Did you know that SLOVENIA is the only country that has LOVE on its name? Yes, S-LOVE-NIA! There’s so much to love about this country and the name fits it so well. As a lover of nature and beautiful scenery, I fell in love with Slovenia the first time I laid my eyes on her. However there is more to Slovenia than just beautiful sights. That’s why their tourism slogan is “I Feel s-LOVE-nia!”
Imagine a scene from a fairy tale movie, perhaps you might think of castles, dragons, medieval buildings, mountains, lakes, forest, stories and legends and the list goes on. All of these you can find in Slovenia. Exciting right?
Let’s start with the breathtaking views. As soon as we entered Slovenian territory, we saw beautiful landscapes, greeneries, rolling fields and even a church on a hill. These were only some of the delightful sights we enjoyed while cruising the countryside.
Old Town Ljubljana – Graffiti, Cathedral, Bridges, Dragons and Castle
We arrived in Ljubljana the capital of Slovenia at around 3 o’clock in the afternoon. After getting settled in our hotel, we were given a walking tour of the Old Town by a local guide. As we started walking towards the important sites of the city, I’ve noticed the different graffiti’s all over the place. In fact it was the first thing I noticed while on the bus as we entered the capital.
The City of Graffiti and Hanging Shoes
The countless graffiti in the city might not give a good impression to some tourist. But for those with artistic inclination, they regard this as a form of art. In fact the different graffiti we saw became famous tourist attractions in the city.
Another weird thing that the city has are the hanging shoes. If you stroll along the streets of the Old Town you will see wires with shoes hanging on them. According to some of the locals, it started as a mystery because hanging shoes on a wire was never a tradition back then. However, according to some stories, the hanging of the shoes began when a shoe maker near the Shoemaker’s Bridge first hung a pair of shoes. After doing so, her shop got regularly visited by many customers. The second pair were hung by a lawyer and the next day he got his first job. The third one by a ballet dancer, and the rest followed. When people got hold of these stories, the wires began appearing in the city with multiple pairs of shoe hanging on it. Perhaps the belief that this would bring good luck is the reason why people hung their shoes. Until today the hanging of the shoes continues.
One of the famous landmarks in the city is the Dragon Bridge. The bridge crosses the Ljubljanica River and connects Kopitar Street and Ressel Street. What’s interesting about the bridge are the dragons who guard it and the legend behind them.
There is a legend that Jason was the founder of Ljubljana, and he and his Argonauts killed a dragon. This is one of the four dragon statues in the bridge. According to local legends, when a virgin crosses the bridge, the dragons will wag their tails. Some local people have nicknamed this structure “mother-in-law” because of its fiery nature.
Cathedral of St. Nicholas
the Cathedral of St. Nicholas, also known as the Ljubljana Cathedral, was originally a Gothic Church. It was replaced by a Baroque building in the 18th century. Today some of the decors and frescoes remain original.
People in Ljubljana back then must have been very fascinated with bridges. The city has many bridges and the most famous of them are the Triple Bridge which is a group of 3 pedestrian bridges that connects the historic and Medieval Old Town and the modern city of Ljubljana. So why settle for one bridge when you can have 3 in the same place.
Restaurants along the Ljubljanica River and the Butcher’s Bridge.
Because Slovenia is a country of LOVE – couples and lovers of all sorts are free to express their love and secures it by hanging their love locks at the Butcher’s Bridge. As for me and my husband, we don’t need any love locks to secure our love for each other. True love doesn’t need anything to prove it, it will remain strong no matter what and it will last forever.
View of the Ljubljana Castle from the banks of Ljubljanica River
Due to time constraints we were not able to explore the Castle Complex. However, if you have extra time in Ljubljana, make sure to visit it. The views from the top are amazing and it’s really worth your time.
Lake Bled and Legends
From the capital Ljubljana we traveled for approximately 45 minutes to the town of Bled. The place is known for its fairy tale sights. It is surrounded by mountains and forest and a Medieval castle can be seen on top of a cliff overlooking the lake.
The place is truly breathtaking. I must say it was one of the best sights I’ve seen during our 11 days Eastern Highlights Tour with Expat Explore. It’s just a shame that we only spent less than an hour in Bled. Although we were lucky enough to see the place since it was not included in our tour itinerary to begin with. But still seeing Lake Bled up close and personal was a great experience and I can finally tick it off my bucket list.
The lake surrounds Bled Island (Blejski otok). The island has several buildings, the main one being the pilgrimage church dedicated to the Assumption of Mary (Cerkev Marijinega vnebovzetja), built in its current form near the end of the 17th century, and decorated with remains of Gothic frescos from around 1470 in the presbyterium and rich Baroque equipment. The church has a 52 m (171 ft) tower and there is a Baroque stairway dating from 1655 with 99 stone steps leading up to the building. The church is frequently visited and weddings are held there regularly. Traditionally it is considered good luck for the groom to carry his bride up the steps on the day of their wedding before ringing the bell and making a wish inside the church.
The Legend of the Sunken Bell
Once upon a time there lived a young widow in the castle of Bled. Her husband was killed by robbers and his body was thrown into the lake. She was so inconsolable that she gathered all her gold and silver and cast a bell for the chapel on the island, in memory to her husband. But the bell didn’t arrive there. The bell, the boat and boatmen sank during a terrible storm. The desperate widow sold all her property after this accident. She offered the proceeds for the construction of a new church on the island. She left Bled and lived the rest of her life in Rome as a nun. After her death the Pope had heard of her misfortune and of her good deeds during her life as a nun, so in memory to her he decide to make a new bell. He said that anyone that rings the bell three times and believes in God, his or her wish would come true.
Slovenia is truly magical. Given another opportunity I would definitely visit this country again and explore more.
References: Wikipedia and The Island Bled (www.bled.si)
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