Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia. It is located in the centre of the country in the Ljubljana Basin, and is the centre of the City Municipality of Ljubljana. With approximately 272,000 inhabitants, it classifies as the only Slovenian large town. Throughout its history, it has been influenced by its geographic position at the crossroads of the Slavic world with the Germanic and Latin cultures.
For centuries, Ljubljana was the capital of the historical region of Carniola, and in the 20th century it became the cultural, educational, economic, political and administrative centre of Slovenia, independent since 1991. Its transport connections, concentration of industry, scientific and research institutions and cultural tradition are contributing factors to its leading position.
After World War II, Ljubljana became the capital of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia, part of Communist Yugoslavia, a status it retained until 1991, when Slovenia became independent. Ljubljana remained the capital of Slovenia, which entered the European Union in 2004.
Slovenia lies at the meeting point of the Alpine, Pannonian and Mediterranean regions, whose cultural features are reflected in the choice of Slovenian cuisine. It is evident that traditional dishes are generally of rural origin, but nevertheless Slovenian cuisine is not without refinement and the element of surprise. The experience of Slovenian cuisine is inseparably connected with the concept of "gostilna" restaurants, traditional places to enjoy good food and wine in good company. Gostilnas often serve dishes prepared to old recipes using local ingredients. As Slovenian countryside is dotted with mainly small family farms and large-scale agricultural production is scarce, food ingredients are relatively healthy and often organically grown. Enjoying home-grown fruits, vegetables and other local farm produce is an important part of the way of life in Slovenia.
Ljubljanians love to shop at the city's colourful and picturesque Central Market, designed by the architect Jože Plečnik. Also other food markets are generally popular and well stocked. In people's minds, organic and healthy food is closely connected with the concept of "home-grown". Among the popular novelties of recent times, for instance, are milk dispensers offering locally produced whole milk at a low price. For those with a more discerning palate there are a number of delicatessens offering quality certified foods from around Slovenia as well as wine bars and shops selling premium Slovenian wines.
In the centre of Ljubljana you can shop for fashion clothing from both well-known international fashion brands and renowned Slovenian fashion designers, glass and crystalware, antiques, arts and crafts items and much more. The shops marked by the LQ sign offer the best selection of goods, the best service and the best ambience according to an expert commission. They are entitled to use the LQ sign for two years from the date of the award announcement. The Ljubljana Quality project is run by Ljubljana Tourism, the city's tourist board. In 2010, the LQ selection procedure involved the assessment of 76 small shops in the centre of Ljubljana.
On the one hand, the night scene in Ljubljana is fuelled by clubs based on the concept of combining a bar or restaurant with a dance club and occasional live music venue. There are also several rock and jazz clubs, gaming salons and adult night clubs. On the other hand, nightlife in Ljubljana owes its unique character to places promoting innovative creative practices, such as the Kino Šiška Centre for Urban Culture, which presents an exceptionally modern programme of events, the Klub K4 club, dedicated to promoting contemporary electronic music for over two decades now, and the Metelkova mesto alternative culture centre.
The history of Metelkova mesto goes back to 1993, when a group of artists squatted a former barracks complex earmarked for demolition. Over just a few years, the city's largest squat developed into one of Europe's best known centres for independent artistic practices hosting a daily programme of concerts, lectures, exhibitions and other events held at a string of clubs, galleries and other venues maintained by artists themselves.
- Saint Nicholas Cathedral serves the Archdiocese of Ljubljana. Easily identifiable due to its green dome and twin towers, it is located on Cyril and Methodius Square by the nearby Ljubljana Central Market and the Town Hall. The Diocese of Ljubljana was set up in 1461. Between 1701 and 1706, the Jesuit architect Andrea Pozzo designed the 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.
- Ljubljana Castle (Ljubljanski grad) is a medieval 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 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, a function it still holds today. Today, it is a tourist attraction. Cultural events and weddings also take place there. Since 2006, a funicular has linked the city centre to the castle atop the hill.
- The Dragon Bridge. 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 Secession style. Some residents nicknamed the bridge "mother-in-law" in reference to the fearsome dragons on its four corners.
- The Town Hall is the seat of the City Municipality of Ljubljana. It is located on the Town Square in the city centre close to the St. Nicholas Cathedral. The original building was built by the Carniolan architect Peter Bezlaj in 1584. Between 1717 and 1719, the building underwent a radical renovation by the architect Gregor Maček in a combination of late Baroque and Classicist style. In the mid 1920s, a monument to the Serbian and first Yugoslav king Peter I was erected in the entrance of the Town Hall. The monument, designed by the architect Jože Plečnik, was removed and destroyed by the Fascist Italian occupation authorities of the Province of Ljubljana in April 1941. A replica of the Robba's fountain, completed in 1751, stands outside the Town Hall, while the original is kept in the National Gallery.
- The Robba fountain. officially known as the Fountain of the Three Rivers of Carniola. It was originally located outside the Ljubljana town hall near the St. Nicholas Cathedral. In 2006, the fountain was renovated and moved into the National Gallery, while a replica was placed in its previous site on the Town Square. The fountain was designed between 1743 and 1751 by the Italian sculptor Francesco Robba who, inspired by Bernini's Fountain of the Four Rivers on Piazza Navona during a visit to Rome, designed the fountain to represent the three rivers of Carniola: Ljubljanica, Sava and Krka. Steps representing the Carniolan mountains lead up to the fountain with its characteristic obelisk in the middle.
The Castle Interior courtyard