Breakfast in the B&B was quite nice, a selection of meats, cheeses, rolls, eggs Euro-style (soft cooked, eaten with a spoon out of the shell), cereal, and yogurt. I got there right when it opened at 7:30; Troy made it down after a few minutes, and it turns out her circadian rhythms were a lot like mine: she hadn't slept much either. After breakfast she decided to go back upstairs to try to sleep some more, so I set out on my own, and we made plans to meet for the Ljubljana Free Tour at 11:00. I explored a charming part of town with a lot of museums and other interesting buildings, and then headed into Tivoli Park. Finally I made my way to Prešeren Square, where Troy was waiting, and the tour began.
And now, gentle reader, I can proceed no longer in my Ljubljana journal without talking about Plečnik.
|Google Doodle from January 23, 2012, Plečnik's 140th birthday, depicting the Triple Bridge|
From libraries, office buildings, cemeteries, and stadiums to landscaping, riverside embankments, and market halls, Plečnik left his mark everywhere. While he may not yet register very high on the international Richter scale of important architects, the Slovenes' pride in this man's work is understandable.
Plečnik returned to Ljubljana in the 1920s and remained here until he died in 1957. After the Communists came to power following World War II, Plečnik fell out of favor and into oblivion. This changed in 1986, when the Pompidou Center in Paris held an exhibition about Plečnik, and today he is celebrated as singularly responsible for having created the Ljubljana of today.
We heard all about Plečnik on the tour and saw a good sampling of his work, but there is so much more, and I wish there were time to see it all. I really became enamored of his work today.
Of course there is more than just Plečnik here. There's a lot of Baroque architecture, and Socialist Realism is also prevalent. I've included a smattering of the highlights here, and there's more in Picasa. Unfortunately, I don't remember what every building was, and not everything I took a picture of was a landmark.
|Citizens holding up the building|
|The Opera and Ballet Theatre|
|The Slovenian Parliament|
|The Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church|
I was struck by the beauty of the space. I don't think I've ever been in an Orthodox church before. The brilliant colors of the iconography covered every wall plus the ceiling. There are no pews: worshipers stand.
|I don't remember what this is, but the columns lead me to guess it might be a Plečnik building|
|The US Embassy. (Rick Steves refers to this as the quaintest Embassy anywhere.)|
|Promenade in Tivoli Garden, designed by Plečnik (the columns are his trademark)|
|Pond in Tivoli Garden|
|Franciscan Church of the Annunciation on Prešeren Square.|
|Triple Bridge (Plečnik), modeled after the Rialto Bridge in Venice, taken from the Butchers' Bridge (also Plečnik)|
|Dragon Bridge. The dragon is the symbol of Ljubljana.|
|Market stalls (Plečnik), viewed from across the Ljubljanica River|
|Ljubljana City Hall|
|Cobblers' Bridge (Plečnik; note the trademark columns)|
|Philharmonic Hall. 1701 marks the founding of the orchestra. The building is later. Gustav Mahler was the orchestra's conductor for one year at the age of 21. There's a sculpture of him nearby.|
|The National and University Library of Slovenia, considered to be one of Plečnik's masterworks|
|Courtyard of the Ljubljana Summer Festival (Plečnik)|
Then we went back to the library to see the interior, which I thought was stunning.
From there we walked back along the river and rode the funicular up the the castle. The views were great, but the castle was nothing to write home about. From inside it doesn't come close to offering a sense of history. (Oops, so much for not writing home about it.)
Passing through the market, I bought some locally-grown strawberries which Troy and I agreed were the best strawberries we'd ever eaten. And never too exhausted to pass up ice cream, we stopped for a treat before heading back to the B&B for a nap. Afterwards, neither of us was very hungry, but we thought we should get something. We decided to go up into "The Skyscraper," Ljubljana's first skyscraper, where there is a bar, but they only had dessert items, so we had a drink and enjoyed the view before heading back into the old town. We settled for Tokyo Piknik because (1) they had smaller dinner items, and (2) they had outdoor seating with heaters, and it was getting chilly. I had Pad Thai that was actually decent. Then we walked back to Prešeren Square and enjoyed a Prekmurska gibanica, the traditional Slovenian dessert I wrote about.
So that was the day. I started this right after I got back to my room, but it's now 06:30 on Tuesday. I've been up since 03:30, so still not back to a good sleep rhythm. After breakfast we're off to Bled and Bohinj.