During antiquity, a Roman city called Emona stood in the area. Ljubljana itself was first mentioned in the first half of the 12th century. It was under Habsburg rule from the Middle Ages until the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918. Situated at the middle of a trade route between the northern Adriatic Sea and the Danube region, it was the historical capital of Carniola, a Slovene-inhabited part of the Habsburg Monarchy.
The origin of the city's name is unclear. In the Middle Ages, both the river and the town were also known by the German name Laibach. This name was in official use as an endonym until 1918, and it remains frequent as a German exonym, both in common speech and official use. The city is called in Italian Lubiana and in Latin: Labacum or Aemona For most scholars, the problem has been in how to connect the Slovene and the German names. The origin from the Slavic ljub- "to love, like" was in 2007 supported as the most probable by the linguist Tijmen Pronk, a specialist in comparative Indo-European linguistics and Slovene dialectology, from the University of Leiden. He supported the thesis that the name of the river derived from the name of the settlement. The linguist Silvo Torkar, who specializes in Slovene personal and place names, argued at the same place for the thesis that the name Ljubljana derives from Ljubija, the original name of the Ljubljanica River flowing through it, itself derived from the Old Slavic male name Ljubovid, "the one of a lovely appearance". The name Laibach, he claimed, was actually a hybrid of German and Slovene and derived from the same personal name.
The symbol of the city is the Ljubljana Dragon. It is depicted on the top of the tower of Ljubljana Castle in the Ljubljana coat of arms and on the Ljubljanica-crossing Dragon Bridge (Zmajski most). It symbolizes power, courage, and greatness.
There are several explanations on the origin of the Ljubljana Dragon. According to a Slavic myth, the slaying of a dragon releases the waters and ensures the fertility of the earth, and it is thought that the myth is tied to the Ljubljana Marshes, the expansive marshy area that periodically threatens Ljubljana with flooding. According to the celebrated Greek legend, the Argonauts on their return home after having taken the Golden Fleece found a large lake surrounded by a marsh between the present-day towns of Vrhnika and Ljubljana. It was there that Jason struck down a monster. This monster has evolved into the dragon that today is present in the city coat of arms and flag.
It is historically more believable that the dragon was adopted from Saint George, the patron of the Ljubljana Castle chapel built in the 15th century. In the legend of Saint George, the dragon represents the old ancestral paganism overcome by Christianity. According to another explanation, related to the second, the dragon was at first only a decoration above the city coat of arms. In the Baroque, it became part of the coat of arms, and in the 19th and especially the 20th century, it outstripped the tower and other elements in importance.
Around 2000 BC, the Ljubljana Marshes in the immediate vicinity of Ljubljana were settled by people living in pile dwellings. Prehistoric pile dwellings and the oldest wooden wheel in the world are among the most notable archeological findings from the marshland. These lake-dwelling people lived through hunting, fishing and primitive agriculture. To get around the marshes, they used dugout canoes made by cutting out the inside of tree trunks. Their archeological remains, nowadays in the Municipality of Ig, have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site since June 2011, in the common nomination of six Alpine states.
Later, the area remained a transit point for numerous tribes and peoples, among them the Illyrians, followed by a mixed nation of the Celts and the Illyrians called the Iapydes, and then in the 3rd century BC a Celtic tribe, the Taurisci.
Around 50 BC, the Romans built a military encampment that later became a permanent settlement called Iulia Aemona. This entrenched fort was occupied by the Legio XV Apollinaris. In 452, it was destroyed by the Huns under Attila's orders, and later by the Ostrogoths and the Lombards. Emona housed 5,000–6,000 inhabitants and played an important role during numerous battles. Its plastered brick houses, painted in different colors, were already connected to a drainage system. In the 6th century, the ancestors of the Slovenes moved in. In the 9th century, they fell under Frankish domination, while experiencing frequent Magyar raids. Not much is known about the area during the settlement of Slavs in the period between the downfall of Emona and the Early Middle Ages.
The parchment sheet Nomina defunctorum ("Names of the Dead"), most probably written in the second half of 1161, mentions the nobleman Rudolf of Tarcento, a lawyer of the Patriarchate of Aquileia, who had bestowed a canon with 20 farmsteads beside the castle of Ljubljana (castrum Leibach) to the Patriarchate. According to the historian Peter Štih's deduction, this happened between 1112 and 1125, thus representing the earliest mention of Ljubljana.
Originally owned by a number of possessors, until the first half of the 12th century, the territory south of the Sava where the town of Ljubljana developed gradually became property of the Carinthian family of the Dukes of Sponheim. Urban settlement in Ljubljana started in the second half of the 12th century. At around 1200, market rights were granted to Old Square (Stari trg), which at the time was one of the three districts that Ljubljana originated from. The other two districts were an area called "Town" (Mesto), built around the predecessor of the present-day Ljubljana Cathedral at one side of the Ljubljanica river, and New Square (Novi trg) at the other side. The Franciscan Bridge, a predecessor of the present-day Triple Bridge, and the Butchers' Bridge connected the walled areas with wood-made buildings. Ljubljana acquired the town privileges at some time between 1220 and 1243. Seven fires erupted in the town during the Middle Ages. Artisans organized themselves into guilds. The Teutonic Knights, the Conventual Franciscans, and the Franciscans settled in the town.
