Ljubljana is the capital and the largest city of Slovenia, it was originally settled by Illyrian and Celtic peoples, and then became part of the Roman Empire in the first century B.C. When the Hungarians were defeated by the Turks in 1526, Hungary accepted Austrian Hapsburg rule in order to escape Turkish domination; the Hapsburg monarchy was the first to include all of the Slovene regions. Slovenia and Croatia became part of the Austro-Hungarian kingdom when the dual monarchy was established in 1867.

Following the defeat and collapse of Austria-Hungary in World War I, Slovenia declared its independence. It formally joined with Montenegro, Serbia, and Croatia on Dec. 4, 1918, to form the new nation called the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, which was changed to Yugoslavia in 1929. During World War II, Germany occupied Yugoslavia, and Slovenia was divided among Germany, Italy, and Hungary. In 1945, Slovenia was again made into a republic of the newly established Communist nation of Yugoslavia.

Slovenia declared its independence from Yugoslavia on June 25, 1991, with recognition of its independence granted by the European Community in 1992, the country began realigning its economy and society toward western Europe. Slovenia joined the EU and NATO in 2004. Slovenia changed its currency to the euro on January 1, 2007, becoming the first former Communist country to do so. In January 2008, Slovenia became the first former communist nation to assume the EU presidency.

I arrived in Ljubljana by train, a delightful two and a half hour journey, including stopping at the border for passport control personnel, who board the train to check passports, from Zagreb, Croatia.

The city has high environmental standards and is one of the greenest European capitals, the city centre is closed to motor vehicle traffic. It’s one of the smallest European capitals so is easy to explore on foot, or bicycle. The River Ljubljana flows through the city centre which provides for a variety of bridges to cross when sightseeing. Café culture is huge here, with cafes seemly almost every few meters throughout the city and also along the riverbank. The city has a lovely vibe, I really liked it here.

The Dragon Bridge, with its famous dragon statues, was constructed between 1900 and 1901, it was Ljubljana’s first reinforced concrete structure and one of the largest bridges of its kind to be built in Europe. At the time of its opening, it was called the Jubilee Bridge of Emperor Franz Joseph I. The Dragon Bridge was given its Art Nouveau appearance by the Dalmatian architect Jurij Zaninović.

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