazz, for instance the Ljubljana Summer Festival (Ljubljanski poletni festival). In the centre of the various Slovenian wine regions, Ljubljana is known for being a "city of wine and vine". Grapevines were already being planted on the slopes leading up to the Castle Hill by the Roman inhabitants of Emona.

In 1701, present-day Slovenia's first philharmonic academymarker opened in Ljubljana, which spurred the development of musical production in the region. Some of its honorary members would include Joseph Haydn, Ludwig van Beethoven and Johannes Brahms, as well as the violinist Niccolò Paganini. Early in his career, Gustav Mahler served as conductor at the opera house, giving eighty-four complete performances between September 1881 and April 1882.

The National Gallery (Narodna galerija), founded in 1918, and the Museum of Modern Art (Moderna galerija), both in Ljubljana, exhibit the most famous Slovenian artists (among then Franz Caucig, 1755-1828). On Metelkova street there is a social centre dedicated to alternative culture, set up in a renovated former Austro-Hungarian barracks. This lively street has numerous clubs and concert halls that play various types of music, mainly alternative rock. In the 1980s, Ljubljana became the centre of the Neue Slowenische Kunst, which among others included the music group Laibach and the painters of the IRWIN collective; the philosopher Slavoj Žižek was also associated with it.


Ljubljana's ice hockey clubs are HD HS Olimpija, ŠD Alfa, HK Slavija and HDD Olimpija Ljubljana. They all compete in the Slovenian Hockey League; HDD Olimpija Ljubljana also takes part in the Austrian Hockey League. The basketball teams are KD Slovan, ŽKD Ježica Ljubljana and KK Union Olimpija. The latter, which has a green dragon as its mascot, hosts its matches in the 6,000-seat Tivoli Arena (Dvorana Tivoli), also the home rink of HDD Olimpija Ljubljanamarker.

The city's football teams which play in the Slovenian PrvaLiga are Interblock Ljubljana and NK Olimpija Ljubljanamarker.

Each year since 1957, on 8-10 May, the traditional recreational March along the Path around Ljubljana has taken place to mark the liberation of Ljubljana on 9 May 1945. The last Sunday in October, the Ljubljana Marathon is run on the city's streets. It attracts several thousand runners each year.

The Tacen Whitewater Coursemarker, located on the Sava River, eight kilometers northwest of the city centre, hosts a major international canoe/kayak slalom competition almost every year, examples being the 2008 International Canoe Federation (ICF) Slalom World Cup and the 1991 and 2010 World Championships.


Ljubljana is at the centre of the Slovenian road network, which links the city to all parts of the country. Until July 2008, toll booths were used, but were replaced by a vignette system. The city, in central Slovenia, is linked to the southwest by A1-E70 to the Italian cities of Triestemarker and Venicemarker and the Croatian port of Rijekamarker. To the north, A1-E57 leads to Maribormarker, Grazmarker and Viennamarker. To the east, A2-E70 links it with the Croatian capital Zagrebmarker, from where one can go to Hungarymarker or important cities of the former Yugoslavia, such as Belgrademarker. To the northwest, A2-E61 goes to the Austrian cities of Klagenfurtmarker and Salzburgmarker, making it an important entry point for northern European tourists.

The bus network, run by the city-owned Ljubljanski potniški promet, is Ljubljana's only current means of public transportation. Usually, the buses are called trole ("trolleys"), harking back to the 1951–71 days when Ljubljana had trolleybus (trolejbus) service (trole is used to refer only to Ljubljana's buses, and not those in other Slovenian cities). One can also rent bicycles in the city, and there are numerous taxi companies.

Ljubljana railway station is part of a railway network that links Germany to Croatia through the Munichmarker-Salzburg-Ljubljana-Zagreb line. A second network is the Vienna-Graz-Maribor-Ljubljana one, which links Austria to Slovenia. A third is the Genoamarker-Venice-Ljubljana one, linking Ljubljana to Italy. Finally, a line goes to Budapestmarker.

Ljubljana Airportmarker (IATA code LJU), located north of the city, has flights to numerous European destinations. Among the companies that fly from there are Adria Airways, Air France, Brussels Airlines, EasyJet and Finnair. Among the destinations served are Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Belgrade, Brussels, Budapest, Bucharest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Frankfurt, Helsinki, Istanbul, Kijev, London, Manchester, Moscow, Munich, Ohrid, Paris, Podgorica, Prague, Pristhina, Stockholm, Skopje, Vienna, Warsaw, Tirana, Tel Aviv and Zurich.

International relations

Twin towns - Sister cities

Ljubljana has signed partnership agreements with twenty cities and regions around the world:


  1. Hildegard Temporini and Wolfgang Haase, Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt. de Gruyter, 1988. ISBN 3-11-011893-9. Google Books, p.343
  2. Daniel Mallinus, La Yougoslavie, Éd. Artis-Historia, Brussels, 1988, D/1988/0832/27, p. 37-39.
  3. Approximate road distances calculated through Google Earth.
  5. Ljubljana Calling/Sightseeing/Ljubljana Castle
  6. Krajevni leksikon Slovenije (Ljubljana: DZS, 1995), p.297
  7. Michelin, Slovénie, Croatie, Bosnie-Herzégovine, Serbie, Monténégro, Macédoine, Cartes et guides n°736, Michelin, Zellik, Belgium, 2007, ISBN 978-2-06-712627-5


See also

External links

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