In the late 1270, Ljubljana was conquered by King Ottokar II of Bohemia. In 1278, after Ottokar's defeat, it became—together with the rest of Carniola—property of Rudolph of Habsburg. It was administered by the Counts of Gorizia from 1279 until 1335, when it became the capital town of Carniola. Renamed Laibach, it would be owned by the House of Habsburg until 1797. In 1327, the Ljubljana's "Jewish Quarter"—now only "Jewish Street" (Židovska ulica) remains—was established with a synagogue, and lasted until Emperor Maximilian I in 1515 succumbed to medieval antisemitism and expelled Jews from Ljubljana, for which he demanded a certain payment from the town. In 1382, in front of St. Bartholomew's Church in Šiška, at the time a nearby village, now part of Ljubljana, a peace treaty was signed between the Republic of Venice and Leopold III of Habsburg.
In the 15th century, Ljubljana became recognized for its art, particularly painting and sculpture. The Roman Rite Catholic Diocese of Ljubljana was established in 1461 and the Church of St. Nicholas became the diocesan cathedral. After the 1511 Idrija earthquake, the city was rebuilt in the Renaissance style and a new wall was built around it. Wooden buildings were forbidden after a large fire at New Square in 1524.
In the 16th century, the population of Ljubljana numbered 5,000, 70% of whom spoke Slovene as their first language, with most of the rest using German. The first secondary school, public library and printing house opened in Ljubljana. Ljubljana became an important educational center.
From 1529, Ljubljana had an active Slovene Protestant community. After they were expelled in 1598, marking the beginning of the Counter-Reformation, Catholic Bishop Thomas Chrön ordered the public burning of eight cartloads of Protestant books.
In 1597, Jesuits arrived in the city, followed in 1606 by the Capuchins, to eradicate Protestantism. Only 5% of all the residents of Ljubljana at the time were of Catholic confession, so it took quite a while to make it Catholic again. Jesuits organized the first theatrical productions in the town, fostered the development of Baroque music and established Catholic schools. In the middle and the second half of the 17th century, foreign architects built and renovated numerous monasteries, churches, and palaces in Ljubljana and introduced Baroque architecture. In 1702, the Ursulines settled in the town, where, the following year, they opened the first public school for girls in the Slovene Lands. Some years later, the construction of Ursuline Church of the Holy Trinity started. In 1779, St. Christopher's Cemetery replaced the cemetery at St. Peter's Church as the main Ljubljana cemetery.
From 1809 to 1813, during the Napoleonic interlude, Ljubljana (under the name Laybach) was the capital of the Illyrian Provinces. In 1813, the city became Austrian again and from 1815 to 1849 was the administrative center of the Kingdom of Illyria in the Austrian Empire. In 1821, it hosted the Congress of Laibach, which fixed European political borders for years to come. The first train arrived in 1849 from Vienna and in 1857 the line was extended to Trieste.
In 1895, Ljubljana, then a city of 31,000, suffered a serious earthquake measuring 6.1 degrees Richter and 8–9 degrees MCS. Some 10% of its 1,400 buildings were destroyed, although casualties were light. During the reconstruction that followed, a number of districts were rebuilt in the Vienna Secession style. Public electric lighting appeared in the city in 1898. The rebuilding period between 1896 and 1910 is referred to as the "revival of Ljubljana" because of architectural changes from which a great deal of the city dates back to today and for reform of urban administration, health, education and tourism that followed. The rebuilding and quick modernization of the city were led by the mayor Ivan Hribar.
In 1918, following the end of World War I and the dissolution of Austria-Hungary, the region joined the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. In 1929, Ljubljana became the capital of the Drava Banovina, a Yugoslav province.
In 1941, during World War II, Fascist Italy occupied the city, and on 3 May 1941 made Lubiana the capital of an Italian Provincia di Lubiana with the former Yugoslav general Leon Rupnik as mayor. After the Italian capitulation, Nazi Germany with SS-general Erwin Rösener and Friedrich Rainer took control in 1943, but formally the city remained the capital of an Italian province until 9 May 1945. In Ljubljana, the occupying forces established strongholds and command centers of Quisling organisations, the Anti-Communist Volunteer Militia under Italy and the Home Guard under German occupation. Since February 1942, the city was surrounded by barbed wire, later fortified by bunkers, to prevent co-operation between the resistance movement that operated within and outside the fence. Since 1985, the a commemorative trail has ringed the city where this iron fence once stood. Postwar reprisals resulted in a number of mass graves in Ljubljana.
After World War II, Ljubljana became the capital of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia, part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. It retained this status until Slovenia became independent in 1991.
Ljubljana remains the capital of independent Slovenia, which joined the European Union in 2004.
