STA, 29 January 2019 - Scoring 60 points, Slovenia ranked 36th among 180 countries in Transparency International's (TI) Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) rankings for 2018, a drop of one point and two spots from 2017, respectively. The country has thus made no major progress since 2012, TI Slovenia said in a release on Tuesday.
Based on independent sources, the CPI ranks the countries according to how corrupt their public sectors are perceived to be.
The countries are ranked by scoring from 0 to 100 points, with 0 meaning the country is perceived as highly corrupt and 100 that it is "very clean".
Commenting on Slovenia's placement, Transparency International (TI) Slovenia and the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption (KPK) highlighted the lack of will for systemic change which would result in a breakthrough in Slovenia.
Both pointed to the slow pace of adopting changes to the law on integrity and the prevention of corruption, with TI noting that after a lengthy government procedure, parliament was dissolved before it discussed them.
"We are waiting for these changes for a long time. Far too long," TI Slovenia boss Alma Sedlar was quoted as saying in a release, urging for systemic measures to effectively prevent corruption as soon as possible, including the changes to the umbrella integrity law.
Her view was fully echoed by the KPK, which however believes the shortcomings could only be eliminated by drafting a brand new law to regulate corruption prevention in a more efficient manner and give it more powers to take adequate action.
The Justice Ministry, meanwhile, responded by saying it would send the changes to the integrity law into government procedure in the first half of the year.
But it noted it was impossible to assess whether the lengthy process of adopting these changes directly affected Slovenia's CPI rankings.
It believes Slovenia has achieved "an expected result", having regularly placed around the 35th spot and having scored 57-61 points.
The ministry also highlighted the fact that the index measured whether the public sector was "perceived" as corrupted, not whether it was actually corrupt.
This reflects the level of trust in institutions promoting the rule of law in fighting corruption (KPK, prosecution or courts), it said.
The ministry also noted it had drafted changes to the criminal procedure law, the purpose of which was also to give law enforcement tools to prosecute corruption.
TI Slovenia boss Sedlar also noted that lobbying, the revolving-door phenomena and the protection of whistleblowers were still waiting to be systemically addressed.
There is also no progress in promoting integrity of top office holders, as parliament has not yet adopted a code of ethics for MPs, said Sedlar, a view also supported by the KPK.
Given that GRECO has urged the code's adoption, Sedlar believes failure to meet international recommendations puts all public institutions in a bad light.
Non-transparent and negligent use of public funds also affects the perception of corruption, TI Slovenia noted.
It also said that a comparison of the CPI and other indicators showed countries where press freedom was not guaranteed ranked lower.
There is also a link between the CPI and how much space civil society groups have to carry out their activity.
In its response to Slovenia's slipping two spots, the KPK said this exposed decision-makers' failure to act when institutions in charge discovered corruption.
"Thus not even flagrant cases such as the TEŠ 6 coal-fired power station have been addressed by the government and parliament in a manner that would reflect their zero tolerance to corruption," the KPK added.
Out of Slovenia's neighbours, only Austria placed higher on the CPI rankings, at 17th spot, while Italy placed 57th, Croatia 63rd and Hungary 64th.
Among the least corrupt countries in the world in 2018 were Denmark, which scored 88.1 points, New Zealand with 87.2 and Finland with 85.3.
The countries at the bottom are those where a war is raging or has ended, with Somalia placing 180th with 10 points.
STASTA, 29 January 2019 - Slovenia has slid one spot in the Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) compiled by the Insead Business School, Adecco temping agency and Tata Communication. The country ranks 29th out of 125 countries included in the survey, a spot down from 2018 and four spots down from the first GTCI index in 2013.
Slovenia scored 54.44 points, more than 27 points less than Switzerland, which tops the ranking. Yemen, placing last, got a score of 11.97 points.
While 29th overall, Slovenia ranks 19th in Europe. Interestingly, it is also one spot ahead of South Korea.
It ranks 38th in terms of enabling talent, 47th in terms of attracting talent from abroad, 34th in growing its own talent and 27th in terms of retaining talent.
The index also compares cities, with Ljubljana ranking 50th, after finishing 49th last year. This is the second time Ljubljana was included in the ranking of cities.
Adecco Slovenija said in a press release on Tuesday that there was a lot of room for improvement in terms of Ljubljana's connectivity to airports and simplification of hiring.
Readers may remember last year, when roadworks on Gosposvetska Street in Ljubljana uncovered a Roman cemetery (as reported here). Now archaeologists are starting to report on their findings in more detail, as seen in a new story from National Geographic. The article, which is titled "Archaeologists puzzle over mystery woman in early Christian cemetery" and can be read here, contains some excellent photographs of the excavation site and artefacts, as well as a brief account of Emona, the Roman city that was on the site of today’s Ljubljana. Of special interest is a 1,700-year old blue glass bowl, “decorated on the outside with grapes, and vine leaves and tendrils. A Greek inscription on the inside of the bowl instructs the owner to “Drink to live forever, for many years!””
Items from the Gosposvetska are now on display at Ljubljana City Museum, and from February 2 to March 31 (2019) you’ll be able to see the blue bowl yourself, as seen in the screenshot of the Museum's website below.
STA, 28 January 2019 - The Ljubljana municipality plans to increase the prices of several services provided by its companies, including public transport, parking fees in the city centre, and cemetery fees.
A single bus ticket would go up by 10 cents to 1.30 euro, Mayor Zoran Janković said at the city's news conference on Monday.
