LJUBLJANA, Slovenia -- If Vienna and Budapest married and had a
baby, it would probably look like Ljubljana.
Small but precious, the city, whose name means beloved, is a
melange of baroque facades, cobblestone streets, medieval monuments
and trendy cafes.
Ljubljana has a vibrant and youthful ambience, as it is home to
25,000 university students who study at a variety of colleges and
Although the rest of country can seem extremely homogenous,
Ljubljana residents are proud of their more cosmopolitan attitude
toward diversity, extending hospitality to international artists
and welcoming a bohemian lifestyle.
The city is intersected by a series of canals that are bridged
by wrought iron or stone structures.
As Lake Bled and the coastal resorts are Slovenia's most
prominent tourist draws, most visitors spend no more than a day or
The leading attraction is Ljubljana Castle, which dates back to
the 16th century and only opened to the public 10 years ago.
Slovenes are fond of exercise, and the castle helps them keep
fit by requiring a 150-step climb for a look at its ramparts, where
the hardy are rewarded with views of the Old Town and the
The castle is in the final stages of a 10-year reconstruction,
which makes it an exciting place to explore, as new parts are
revealed on a regular basis.
Along with a souvenir shop that sells traditional crafts, there
are frequent exhibitions at the castle where Slovenian artisans'
works are for sale.
The country is famous for its ironwork; one of the names to look
for is Mihael Krostof, a blacksmith from Maribor who turns iron
into intricate webs of design.