The city, with an area of 163.8 square kilometers (63.2 sq mi), is situated in the Ljubljana Basin in Central Slovenia, between the Alps and the Karst. Ljubljana is located some 320 kilometers (200 mi) south of Munich, 477 kilometers (296 mi) east of Zürich, 250 kilometers (160 mi) east of Venice, 350 kilometers (220 mi) southwest of Vienna, 224 kilometers (139 mi) south of Salzburg and 400 kilometers (250 mi) southwest of Budapest. The extent of Ljubljana has changed considerably in the past 40 years, mainly because some of the nearby settlements have merged with Ljubljana.
The city stretches out on an alluvial plain dating to the Quaternary era. The mountainous regions nearby are older, dating from the Mesozoic (Triassic) or Paleozoic. A number of earthquakes have devastated Ljubljana, including in 1511 and 1895.
Ljubljana has an elevation of 295 meters (968 ft) The city center, located along the Ljubljanica River, has an elevation of 298 meters (978 ft). Ljubljana Castle, which sits atop Castle Hill (Grajski grič) south of the city center, has an elevation of 366 meters (1,201 ft). The highest point of the city, called Grmada, reaches 676 meters (2,218 ft), three m (9.8 ft) more than the nearby Mount Saint Mary (Šmarna gora) peak, a popular hiking destination. These are located in the northern part of the city.
The main watercourses in Ljubljana are the Ljubljanica, the Sava, the Gradaščica, the Mali Graben, the Iška and the Iščica Rivers. From the Trnovo District to the Moste District, around Castle Hill, the Ljubljanica partly flows through the Gruber Canal, built according to plans by Gabriel Gruber from 1772 until 1780. Next to the eastern border of the city, the Ljubljanica, the Sava, and the Kamnik Bistrica Rivers flow together. The lowest point of Ljubljana, with an elevation of 261 meters (856 ft), is located at the confluence.
Through its history, Ljubljana has also been struck by floods. The latest floods took place in 2010. Southern and western parts of the city are more flood-endangered than northern parts. The Gruber Canal has partly diminished the danger of floods in the Ljubljana Marshes, the largest marshes in Slovenia, south of Ljubljana.
There are two major ponds in Ljubljana. Koseze Pond is located in the Šiška District and Tivoli Pond is located in the southern part of Tivoli City Park. Koseze Pond is home to a number of rare plant and animal species and is a popular place of meeting and recreation. Tivoli Pond is a shallow pond with a small volume that was originally used for boating and ice skating, but has been abandoned over the years and is now only used for fishing.
Ljubljana's climate is oceanic (Köppen climate classification "Cfb"), bordering on a humid subtropical climate zone (Köppen climate classification Cfa), with continental characteristics such as warm summers and moderately cold winters. July and August are the warmest months with daily highs generally between 25 and 30 °C (77 and 86 °F), and January is the coldest month with temperatures mostly oscillating around 0 °C (32 °F). The city experiences 90 days of frost per year, and 11 days with temperatures above 30 °C (86 °F). The precipitation is relatively evenly distributed throughout the seasons, although winter and spring tend to be somewhat drier than summer and autumn. Yearly precipitation is about 1,400 mm (55 in), making Ljubljana one of the wettest European capitals. Thunderstorms are very common from May to September and can occasionally be quite heavy. Snow is common from December to February; on average, there are 48 days with snow cover recorded each winter season. The city is known for its fog, which is recorded on average on 64 days per year, mostly in autumn and winter, and can be particularly persistent in conditions of temperature inversion. In summer, the weather in the city is under the influence of Mediterranean air currents, so summers are sunny and warm.
Ljubljana accent and/or dialect ([luːblɑːŋʃnɑː]; as pronounced in the dialect itself) is part of the Upper Carniolan dialect group. The Ljubljana dialect has also been used as literary means in novels, such as in the novel Nekdo drug by Branko Gradišnik, or in poems, such as Pika Nogavička (Slovene for Pippi Longstocking) by Andrej Rozman - Roza.
Ljubljana appears in the 2005 The Historian, written by Elisabeth Kostova, and is called by its Roman name (Emona).
Ljubljana is also the setting of Paulo Coelho's 1998 novel Veronika Decides to Die.
Each year, over 10,000 cultural events take place in the city, including ten international theater, music, and art festivals. The Ljubljana Festival is one of the two oldest festivals in former Yugoslavia (the Dubrovnik Summer Festival was established in 1950, and the Ljubljana Festival one in 1953). Guests have included Dubravka Tomšič, Marjana Lipovšek, Tomaž Pandur, Katia Ricciarelli, Grace Bumbry, Yehudi Menuhin, Mstislav Rostropovich, José Carreras, Slid Hampton, Zubin Mehta, Vadim Repin, Valerij Gergijev, Sir Andrew Davis, Danjulo Išizaka, Midori, Jurij Bašmet, Ennio Morricone, and Manhattan Transfer. Orchestras have included the New York Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestras of the Bolshoi Theatre from Moscow, La Scala from Milan, and Mariinsky Theatre from Saint Petersburg. In recent years there have been 80 different kinds of events and some 80,000 visitors from Slovenia and abroad. Other cultural venues include Križanke, Cankar Hall and the Exhibition and Convention Center. During Book Week, starting each year on World Book Day, events and book sales take place at Congress Square. A flea market is held every Sunday in the old city. On the evening of International Workers' Day, a celebration with a bonfire takes place on Rožnik Hill.