The city also intends to introduce an annual public transport pass, which would cost 365 euro, and an annual pass for pensioners, to cost 220 euro.
If the new prices are endorsed by the city council in February, they would take effect in April or May, the mayor said.
Peter Horvat, director of the city's public transport company LPP, said the goal was not to increase prices but the number of public transport users and the number of bus pass holders, from 70% at the moment to 90%.
Javni Holding Ljubljana director Zdenka Grozde said the services provided by Ljubljana's companies were of very high quality, comparable to other European cities.
"To attain such top quality services, investments into development, technology and infrastructure are needed," she said, thus revealing the reason for the price rises.
She said LPP had bought 168 new buses since 2007, which cost it 42 million euro, but had not changed ticket prices for eight years.
A rise in parking fees for parking lots in the city centre (zone one and two) by 10 centres per hour and in car parks operated by Ljubljana is also planned.
The hourly parking fee for the car park below Congress Square and for the Kozolec car park is to rise to 1.50 euro.
According to David Polutnik from the city's economy and transport department, this is to reduce the number of commuters in the city centre.
Mateja Duhovnik, who heads the company running the city's parking spaces, said parking fees in others zones would not change nor would they change for Ljubljana residents in car parks.
Meanwhile, the fee for a grave at Ljubljana's main cemetery is to rise by 10%.
Žale director Robert Martinčič said the city had intensively invested into expanding its cemeteries over the past few years, "which means we'll have new grave areas which will need maintenance".
If the first mountaineering successes took place in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the second half of the latter saw the emergence of mountaineering organisations, which built mountain huts, marked and maintained trails, and brought mountaineering closer to the broader public.
Friends of Triglav
On Triglav, the first mountain hut (called Triglav Temple) was built in 1869 by Jože Škantar at the initiative of the local chaplain, Ivan Žan. The hut was part of the plan to establish the first Slovenian mountaineering organisation by some of the locals of Bohinj, who also sought to register the first Slovenian alpinist club, Friends of Triglav, in 1872. Unfortunately, just as the authorities returned the papers, demanding a change in the place of registration from ‘Bohinj’ to one of the villages in the area, Ivan Žan was transferred from Bohinj to Škofja Loka, and the six-day deadline to fix the problem was missed.
The aforementioned Triglav temple, a simple wooden hut, standing at the elevation of 2,401 metres, managed to defy the devastating forces of nature for about five years. Then, in 1877, Jože Škantar together with his son erected another, much stronger building, which was taken over by the merged German and Austrian climbing clubs (Deutscher und Österreichischer Alpenverein, DÖAV), and therefore also carried a German name, that is, Triglav Hütte. In 1911 Triglav Hütte became a property of the Austrian Tourist Club, which changed its name to Maria Theresien Haus and enlarged into its current size. The building changed its name again in between the World Wars, when it was called the Alexander hut. Only after the Second World War did the hut finally got its currently neutral name, Dom Planika (Edelweiss hut).
Pipe club and the Slovenian Mountaineering Society
Two decades passed before another attempt at a Slovenian mountaineering society (Slovensko planinsko društvo, SPD), which was finally formed in 1893. Meanwhile, trails and huts in the mountains were built and maintained by German and Austrian clubs for German and Austrian mountaineers.
In 1892, six Slovenian mountaineers from Ljubljana met at the Rožnik restaurant at the top of the Ljubljana hill with the same name, where they founded an informal club called Pipa (Pipe), since one of the many rules, most of them hardly to be taken seriously, was that all of its members had to be equipped with pipes, tobacco and matches, along the rule that members had to visit one of Slovenia’s mountains every Sunday, or at least walk to the top of Rožnik. They also put together a single copy of one issue of a newspaper with jokes and mountaineering stories, which was kept at the Rožnik restaurant for its members to read free of charge, while other visitors had to pay in order to do so.
Pipa club trip to Triglav, 1894
On one of their trips, Pipa members discussed the problem of German domination of their activity in the Slovenian mountains, which eventually resulted in the Slovenian mountaineering society, or Slovensko Planinsko Društvo (SPD hereafter), which was formally established in 1893 in Ljubljana. Numerous branches of this society emerged in other parts of the country in the years to follow, including its Radovljica branch in 1895, where one of the constitutive members was also a local priest – Jakob Aljaž, a name that still lives on the summit.
SPD begun marking the mountain trails and building its own huts, which Germans called huts of defiance, since they were often built just a few metres away from the German ones. From this defiance came the idea of Jakob Aljaž to purchase the top of Triglav and decorate it with a tower which would eventually bear the first writing in the Slovenian language in the entire Triglav massif area: Aljažev stolp.
The tower was designed by Aljaž himself, and manufactured by his friend, tinsmith Anton Belec from Šentvid (Ljubljana) in 1895. The tower was a metal cylinder with a metal flag bearing the year of its construction stuck to the top.
Parts were taken by train to Mojstrana and carried to the top of Triglav by a group of six strong men over a span of one week. It was then to be put together by Aljaž, Belec and three assistants. On the night of their final climb to the mountain the five rested in Deschmannhaus, one of the three huts on Triglav at the time, all run by the Carniolan section of the DÖAV, which fought against any bilingual signs on the mountain and also prioritised German climbers over Slovenian ones when they were looking for shelter in their mountain huts.
However, foggy weather cleared the mountain, which meant that the group could work at the top without being disturbed by potentially outraged bystanders. The fog, however, also meant that Aljaž decided not to climb to the summit but rather to “supervise” the construction from below by listening to the sounds of the hammers hitting brass. The tower was standing after about five hours of such work.
