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Along the Amber Route: Ljubljana

The train pulled in to Ljubljana between gleaming new office buildings. The area around the station had an air of confident modernity, yet there were still many archetypal Balkan faces to be seen, especially on the older men, their long noses curving over ragged, bandit moustaches. I walked up Resteva Cesta under a thin drizzle, past dilapidated Habsburg-era villas, an old-fashioned tailor’s, a bakery and a shop selling religious paraphernalia, until I came to the river. My father must have passed the same way nearly eighty years earlier when, fleeing Italy with his brother Andreas, he arrived in Ljubljana by train. I recall, at his seventieth birthday dinner, him asking Andy whether he remembered how they found lodgings in the city, and would sleep all day to save money on food.

Nestling in the lee of the castle, the Old Town was a graceful assembly of Renaissance and Baroque buildings curving round the banks of the Ljubljanica River, which was spanned by a series of elegant bridges. The city had gone by several names in the course of its history: Emona in Roman times, Laibach during the long centuries of Habsburg rule and, since Yugoslav independence in 1918, by the Slovenian Ljubljana. As at Ptuj, the pre-Roman settlement was on the castle rock, whereas the Roman urbs quadrata was founded on the other side of the river. Emona was destroyed by the Huns in 452, and in the following century the area was settled by the Slavic ancestors of the present population. After several centuries during which the region was contested by the Franks, the Magyars and the Kingdom of Bohemia, it fell to the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf I of Habsburg in 1278.

From Along the Amber Route by C.J. Schüler

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C.J. Schüler

C.J. Schüler