Ljubljana has numerous art galleries and museums. The first purpose-built art gallery in Ljubljana was the Jakopič Pavilion, which was in the first half of the 20th century the central exhibition venue of Slovene artists. In the early 1960s, it was succeeded by the Ljubljana City Art Gallery, which has presented a number of modern Slovene and foreign artists. In 2010, there were 14 museums and 56 art galleries in Ljubljana. There is for example an architecture museum, a railway museum, a school museum, a sports museum, a museum of modern art, a museum of contemporary art, a brewery museum, the Slovenian Museum of Natural History and the Slovene Ethnographic Museum. The National Gallery (Narodna galerija), founded in 1918, and the Museum of Modern Art (Moderna galerija) exhibit the most influential Slovenian artists. In 2006, the museums received 264,470 visitors, the galleries 403,890 and the theatres 396,440. The Metelkova Museum of Contemporary Art (Muzej sodobne umetnosti Metelkova), opened in 2011, hosts various simultaneous exhibitions, a research library, archives, and a bookshop.
Cankar Hall is the largest Slovenian cultural and congress center with multiple halls and a large foyer in which art film festivals, artistic performances, book fairs, and other cultural events are held.
The cinema in Ljubljana appeared for the first time at the turn of the 20th century, and quickly gained popularity among the residents. After World War II, the Cinema Company Ljubljana, later named Ljubljana Cinematographers, was established and managed a number of already functioning movie theaters in Ljubljana, including the only Yugoslav children's theater. A number of cinema festivals took place in the 1960s, and a cinematheque opened its doors in 1963. With the advent of television, video, and recently the Internet, most cinema theaters in Ljubljana closed, and the cinema mainly moved to Kolosej, a multiplex in the BTC City. It features twelve screens, including an IMAX 3D screen. The remaining theaters are Kino Komuna, Kinodvor, where art movies are accompanied by events, and the Slovenian Cinematheque.
The Slovenian Philharmonics is the central music institution in Ljubljana and Slovenia. It holds classical music concerts of domestic and foreign performers as well as educates youth. It was established in 1701 as part of Academia operosorum Labacensis and is among the oldest such institutions in Europe. The Slovene National Opera and Ballet Theatre also resides in Ljubljana, presenting a wide variety of domestic and foreign, modern and classic, opera, ballet and concert works. It serves as the national opera and ballet house. Numerous music festivals are held in Ljubljana, chiefly in European classical music and jazz, for instance the Ljubljana Summer Festival (Ljubljanski poletni festival), and Trnfest.
In addition to the main houses, with the SNT Drama Ljubljana as the most important among them, a number of small producers are active in Ljubljana, involved primarily in physical theatre (e.g. Betontanc), street theatre (e.g. Ana Monró Theatre), theatresports championship Impro League, and improvisational theatre (e.g. IGLU Theatre). A popular form is puppetry, mainly performed in the Ljubljana Puppet Theatre. Theater has a rich tradition in Ljubljana, starting with the 1867 first ever Slovene-language drama performance.
The modern dance was presented in Ljubljana for the first time at the end of the 19th century and developed rapidly since the end of the 1920s. Since the 1930s when in Ljubljana was founded a Mary Wigman dance school, the first one for modern dance in Slovenia, the field has been intimately linked to the development in Europe and the United States. Ljubljana Dance Theatre is today the only venue in Ljubljana dedicated to contemporary dance. Despite this, there's a vivid happening in the field.
Several folk dance groups are active in Ljubljana.
In July 2015, over four days, the 56th Ljubljana Jazz Festival took place. A member of the European Jazz Network, the festival presented 19 concerts featuring artists from 19 countries, including a celebration of the 75th anniversary of James Blood Ulmer.
In the 1980s with the emergence of subcultures in Ljubljana, an alternative culture begun to develop in Ljubljana organized around two student organisations. This caused an influx of young people to the city center, caused political and social changes, and led to the establishment of alternative art centers.
A Ljubljana equivalent of the Copenhagen's Freetown Christiania, a self-proclaimed autonomous Metelkova neighbourhood, was set up in a former Austro-Hungarian barracks that were built in 1882 (completed in 1911).
In 1993, the seven buildings and 12,500 m2 of space were turned into art galleries, artist studios, and seven nightclubs, including two gay venues, playing host to all range of music from hardcore to jazz to dub to techno. Adjacent to the Metelkova are located the Celica Hostel with rooms all artistically decorated by the Metelkova artists, and a new part of the Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Contemporary Art. Another alternative culture center is located in the former Rog factory.
The Šiška Cultural Quarter hosts a number of art groups and cultural organisations dedicated to contemporary and avant-garde arts. Part of it is also Kino Šiška Center for Urban Culture, a venue where music concerts of indie, punk, and rock bands as well as exhibitions take place. Museum of Transitory Art (MoTA) is a museum without a permanent collection or a fixed space. Instead, its programs are realised in different locations and contexts in temporary physical and virtual spaces dedicated to advancing the research, production and presentation of transitory, experimental, and live art forms. Yearly MoTA organizes Sonica Festival. Ljudmila (since 1994) strives to connect research practices, technologies, science, and art.