Once the tower was discovered the DÖAV was enraged and demanded its removal in a legal battle that was based on a claim that Aljaž had destroyed a triangulation point, which allegedly stood at the tower’s location. Aljaž on the other hand claimed that no such trig point was ever in the tower’s location, apart from a wooden pyramid which had been placed at the top 40 years earlier and destroyed by weather long before the tower was erected. His claims were eventually confirmed by a key witness, Captain Schwartz, who later asked Aljaž to allow a trig point’s information pergament to be placed under the tower, carrying information about its coordinates and the elevation point of its top, which effectively brought the tower under the Emperor’s protection. Later on Aljaž donated the tower to the SDP.
With the tower also came a song, which became the SDP’s official anthem. In 1894 a poem Slavin, written by Matija Zemljič, caught Jakob Aljaž’s eye, so he wrote music for it after which it became known as Oj, Triglav, moj dom. It has since been adopted as the official anthem of the Slovenian Mountaineering Association, and also serves as a basis for the fanfares starting and ending the Ski Jumping FIS Finals in Planica.
With the tower at the top Triglav thus became the main symbol of the Slovenian national identity.
Meanwhile, a struggle of another kind had emerged. SDP and its touristic culture of walking to the top of a mountain became too small to accommodate the emerging new culture of alpinism within one group. The peak of Triglav may have been conquered, but the battle for domination now opened at the mountain’s northern face, also known as Triglav’s northern wall.
Vrata Valley with Triglav’s Northern Wall, Photo: Javier Sanchez Portero, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.0
STA, 28 January 2019 - Slovenia appears to be increasingly appealing to foreign students with data from the country's four publicly-funded universities showing they represent 6% of all students. Most of them come from SE Europe.
Of the 65,640 students enrolled at the four universities this academic year, 3,936 are foreigners. Their share thus rose to over 6% from 4.5% in the previous academic year.
Commenting on the data, Miha Zupančič from the Student Organisation (ŠOS) says that foreign students are attracted by the low study costs, good standard of living, the universities' reputation and quality courses.
Most foreign students come from the region of the former Yugoslavia; Macedonia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia, and EU countries, as well as from far-away countries such as the US and Canada.
Most foreign students enrol at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia's oldest and largest university. Over the past five years, their number increased from 2,113 to 2,389, so they represent 6.3% of more than 38,000 students there.
The University of Maribor has been seeing similar trends with a similar proportion of foreign students. Their number has risen from 664 five years ago to 920.
By far the largest proportion of foreign students are enrolled at the University of Primorska, rising from 3.7% or 213 foreign students to almost 12% or 572 this academic year.
"The percentage of foreign students is an indicator of the university's international orientation and when it reaches the 10% threshold we can say the university is internationalised," university official Mirella Baruca has told the STA.
The University of Nova Gorica, a private publicly funded institution, enrolled 50 foreign students this academic year. Most of them come from Italy across the border and from former Yugoslav countries.
Most foreign students study economics, and electrical and computer engineering. At the University of Primorska, most foreigners enrol in mathematics, natural sciences and information technology classes.
The universities are increasingly involved in student exchange programmes, mainly through Erasmus+, where the share of mobile students is about 5%.
The University of Ljubljana has 2,122 foreign students on exchange this year. ŠOU data show that most such students come from Spain and Portugal.
"Slovenia is interesting for foreign students because it offers a diversity and beauty of nature in a small area. The colleges are known abroad, they like the people, their friendliness and openness," Mitja Zorič, head of the ŠOU Ljubljana international cooperation department, has told the STA.
Completing their exchange, they would tell you that Slovenia, and Ljubljana in particular, is "designed for Erasmus", being small as well as large, with well organised student dorms, meals, public transport.
What foreign students like best is subsidised meals at restaurants, "they cannot believe the meals are so cheap", Zorič says. They also like the night life and the country's location as a gateway for travel.
STA, 27 January 2019 - Slovenia is marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day, with events coming up in Ljubljana, Lendava and Ptuj today after having already been held around the country earlier this week. University professor Maca Jogan says that remembering Holocaust is important for distinguishing between the perpetrators and victims.
Jogan, professor emeritus from the University in Ljubljana who was the keynote speaker at a memorial ceremony in Ljubljana's Kino Šiška last Sunday, told the STA that equalising the perpetrators with those who suffered under them and fought against them needed to end.
The line between the two sides is being blurred in Slovenia since the 1990s by "all sorts of quasi journalists and then politicians", who wrap it in the language of tolerance.
"Anti-Semitism (with Jews as target) has been replaced in Slovenia in the last three decades with anticommunism (with Partisans as targets and perceived as criminals)," Jogan said.
All our stories on Jewish Slovenia can be found here
This also explains the results of an Eurobarometer survey published earlier this week, which showed that in Slovenia "only" 12% of respondents see anti-Semitism as a problem, while in the EU the share stands at about 50%.
The current situation should be addressed through education and remembrance of concrete victims, concrete perpetrators and concrete circumstances that had led to the crimes of Holocaust. "These were not just political or ideological, there was a big industry behind it."
In education, the danger is to reduce the Holocaust to the suffering of Jews and the Roma, Jogan said, pointing to Italy, where they spoke only of the crimes of Germans against Italians.
She also noted that a number of indicators showed that Israel was monopolising the right to Holocaust remembrance. "This is not acceptable, because overall the number of Jewish victims was lower than of all other victims combined."
