Around 4,000 years ago, the Greek hero Jason sailed from the Black Sea up the Danube and Sava Rivers making his way to present day Ljubljana. After establishing Emona, Jason and his band of Argonauts came across a terrible dragon inhabiting Ljubljana. Jason killed the dragon saving his settlement.
the real story (without the dragon)
The area of Ljubljana existed as a settlement since the 4th Century BC. The city has constantly changed hands between ruling powers. It served as a center for administration or government for the Romans until the Huns laid waste to it. For the next 500 years the area was idle until being rebuilt and coming back to life by the Slavs around 1100 AD. Ljubljana has continued to thrive despite setbacks such as invasions, earthquakes, and threats of war over a desire for independence.
Ljubljana is situated on the Ljubljanica River which practically divides the city in half. The city resembles many throughout Europe in that there are a succession of bridges that unite the two parts. It also provides great opportunities for cafes, hotels, and strolls for the meandering traveler.
the city today
Ljubljana today reflects its historical reputation as a “gate” city. After living in Montenegro and experiencing Balkan life, I felt a little out of place while in Ljubljana, yet there was also something a bit familiar. The languages sound similar, yet are far apart. The food bears some resemblance, however, tastes of a different style. It was as if I was passing between two worlds: Balkan and Austro-German.
Ljubljana brims with life and excitement. A thriving art community is constantly on display through local galleries, graffiti, and the metal works throughout the city. The artisan environment includes the Dragon Bridge that reflects the “history” mentioned above. Full cafes and a central open space designed for the outdoor market it hosts bring attention to the community atmosphere that the city projects.
The community feel is furthered by the social awareness that some of the locals are embracing. At risk youth are being given training and opportunity in a local restaurant learning skills more than keeping jobs. Mentally handicapped have been provided opportunities to use the gifts they have to serve the community as well. It is a wonderful story being told in Ljubljana.