A tension between German and Slovene residents dominated the development of sport of Ljubljana in the 19th century. The first sport club in Ljubljana was the South Sokol Gymnastic Club (Gimnastično društvo Južni Sokol), established in 1863 and succeeded in 1868 by the Ljubljana Sokol (Ljubljanski Sokol). It was the parent club of all Slovene Sokol clubs as well as an encouragement for the establishment of the Croatian Sokol club in Zagreb. Members were also active in culture and politics, striving for greater integration of the Slovenes from different Crown lands of Austria–Hungary and for their cultural, political, and economic independence.
In 1885, German residents established the first sports club in the territory of nowadays Slovenia, Der Laibacher Byciklistischer Club (Ljubljana Cycling Club). In 1887, Slovene cyclists established the Slovene Cyclists Club (Slovenski biciklistični klub). In 1893 followed the first Slovene Alpine club, named Slovene Alpine Club (Slovensko planinsko društvo), later succeeded by the Alpine Association of Slovenia (Planinska zveza Slovenije). Several of its branches operate in Ljubljana, the largest of them being the Ljubljana Matica Alpine Club (Planinsko društvo Ljubljana-Matica). In 1900, the sports club Laibacher Sportverein (English: Ljubljana Sports Club) was established by the city's German residents and functioned until 1909. In 1906, Slovenes organized themselves in its Slovene counterpart, the Ljubljana Sports Club (Ljubljanski športni klub). Its members were primarily interested in rowing, but also swimming and football. In 1911, the first Slovene football club, Ilirija, started operating in the city. Winter sports started to develop in the area of the nowadays Ljubljana already before World War II. In 1929, the first ice hockey club in Slovenia (then Yugoslavia) SK Ilirija was established.
Nowadays, the city's football team which plays in the Slovenian PrvaLiga is NK Olimpija Ljubljana. Ljubljana's ice hockey clubs are HK Slavija and HK Olimpija. They both compete in the Slovenian Hockey League. The basketball teams are KD Slovan and KK Olimpija. The latter, which has a green dragon as its mascot, hosts its matches at the 12,480-seat Arena Stožice since 2010. AMTK Ljubljana is the most successful speedway club in Slovenia. The Ljubljana Sports Club has been succeeded by the Livada Canoe and Kayak Club.
Each year since 1957, on 8–10 May, the traditional recreational Walk Along the Wire has taken place to mark the liberation of Ljubljana on 9 May 1945. At the same occasion, a triples competition is run on the trail, and a few days later, a student run from Prešeren Square to Ljubljana Castle is held. The last Sunday in October, the Ljubljana Marathon and a few minor competition runs take place on the city streets. The event attracts several thousand runners each year.
The Stožice Stadium, opened since August 2010 and located in Stožice Sports Park in the Bežigrad District, is the biggest football stadium in the country and the home of the NK Olimpija Ljubljana. It is one of the two main venues of Slovenia national football team. The park also has an indoor arena, used for indoor sports such as basketball, handball and volleyball and is the home venue of KK Olimpija, RK Krim and ACH Volley Bled among others. Beside football, the stadium is designed to host cultural events as well. Another stadium in the Bežigrad district, Bežigrad Stadium, is closed since 2008 and is deteriorating. It was built according to the plans of Jože Plečnik and was the home of the NK Olimpija Ljubljana, dissolved in 2004. Joc Pečečnik, a Slovenian multimillionaire, plans to renovate it.
Ljubljana Sports Park is located in Spodnja Šiška, part of the Šiška District. It has a football stadium with five courts, an athletic hall, outdoor athletic areas, tennis courts, a Boules court, and a sand volleyball court. The majority of competitions are in athletics. Another sports park in Spodnja Šiška is Ilirija Sports Park, known primarily for its stadium with a speedway track. At the northern end of Tivoli Park stands the Ilirija Swimming Pool Complex, which was built as part of a swimming and athletics venue following plans by Bloudek in the 1930s and has been nearly abandoned since then, but there are plans to renovate it.
A number of sport venues are located in Tivoli Park. An outdoor swimming pool in Tivoli, constructed by Bloudek in 1929, was the first Olympic-size swimming pool in Yugoslavia. Currently, the Tivoli Recreational Center in Tivoli is Ljubljana's largest recreational center and has three swimming pools, saunas, a Boules court, a health club, and other facilities. There are two skating rinks, a basketball court, a winter ice rink, and ten tennis courts in its outdoor area. The Tivoli Hall consists of two halls. The smaller one accepts 4,050 spectators and is used for basketball matches. The larger one can accommodate 6,000 spectators and is primarily used for hockey, but also for basketball matches. The halls are also used for concerts and other cultural events. The Slovenian Olympic Committee has its office in the building.
The Tacen Whitewater Course, located on a course on the Sava, 8 kilometers (5 miles) northwest of the city center, hosts a major international canoe/kayak slalom competition almost every year, examples being the ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships in 1955, 1991, and 2010.