In Slovenia, a series of cultural and educational events remembering Holocaust victims is held in January every year.
President Borut Pahor labelled the Second World War the "biggest aberration from moral standards in human history" as he addressed the main ceremony marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day in Maribor on Friday.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorates the genocide by the Nazi regime and its collaborators which resulted in the deaths of an estimated six million Jewish people, five million Slavs, thousands of Roma people, thousands of mentally and physically disabled people, and thousands homosexuals.
Some 63,000 Slovenians were taken to Nazi and Fascist concentration camps during the Second World War and 12,000 of them never returned home.
27 January commemorates the day when Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration and death camp, was liberated by the Red Army.
Between 1.1 and 1.5 million people, Jews and members of 26 other nations, mostly Slavic, including 1,700 Slovenians, died in Auschwitz during the war either in gas chambers or during scientific experiments.
The UN declared 27 January International Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2005 and Slovenia has been observing it since 2008.
On the global level, this year's Holocaust Remembrance Day is marked by calls for human rights protection.
The streets are empty in Ljubljana at the moment, making the Old Town look like an abandoned movie set at times. And while it's nice to be able walk around with ease and get seats in cafes it can seem rather lifeless, which is why it's a good idea to go out with a plan rather than relying on street performers, tour groups and serendipity to provide the entertainment. The biggest event this week is probably the MENT festival of independent / alternative music, taking place at venues around town, with more details in the live music section below. There's also a major new show opening at the Moderna galerija's Tivoli branch this Thursday night, on young Slovene painters, where you'll find me stroking my chin and wondering if there's a free bar from 20:00 on - see a couple of the featured works in the museums and galleries section.
If you're in town and it's not the week of January 28 - Feb 03 2019, then you can see the latest edition of this guide here.
Want to hang out with people who love science? Then consider going to Science Bites at 19:00 on Tuesday, January 29. This regular event will be held at ŽMAUC, not far from the Filozofska fakulteta, and three scientists will give three talks in English introducing their work, with details here, and our interview with one of the people behind the series here.
As ever, clicking on the venue names in the list below should get you more details with regard to the time, price and location, as well as other events on at this place in whatever week you're here. Finally, if there's something you want to promote in a future edition of What's on in Ljubljana please get in touch with me at flanner(at)total-slovenia-news.com
You can read about all the cinemas in town here, while a selection of what’s playing this week is below, and note that kid’s movies tend to be shown in dubbed versions, so do check before driving out to a multiplex and dropping off the young ones if they can't understand Slovene. Parents should also pay attention to Kinobalon, which is Kinodvor's regular weekend series of film screenings and events for children, from babies on up, with special parent/child events, "first time in a cinema" screenings, and babysitting. Learn more about it here, and see the current schedule here.
Kinodvor – The arts cinema not far from the train station is showing, among other features, The Old Man & the Gun, Maria by Callas, Women at War, Climax¸ Todos lo saben and Green Book.
Kinoteka – It’s a feast for fans of Lars von Trier this week, with Breaking the Waves, Idioterne, and Dancer in the Dark, while if you’re looking for something from the Japanese legend Beat Takeshi then you can enjoy (in Japanese, with Slovene subs) Hana-bi and Zatôichi. Check out the actor, writer, director who also works as a TV host and comic below.
Kolosej - New at the multiplex in BTC this week are Papillion, Taksi bluz, Serenity, Climax, a dubbed version of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, and on Thursday Christian Bale as Dick Cheney in Vice. Staying on are Mary Queen of Scots, Glass, The Mule, The Favourite, The Upside, Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2, of Asterix: Le secret de la potion magique, Second Act, Južni veter, Bumblebee, Second Act, Aquaman, a dubbed version of Spider Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Robin Hood, The Grinch, Johnny English 3, A Star is Born and the #1 box office film of 2018 in Slovenia, Bohemian Rhapsody
Komuna – The cinema in a basement behind Nama department store is showing Bohemian Rhapsody, A Star is Born and Mary Queen of Scots.
Compared to some European capitals it can seem that nightlife in Ljubljana ends rather early, especially along the river, but there are still bars that stay open late and clubs were you can dance until dawn, and perhaps the best place to stumble across something interesting is the legendary Metelkova. Be aware it's a grungy kind of place and not for all tastes, but also that there's considerable variety to found within the various clubs there, from death metal to electropop, gay cabaret to art noise. You can read "the rules" of the place here.
Channel Zero – Monday night there’s Domaćica Original: Dj CLASH, with reggae, dancehall, drum’n’bass, ska, dub and so on. A Dub Lab project.
Gala Hala – MENT arrives in Metelkova on Friday with HyperboloidNight, with sounds from A.Fruit, Bad Zu, Raumskaya, Saburov and Summer of Haze.
Klub Cirkus – Friday dress for the UV with BLACK MOON – UV Gathering #6, with sounds from LVN x TIM BLACK. Saturday it’s an all-nighter with El Fuego, playing Latino flavoured pop, r&b, dance, reggaeton, Latin house, tropical, and island beats, with the music from Matthew Z & DJ Papi.
Klub K4 – Friday it’s K4xMENT with Batu_music, Lawrence Le Doux, JANKA, Mistakes, TizTiz, Staša and Krilc. Saturday there’s an all-nighter called Knauf, with music from RSN, Shekuza and Tritch.
Orto Bar – Saturday night there’s a DJ show paying tribute to the longest working act in rock’n’roll, The Rolling Stones, with DJ Martin13 playing music from the band and related artists.
