Thursday, May 29, 2014

From Škofja Loka to Ljubljana

May 27th - We biked from Škofja Loka to Ljubljana, arriving a bit before noon. We wanted a lot of time in this capitol city of 280,000 and all we had was one afternoon and evening. If you plan a bike trip through Slovenia, leave an extra day for this beautiful city!

We walked to the old part of the city and found ourselves surrounded by shoe stores. Darrell has been annoyed with the flip-flop sound of my flip-flops, and wore me down enough that I bought a pair of black sandals that don’t make noise when I walk! I guess all the old shoes ended up here!

Old shoes and an umbrella by the shoe stores
We walked to the top of the hill where the castle (of course) looked over the town. I needed to start with a macchiato before tackling the museum and climbing all the stairs to the tower. I’m going to have to find a personal barista to make me specialty coffees when I get home…

Republic Square and its associated park are on the right
This view shows Republic Square where Slovenians joined together for independence, which they gained from Yugoslavia in 1991.

The main architectural styles are Venetian Secessionist and Baroque, and the overall effect when you add in the river, the bridges, and all the street side cafés, is absolutely lovely.

Such a beautiful city!
The Ljubljana dragon is part of the city’s coat of arms. It symbolises strength, courage and might. While some people go with the ol’ St. George killing the dragon story, the more local story has to do with Jason and the Argonauts. The story actually begins in the next post – but picks up here after the Argonauts get stuck at the source of the Ljubljanica River at Močilnik Spring and overwinter there. They then took apart their ship (the Argo) and carried it to the Adriatic, where they set sail for home. According to the legend, as they passed between what is now Vrhnika (next post) and Ljubljana, the Argonauts came across a large marsh where a terrible dragon lived. Jason killed the dragon after a heroic struggle, and the dragon is now a symbol of the city.

This is an artistic dragon. There is a more realistic one on the Dragon Bridge.
The myth can probably be found in the University Library that was designed by the architect Jože Plečnik. This building, completed in 1941, is one of his masterpieces. You enter through large doors with horse head doorknobs and you are entombed in dark marble. As you slowly ascend the stairs, light from windows above begins to illuminate the space. Lighter colored marble replaces the black, and you arrive at the top where huge columns seem to lift the ceiling and tall windows suffuse the area with light. With knowledge comes enlightenment.

Enter here for the light of knowledge
We really enjoyed this beautiful city. And there is so much more we didn’t see. We missed the National Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and other smaller museums and galleries. We mostly looked at Ljubljana from the outside – but that was a pretty sweet beginning!

Darrell's arty window photo

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