Since the 1940s, a ski slope has been in use in Gunclje, in the northwestern part of the city. It is 600 meters (2,000 ft) long and has two ski lifts, its maximum incline is 60° and the difference in height from the top to the bottom is 155 meters (509 ft). Five ski jumping hills stand near the ski slope. Several Slovenian Olympic and World Cup medalists trained and competed there. In addition, the Arena Triglav complex of six jumping hills is located in the Šiška District. A ski jumping hill, build in 1954 upon the plans by Stanko Bloudek, was located in Šiška near Vodnik Street (Vodnikova cesta) until 1976. International competitions for the Kongsberg Cup were held there, attended by thousands of spectators. The ice rinks in Ljubljana include Koseze Pond and Tivoli Hall. In addition, in the 19th century and the early 20th century, Tivoli Pond and a marshy meadow in Trnovo, named Kern, were used for ice skating.
Industry remains the most important employer, notably in the pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals and food processing. Other fields include banking, finance, transport, construction, skilled trades and services and tourism. The public sector provides jobs in education, culture, health care and local administration.
The Ljubljana Stock Exchange (Ljubljanska borza), purchased in 2008 by the Vienna Stock Exchange, deals with large Slovenian companies. Some of these have their headquarters in the capital: for example, the retail chain Mercator, the oil company Petrol d.d. and the telecommunications concern Telekom Slovenije. Over 15,000 enterprises operate in the city, most of them in the tertiary sector.
Numerous companies and over 450 shops are located in the BTC City, the largest business, shopping, recreational, entertainment and cultural center in Slovenia. It is visited each year by 21 million people. It occupies an area of 475,000 square meters (5,110,000 sq ft) in the Moste District in the eastern part of Ljubljana.
About 74% of Ljubljana households use district heating from the Ljubljana Power Station.
The city of Ljubljana is governed by the City Municipality of Ljubljana (Slovene: Mestna občina Ljubljana; MOL), which is led by the city council. The president of the city council is called the mayor. Members of the city council and the mayor are elected in the local election, held every four years. Among other roles, the city council drafts the municipal budget, and is assisted by various boards active in the fields of health, sports, finances, education, environmental protection and tourism. The municipality is subdivided into 17 districts represented by district councils. They work with the municipality council to make known residents' suggestions and prepare activities in their territories.
Between 2002 and 2006, Danica Simšič was mayor of the municipality. Since the municipal elections of 22 October 2006 until his confirmation as a deputy in the National Assembly of Slovenian in December 2011, Zoran Janković, previously the managing director of the Mercator retail chain, was the mayor of Ljubljana. In 2006, he won 62.99% of the popular vote. On 10 October 2010, Janković was re-elected for another four-year term with 64.79% of the vote. From 2006 until October 2010, the majority on the city council (the Zoran Janković List) held 23 of 45 seats. On 10 October 2010, Janković's list won 25 out of 45 seats in the city council. From December 2011 onwards, when Janković's list won the early parliamentary election, the deputy mayor Aleš Čerin was decided by him to lead the municipality. Čerin did not hold the post of mayor. After Janković had failed to be elected as the Prime Minister in the National Assembly, he participated at the mayoral by-election on 25 March 2012 and was elected for the third time with 61% of the vote. He retook the leadership of the city council on 11 April 2012.
Public order in Ljubljana is enforced by the Ljubljana Police Directorate (Policijska uprava Ljubljana). There are five areal police stations and four sectoral police stations in Ljubljana. Public order and municipal traffic regulations are also supervised by the city traffic wardens (Mestno redarstvo). Ljubljana has a quiet and secure reputation.
In 1869, Ljubljana had about 22,600 inhabitants, a figure that grew to almost 60,000 by 1931.
At the 2002 census, 39% of Ljubljana inhabitants were Catholic; 30% had no religion, an unknown religion or did not reply; 19% atheist; 6% Eastern Orthodox; 5% Muslim; and the remaining 0.7% Protestant or another religion.
Approximately 91% of the population speaks Slovene as their primary native language. The second most-spoken language is Bosnian, with Serbo-Croatian being the third most-spoken language.
In Ljubljana today there are over 50 public elementary schools with over 20,000 pupils. This also includes an international elementary school for foreign pupils. There are two private elementary schools: a Waldorf elementary school and a Catholic elementary school. In addition, there are several elementary music schools.
Historically the first school in Ljubljana belonged to Teutonic Knights and was established in the 13th century. It originally accepted only boys; girls were accepted from the beginning of the 16th century. Parochial schools are attested in the 13th century, at St. Peter's Church and at Saint Nicholas's Church, the later Ljubljana Cathedral. Since 1291, there were also trade-oriented private schools in Ljubljana. In the beginning of the 17th century, there were six schools in Ljubljana and later three. A girls' school was established by Poor Clares, followed in 1703 by the Ursulines. Their school was for about 170 years the only public girls' school in Carniola. These schools were mainly private or established by the city.