The MENT festival runs from January 30 to February 1 and has at least 75 performers on stages around town, including the Castle, Kino Šiška, Orto Bar, Old Power Plant, Celica, Gromka, Gala Hala, Channel Zero and Menza pri koritu . The schedule is here and has links to all the artists, including shishi, from Lithuania.
Cankerjev dom – As part of the Cankarjevi torki (Tuesday Clubbing) series the stage will be given over to Bombyx Lori and the Jimmy Barka Experience on Tuesday the 29th. The same night the pianist Richard Goode will also be in the country’s main arts centre, playing JS Bach, Beethoven, Berg and Chopin, including the following piece.
Channel Zero – Saturday there’s Snovonne from Slovakia playing rock / metal.
Orto Bar – Tuesday belongs to metal, with the entertainment coming from Brainstorm, Mob Rules, and Gloryful. Saturday then sees a live show from Blasius.
Slovenska filharmonija – Saturday morning, 11:00, there’s a family concert of the Ugly Duckling, while at 19:00 the same day there’s another new year show, this one called Quiet Please!, with a programme of Strauss, Xenakis, Ligeti and others, including the piece after this text. Sunday there’s the Trobilni Quintet and Martin Belić.
Gledališče IGLU - IGLU Theatre – Saturday night this group is usually putting on an Englishimprov show somewhere in town, but it’s generally promoted after this is written, so check the Facebook before putting on your shoes.
Klub Gromka – Wednesday night there’s poetry and music with an event called IGNOR 21.
Sena Flora is a new store selling CBD products downtown (more)
Harm reduction and drug testing
Drogart is an organization that aims to minimise harm on the party scene, and offers drug-testing services and reports on their webpage. It’s in Slovene, but you can Google translate it or work things out yourself, and our story on the group is here. They recently published a story warning about three pills with very high contents of MDMA, with details (in Slovene) here. Also be aware that all the usual drugs are illegal in Slovenia
Eating ice cream in winter in Ljubljana - learn more about some of the options downtown here. Photo: Gelateria Romantika
Things to do with children
You can find our Top 12 list of things to do with kids in Ljubljana here. If want to read more about the philosophy behind the wonderful House of Experiments look here, while our trip to the Museum of Illusions is documented here, and there’s always riverside walks, pizza and ice cream. With regard to the latter, take a look at our guide tosix places that serve good ice cream in winter.
Mini Teater Ljubljana – The season sees a lot of puppet performances for children, in Slovene, at this theatre not far from Križanke. The English schedule for the month is here.
Ljubljana Puppet Theatre - The puppet theatre near the Central Market and next to the Castle funicular has a full programme or shows, for children and adults, with the schedule here.
If you want to learn more about Ljubljana Pride, then take a look at our interview with its president here. If you're looking for more general links on "gay Slovenia", including a history of the scene and various projects, then you can find that here, while our stories about the community can be found here.
Klub Tiffany – And the gay bar next door is also open on Fridays, while every Monday until June 2019 there's tango at 18:00. Monday 19:15 there’s also LFU: delavnica radikalne skrbi zase, while 20:00 Thursday there’s Tiffany ARTikulacija: Pogovor z umetnikom Xiyadiejem.
Pritličje – This seems to be the only "always open" LGBT-friendly cafe / bar / events space in town, and perhaps the country, so it's a good thing it's such a good one, open from morning to night, and with fliers and posters letting you know what's happening outside the narrow confines of, say, a general interest online what's on... guide.
Screenshot from Google Maps, showing the location of the Castle vineyard
The city’s main attraction is said to be the top tourist draw in the country overall, and to my mind it earns a spot near the top just for the history and views. But beyond that the current owners, the City of Ljubljana, have laid out a varied, interesting and enjoyable programme of events, one that rewards regular revisits.
I try and get up there every Saturday morning to clear my head and move my feet on the trails, and never tire of that end of the hill. At the other end, where the Castle sits, there’s a lot more than fresh air on offer. There are guided tours, restaurants, a café, Castle museum, puppet museum, a Watchtower you can climb to the highest point in the city, art shows, dances, live music, movies under the stars, festival days and more – enough to reward multiple trips up the hill through the year. All of these activities and events can be found on the Castle website, while on TSN you can see “25 things to know about Ljubljana Castle” here, and “Ten Ways to Enjoy Ljubljana Castle” here.
Museums and galleries
Most public galleries and museums are closed on Mondays, although not the National Museum.
Plečnik's desk. Photo: JL Flanner
Plečnik’s House is worth a visit if you want to learn more about the architect who gave Ljubljana much of its character. Read about our guided tour here.
City Museum – The Museum in French Revolution Square also has an exhibition on the writer Ivan Cankar that’s on until the end of February 2019, with pictures, books and manuscripts, all presented in Slovene and English. It also has a very interesting permanent exhibition on the history of Ljubljana, from prehistoric times to the present day, with many artefacts, models and so on that bring the story alive.You can read about my visit here. Until March 2019 there's a show highlighting the work Elza Kastl Obereigner (1884-1973), a pioneer Slovenian sculptress, with an example of her work shown below.
Photo: M Paternoster
The Faces of Ljubljana in the City Museum. Photo: JL Flanner
International Centre of Graphic Arts – Running from Friday until March 3 2019 there will be a show of posters from Milton Glaser, while paintings, drawings, prints and from Nathalie Du Pasquier in a show called Fair Game. The latter is being promoted with the following image.
MAO – The Museum of Architecture and Design has much of what you'd expect, and until March 25, 2019, has a show on Ljubljana and it's relation with water. Until February 24 visitors can enjoy Toasted Furniture, which presents some experiments with the reuse of plastic waste, and until February 28 there's a show on Oskar Kogoj and his chairs.
Moderna galerija – The main branch of this gallery, to be found near the entrance to Tivoli Park, has a good collection of modern art, as well a nice café in the basement. Running until March 31 is a major show on young Slovenian painters, Time Without Innocence – Recent Painting in Slovenia, where you’ll see works like the following.
Iva Tratnik, Mating Season Totalitarianism, 2014, oil on canvas, 210 x 194 cm
Tina Dobrajc, The Balkan Saga II, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 200 x 150 cm
National Gallery – The country’s main gallery has “the best” of what’s on offer from the Middle Ages to non-contemporary modern visual arts, and is in a great location for exploring other areas, just by Tivoli Park and opposite the main branch of the Moderna galerija. Running until February 10 2019 is a show called Ivana Kobilca (1861-1926): But Of Course, Painting Is Something Beautiful!, featuring works like the one below. You can read about our visit to the room containing sacred art from the Middle Ageshere, and see a picture from our trip after the two girls.
National Museum of Slovenia – There’s plenty to see in the permanent collection here, from Roman times, Egypt and more, with the big draw this season being the exhibition of over 140 items of gold from Ming Dynasty China, as reported here, and with an example below. This runs until February 15th.
Photo: Wang Wei Chang
Meanwhile, the museum's Metelkova branch, located between one branch of the Moderna galerija and the Ethnographic Museum has some rooms on Church art, furniture and weapons, with the latter including more guns than you'll see anywhere else in town, and quite a thrill if coming from a nation where such objects are not household items.
Natural History Museum – On until the end of June 2019 is Our Little Big Sea, which takes a look at the oceans.
Union is "the Ljubljana beer", but now both it and Laško are owned by Heineken. There are many local brews on offer around town, though, if you want to explore IPAs, stouts, wheatbeers, sours and so on Photo: JL Flanner
Union Experience – The Ljubljana-based brewer has a museum showing the history of the company, with the ticket also including access to part of the factory and a few samples of the product. You can read about our visit here.
It's not a formal museum, but if you're interested in "Yugo-stalgia" then you'll enjoy a trip to Verba, a small, privately run space that's crammed with objects and pop culture items from the era, and is conveniently located at the start of one of the short walks to the castle. It's also a great place to take pictures, if you leave a donation, and you can read more about it here.
Verba. Photo: JL Flanner
Alternative Ljubljana isn't a museum or gallery, as such, but instead turns the city streets into a museum and gallery. Learn more about their tours of street art, history and LGBT Ljubljanahere.
Photo: JL Flanner
Other things to do in Ljubljana
If you'd like to spend an evening painting with others, then take a look at Design with Wine, which organises painting parties on Trubarjeva cesta,
If you want to see some antiques, then check out the wonderful Antika Carniola, as discussed here. The man behind it, Jaka Prijatelj, has a fine eye for life on this street, as you can see on his Facebook account.
Photo: JL Flanner
If you’re in town and want to go jogging or walking in nature, why not take another look at the Castle, with a brief guide to the trails here. If you want something bigger, head to Tivoli Park.
And if you're bored with the Old Town, why not take a walk, cycle or boat ride to nearby Špica and enjoy the riverside life. Learn more about that here.
There are some golf courses near Ljubljana, but even ones further away are not far, as seen in our list of all the golf courses in Slovenia. Note that these close when the snow starts, if it ever does this year, in which case you might be interested in what's new at Slovenia's ski resorts for 2019, as reported here.
If you want to get a Ljubljana Tourist Card, which gives you travel on the city buses and entry to a lot of attractions, then you can read more about that here, and if you want to use the bike share system, as useful for visitors as it is for residents, then you can learn more by clicking this. Visitors with reduced mobility will be pleased to find that downtown Ljubljana is generally rated as good with regard to accessibility, and that there’s a free, city-sponsored app called Ljubljana by Wheelchair highlighting cafés, attractions and so on with ramps, disabled bathrooms and Eurokey facilities, which you can read about and download here. If you’re driving into town and don’t know where to part, our guide to how to park in Ljubljana is here.
There aren't many places to eat after midnight, and most of them are by the train station, as reported here.
Strains of marijuana that are high in THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) remain illegal in Slovenia, if widely tolerated, and although medical marijuana is allowed it remains highly regulated. One part of the marijuana market does seem to be growing in the open here is that for low THC high CBD (cannabidiol) strains, which can be found in a growing number of products and outlets. Still, if you’re looking for some natural calm in downtown Ljubljana then things are not so easy. A few health food stores and pharmacies stock CBD products, but specialists are hard to find.
Blink, and you'll miss it. Between Reformator and Optika, opposite the umbrella store
It was thus with great interest that I came across a small store almost hidden on Trubarjeva cesta, a hole in the wall place that from the outside gave no clear indication of what it was selling. This is Sena Flora, a venture that was started late last year by two brothers with the aim of selling top quality CBD products online and in person. Always on the lookout for a story, I came away with the following…
What products do you sell, what are the ranges of CBD content, and how are each aimed at different users?
Currently we are selling CBD flowers (CBD <10%), CBD hash (CBD <20%), CBD crème, CBD chocolate, CBD oil 3% / 5% / 10%, CBD oil for pets, CBD paste 20% / 30%, and CBD crystals.