In 1775, the Austrian Empress Maria Theresa proclaimed elementary education obligatory and Ljubljana got its normal school, intended as a learning place for teachers. In 1805, the first state music school was established in Ljubljana. In the time of Illyrian Provinces, "école primaire", a unified four-year elementary school program with a greater emphasis on Slovene, was introduced. The first public schools, unrelated to religious education, appeared in 1868.
Currently in Ljubljana there are ten public and three private grammar schools. The public schools divide into general gymnasiums and classical gymnasiums, the latter offering Latin and Greek as foreign languages. Some general schools offer internationally oriented European departments, and some offer sport departments, allowing students to more easily adjust their sport and school obligations. All state schools are free, but the number of students they can accept is limited. The private secondary schools include a Catholic grammar school and a Waldorf grammar school. There are also professional grammar schools in Ljubljana, offering economical, technical, or artistic subjects (visual arts, music). All grammar schools last four years and conclude with the matura exam.
Historically, upon a proposal by Primož Trubar, the Carniolan Estates' School (1563–1598) was established in 1563 in the period of Slovene Reformation. Its teaching languages were mainly Latin and Greek, but also German and Slovene, and it was open for both sexes and all social strata. In 1597, Jesuits established the Jesuit College (1597–1773), intended to transmit general education. In 1773, secondary education came under the control of the state. A number of reforms were implemented in the 19th century; there was more emphasis on general knowledge and religious education was removed from state secondary schools. In 1910, there were 29 secondary schools in Ljubljana, among them classical and real gymnasiums and Realschules (technical secondary schools).
In 2011, the University had 23 faculties and three academies, located in different parts of Ljubljana. They offer Slovene-language courses in medicine, applied sciences, arts, law, administration, natural sciences, and other subjects. The university has more than 63,000 students and some 4,000 teaching faculty. Students make up one-seventh of Ljubljana's population, giving the city a youthful character.
Historically, higher schools offering the study of general medicine, surgery, architecture, law and theology, started to operate in Ljubljana during the French occupation of the Slovene Lands, in 1810–11. Austro-Hungarian Empire never allowed Slovenes to establish their own university in Ljubljana and the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia's most important university, was founded in 1919 after Slovenes joined the first Yugoslavia. When it was founded, the university comprised five faculties: law, philosophy, technology, theology and medicine. From the beginning, the seat of the university has been at Congress Square in a building that served as the State Mansion of Carniola from 1902 to 1918.
The National and University Library of Slovenia is the Slovene national and university library. In 2011, it held about 1,307,000 books, 8,700 manuscripts, and numerous other textual, visual and multimedia resources, altogether 2,657,000 volumes.
The second largest university library in Ljubljana is the Central Technological Library, the national library and information hub for natural sciences and technology.
The Municipal City Library of Ljubljana, established in 2008, is the central regional library and the largest Slovenian general public library. In 2011, it held 1,657,000 volumes, among these 1,432,000 books and a multitude of other resources in 36 branches. Altogether, there are 5 general public libraries and over 140 specialized libraries in Ljubljana.
Besides the two largest university libraries there are a number of libraries at individual faculties, departments and institutes of the University of Ljubljana. The largest among them are the Central Humanist Library in the field of humanities, the Central Social Sciences Library, the Central Economic Library in the field of economics, the Central Medical Library in the field of medical sciences, and the Libraries of the Biotechnical Faculty in the field of biology and biotechnology.
The first libraries in Ljubljana were located in monasteries. The first public library was the Carniolan Estates' Library, established in 1569 by Primož Trubar. In the 17th century, the Jesuit Library collected numerous works, particularly about mathematics. In 1707, the Seminary Library was established; it is the first and oldest public scientific library in Slovenia. Around 1774, after the dissolution of Jesuits, the Lyceum Library was formed from the remains of the Jesuit Library as well as several monastery libraries.
The first society of the leading scientists and public workers in Carniola was the Dismas Fraternity (Latin: Societas Unitorum), formed in Ljubljana in 1688. In 1693, the Academia Operosorum Labacensium was founded and lasted with an interruption until the end of the 18th century. The next academy in Ljubljana, the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, was not established until 1938.
Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport (IATA code LJU), located 26 kilometers (16 mi) northwest of the city, has flights to numerous European destinations. Among the companies that fly from there are Adria Airways, Air France, Air Serbia, easyJet, Finnair, Montenegro Airlines, Wizz Air and Turkish Airlines. The destinations are mainly European. This airport has superseded the original Ljubljana airport, in operation from 1933 until 1963. It was located in the Municipality of Polje (nowadays the Moste District), on a plain between Ljubljanica and Sava next to the railroad in Moste. There was a military airport in Šiška from 1918 until 1929.
In the Ljubljana Rail Hub, the Pan-European railway corridors V (the fastest link between the North Adriatic, and Central and Eastern Europe) and X (linking Central Europe with the Balkans) and the main European lines (E 65, E 69, E 70) intersect. All international transit trains in Slovenia drive through the Ljubljana hub, and all international passenger trains stop there. The area of Ljubljana has six passenger stations and nine stops. For passengers, the Slovenian Railways company offers the possibility to buy a daily or monthly city pass that can be used to travel between them. The Ljubljana railway station is the central station of the hub. The Ljubljana Moste Railway Station is the largest Slovenian railway dispatch. The Ljubljana Zalog Railway Station is the central Slovenian rail yard. There are a number of industrial rails in Ljubljana. At the end of 2006, the Ljubljana Castle funicular started to operate. The rail goes from Krek Square (Krekov trg) near the Ljubljana Central Market to Ljubljana Castle. It is especially popular among tourists. The full trip lasts 60 s.