Our flowers and hash are aroma products. Their concentration of CBD is much higher than in regular strains, while the content of THC is in line with the legally allowed limit. People who buy it are amazed by the incredible smell. These products are all grown absolutely organic and without the use of pesticides.
CBD oil and paste is usually bought by people who are looking for a very effective supplement that supports the balance of their inner body. CBD has a multitude of positive effects according to a great number of medical studies.
Among customers who complain about skin related issues our CBD crème is definitely the top seller.
We also have a specific line of CBD oil for pets that ensures our doggies feel happy and peaceful.
During research into the cannabinoids found in plants scientists discovered the human endocannabinoid system. This system is broadly spread throughout the human body and works in cooperation with a multitude of organs. So when cannabinoids are consumed they unfold effects in all those areas of the body. According to studies, this is also the reason why so many different health-related issues could be treated with CBD. Studies published in The British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology noted CBD’s capability of relieving pain and reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. The authors also point out a number of other highly interesting effects: alleviation of cancer-related symptoms, reduction of acne, neuroprotection and benefits for heart health.
It is important to know, though, that CBD is still seen as a supplementary product in the EU. Therefore, CBD is not a substitute for the medical treatment of health related issues.
Are there any articles or books you’d recommend if people want to learn more about CBD?
A book we recommend is CBD - A Patient's Guide to Medicinal Cannabis. Healing without the High by Leonard Leinow et al. It is the most comprehensive publication on the science and therapeutic use of cannabinoids yet produced. It extensively covers the science of cannabinoid chemistry and the endocannabinoid system, and is supported by more than four hundred peer-reviewed research articles.
We opened in November 2018 and are the first store of this kind in the city. What makes us unique is that we have a doctor inside our store – myself – who has spent a huge amount of time on the study of CBD and cannabinoids in general. I haven’t heard of any other cannabis store where that’s the case. People love that they can get professional advice related to CBD and do not have to rely on untrustworthy brochures or promotional material. The depth of his knowledge leaves a strong impression.
You’re a doctor and your brother is an economist and jurist, this seems like the ideal combination for such a store. How have your backgrounds informed your work here, and what new skills have you had to learn?
We certainly have to learn new skills every day. Every customer is different and has specific needs that we try to meet. Therefore, our priority is that each customer gets the most professional advice and, in the end, knows what product suits him or her best.
The way the store with looks, with the buds and hash on display, do you get any trouble from the police? Or confused shoppers?
There are many shoppers who cannot believe what we are selling and are completely surprised. Funnily enough, those usually become the most content customers. We haven’t had any trouble regarding the police, since our products fulfill all the legal requirements. The customers range from students to doctors, and is completely mixed. One day a policeman even came into our store to buy something, telling us that his mother is a complete fan of our CBD drops and crème.
Do you use any of the products?
Yes, I am using CBD drops once in the morning and once in the evening. It has a positive effect on my metabolism and they let me get a perfect sleep.
If someone is new to the world of CBD, which item do you recommend?
CBD oil is certainly the most universal product, since it can be used by everyone. Besides I must recommend our CBD crème, too. Since it is completely organic you can be sure that the skin absorbs only natural substances, all coming from the fruitful earth in Slovenia.
You also have an online store – do you ship all over Slovenia?
Our mission is to provide people with high-quality CBD Flowers and a wide variety of other products, all derived from Cannabis. Come visit us at Trubarjeva cesta 18, Ljubljana! We are looking forward to seeing you!
23 January 2019 - The BBC’s Good Food project has announced its list of “top 10 destinations for foodies 2019”, with Ljubljana making an appearance at #3. Illustrated with a picture of the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation and Dragon Bridge, as taken from Fishmarket Footbridge (one of the best photo spots in town, as noted here), the attractions of the city are described as follows:
Small but perfectly formed, the so-called 'Europe in miniature' is so much more than that. Slovenia’s food culture is little bit Eastern European, a little bit Alpine, a little bit Med, but very much its own thing, too. The tiny capital, Ljubljana, has hipster coffee spots and killer burger joints but also cosy old country restaurants where rustic cuisine reigns supreme. Think: pršut (air-dried ham), zlikrofi (a ravioli-like pasta filled with herby pork), and indulgent gibanica cake (a blend of shortbread and fruity strudel) – dishes that are plentiful in beautiful lake and mountain towns like Bohinj and Bled. Chefs like Ana Roš are leading the charge for inventive Michelin-starred Slovenian cuisine, and there’s a little stretch of coast, too, where simple shellfish and fish carpaccio dishes are a fresh counterpoint to hearty inland eats.
While global travellers may be surprised to see the tiny capital of Slovenia ahead of such vast areas of culinary delights as the whole of Japan, placed at #8, the ranking is a welcome addition to the growing body of work drawing attention to the varied cuisine that’s available in this small but topographically, climatically and agriculturally diverse land. Indeed, Slovenia’s 24 gastronomic regions, for too long neglected by gourmets, gourmands, foodies and the culinary elite, seem to be preparing for some time in the spotlight. As part of the 2017–2021 Strategy for the Sustainable Growth of Slovenian Tourism (PDF), the tourist board has defined Slovenian gastronomy as one of the ten leading tourist products of the nation, one that can help in both leading visitors to some of the less trafficked parts of the country, as well as help promote tourism in all four seasons. The country is also preparing for its year as a European Region of Gastronomy in 2021, as reported last year.