Ljubljana is located where Slovenia's two main freeways intersect, connecting the freeway route from east to west, in line with Pan-European Corridor V, and the freeway in the north–south direction, in line with Pan-European Corridor X. The city is linked to the southwest by A1-E70 to the Italian cities of Trieste and Venice and the Croatian port of Rijeka. To the north, A1-E57 leads to Maribor, Graz and Vienna. To the east, A2-E70 links it with the Croatian capital Zagreb, from where one can go to Hungary or important cities of the former Yugoslavia, such as Belgrade. To the northwest, A2-E61 goes to the Austrian towns of Klagenfurt and Salzburg, making it an important entry point for northern European tourists. A toll sticker system has been in use on the Ljubljana Ring Road since 1 July 2008. The center of the city is more difficult to access especially in the peak hours due to long arteries with traffic lights and a large number of daily commuters. The core city center has been closed for motor traffic since September 2007 (except for residents with permissions), creating a pedestrian zone around Prešeren Square.
Historical Ljubljana tram system was completed in 1901 and was replaced by buses in 1928, which were in turn abolished and replaced by trams in 1931 in its final length of 18.5 kilometers (11.5 mi) in 1940, In 1959, it was abolished in favor of automobiles; the tracks were dismantled and tram cars were transferred to Osijek and Subotica. Reintroduction of an actual tram system to Ljubljana has been proposed repeatedly in the 2000s.
The Ljubljana Bus Station, the Ljubljana central bus hub, is located next to the Ljubljana railway station. The city bus network, run by the Ljubljana Passenger Transport (LPP) company, is Ljubljana's most widely used means of public transport. The fleet is relatively modern. The number of dedicated bus lines is limited, which can cause problems in peak hours when traffic becomes congested. Bus rides may be paid with the Urbana payment card (also used for the funicular) or with a mobile phone. Sometimes the buses are called trole (referring to trolley poles), harking back to the 1951–71 days when Ljubljana had trolleybus (trolejbus) service. There were five trolleybus lines in Ljubljana, until 1958 alongside the tram. There are numerous taxi companies in the city, but their services have been evaluated as bad.
Another means of public road transport in the city center is the Cavalier (Kavalir), an electric vehicle operated by LPP since May 2009. There are three such vehicles in Ljubljana. The ride is free and there are no stations because it can be stopped anywhere. It can carry up to five passengers; most of them are elderly people and tourists. The Cavalier drives in the car-free zone in the Ljubljana downtown. The first line links Čop Street, Wolf Street and the Hribar Embankment, whereas the second links Town Square, Upper Square, and Old Square. There is also a tractor with wagons decorated to look like a train for tourists in Ljubljana, linking Cyril and Methodius Square in the city center with Ljubljana Castle.
There is a considerable amount of bicycle traffic in Ljubljana, especially in the warmer months of the year. It is also possible to rent a bike. Since May 2011, the BicikeLJ, a self-service bicycle rental system offers the residents and visitors of Ljubljana 300 bicycles and 600 parking spots at 31 stations in the wider city center area. The daily number of rentals is around 2,500. There was a possibility to rent a bike even before the establishment of BicikeLJ.
There are still some conditions for cyclists in Ljubljana that have been criticized as unfortunate to date. This refers to cycle lanes in poor condition and constructed in a way that motorized traffic is privileged. In contrast to other European capitals, on some of the main streets cycling is forbidden; for example, on part of Slovenska cesta (Slovene Street) and on a new link road on the Fabiani Bridge across the Ljubljanica River connecting Hrvatski trg and Roška cesta. There are also many one-way streets which therefore cannot be used as alternate routes so it is difficult to legally travel by bicycle through the city center. Through years, some prohibitions have been partially abolished by marking cycle lanes on the pavement. Nevertheless, the situation has been steadily improving; in 2015, Ljubljana placed 13th in a ranking of the world's most bicycle-friendly cities.
The river transport on the Ljubljanica and the Sava was the main means of cargo transport to and from the city until the mid-19th century, when railroads were built. Today, the Ljubljanica is used by a number of tourist ships, with wharves under the Butchers' Bridge, at Fish Square, at Court Square, at Breg, at the Poljane Embankment, and elsewhere.
Ljubljana has a rich history of discoveries in medicine and innovations in medical technology. The majority of secondary and tertiary care in Slovenia takes place in Ljubljana. The Ljubljana University Medical Center is the largest hospital center in Slovenia. The Faculty of Medicine (University of Ljubljana) and the Ljubljana Institute of Oncology are other two central medical institutions in Slovenia. The Ljubljana Community Health Center is the largest health center in Slovenia. It has seven units at 11 locations. Since 1986, Ljubljana is part of the WHO European Healthy Cities Network.