STA, 22 January 2019 - Only 12% of Slovenians surveyed in a EU-wide opinion poll believe that antisemitism is a problem in their country, and only 4% consider it a major problem.
The results, presented in Brussels ahead of 27 January International Holocaust Remembrance Day, found a gap between how the problem is perceived by Jews and how by the general population in the EU.
In the survey, conducted by Eurobarometer among 27,600 respondents across the EU in December, one in three respondents (36%) said that antisemitism increased in their country in the past five years.
Only 12% of respondents in Slovenia believe the same, against 62% who feel the level of antisemitism has remained the same and 9% who believe the problem has decreased.
However, a survey conducted by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights among almost 16,500 Jewish people in 12 EU countries, found nine out of ten feeling that antisemitism increased in their country.
Half of respondents in the Eurobarometer survey feel that antisemitism is a problem in their country, the largest proportion in Sweden (81%) and France (72%) and the lowest in Estonia (5%), Bulgaria (8%) and Portugal (9%).
Fifteen percent of Europeans believe that antisemitism is a very important problem in their country, the highest proportion in Sweden (37%).
In Slovenia, 12% respondents said that they felt antisemitism was a fairy important problem and 4% thought it was a very important problem, against 30% who thought it was not really a problem and 45% who said it was not a problem at all.
Thirty percent of Slovenian respondents also said that people in their country were not well informed about the history, customs and practices of Jewish people, which corresponds to 16% of all Europeans.
13% of respondents in Slovenia said they had friends or acquaintances who are Jews.
All our stories on Jewish Slovenia are here, while a more detailed summary of the Eurobarometer report can be found here, and a PDF of the full report here
It is said that every true Slovene should climb to the top of Triglav, the highest Slovenian mountain, at least once in their lifetime.
However, recent reports of heavy traffic at the top of the mountain along with the trash trail that follows it are evidence that such an expression of national pride doesn’t come without the cost these days. Calls to drop the ‘everyone on Triglav’ idea and replace it with practices that are focused on preservation of nature rather than the defence of territory by repeated conquests of inhabitable lands have been becoming louder in the last two decades. Such a paradigm change is even more pressing since the struggle for independence ended with the final acquisition of the Slovenian statehood in 1991.
This article, however is not about what should be done about mass tourism at the top of Slovenia’s highest peak, but rather how it has all begun. How and why did Triglav and mountaineering in general become so tightly knitted into the fabric of the Slovenian national identity.
The start of an obsession
“To conquer the summit” is in fact a literal translation of a Slovenian expression for reaching the summit (osvojiti vrh), while the very idea of climbing to the top of a mountain instead of worshipping it from the bottom originates in the ideas of the Enlightenment.
One of the most important places which allowed for the enlightenment to spread among the 18th century Slovenes was, perhaps surprising for some, a secluded mining town called Idrija, the location of the world’s second largest mercury mine. As such, Idrija attracted some of the Europe’s finest natural scientists of the time, in particular Giovanni Antonio Scopoli and Balthasar Hacquet. And both men played an important role in the series of events that lead to the first reaching of Triglav’s summit in 1778, which took place eight years before Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps, was climbed.
Idrija, Janez Vajkard Valvasor, 1679
Now, Triglav at the time was not Triglav today, equipped with ropes, iron fences and widened trails, and even though the peak lies below three thousand metres, it was quite a difficult mountain to climb, not something one could do on the first attempt. So how did the two enlightened thinkers influence the idea to get to the top?
Scopoli, born in the Southern Tirol (today’s Italy) of the Hapsburg Empire, served in Idrija as the first mine physician between 1754 and 1769, a job which included extensive research on the surrounding botany (no antibiotics in those days), including the Julian Alps, the location of the Triglav massive. This is why Scopoli ended as the first man at the top of Storžič (2,132m) in 1758 and Grintavec (2,558m) in 1759. In 1760 Scopoli published a book on his findings called Flora Carniolica and kept a regular correspondence with no other but the father of contemporary taxonomy, Carl von Linné (aka Carl Linnaeus) in Sweden. The two communicated in Latin.
Apart from his inventory of over 1,100 plants from the Slovenian Northwest, Scopoli also founded an education programme in metallurgy and chemistry in Idrija, which he eventually left for professor’s position at several respectable universities in central Europe.
In Idrija, Scopoli was joined and then replaced by a French surgeon and natural scientist Balthasar Hacquet, who, intrigued by Scopoli’s work, came to Idrija in 1766. Hacquet, also credited with the first description of mercury poisoning symptoms, followed in Scopoli’s steps and attempted his first ascent to Triglav in 1777, but only reached one of the mountain’s lower peaks, Mali Triglav.
The natural sciences and Žiga Zois
At the time Hacquet was also in correspondence with Žiga Zois (Sigmund Zois), a natural science enthusiast, geologist and at the time the richest Slovene, who had just purchased an ironworks facility (fužina) at the foot of the mountain in Bohinj.
Zois in a wheelchair he designed himself
Why Sigismund (Žiga) Zois decided to sponsor the first expedition to the top of Triglav in 1778 is not entirely clear, as the so-called Bohinj papers in which expedition details were discussed have been lost. According to one theory, the predominant reasons were to send someone on the lookout for possible new ore deposits. Another theory is that Zois got inspired by the failed attempt of his geologist pen-pal Hacquet. Either way, Žiga Zois presumably promised a financial award to anyone reaching the top and also organised an expedition, which eventually successfully reached the summit for the first time in 1778.
The expedition was led by Zois’ ironworks facility physician and Hacquet’s student Lawrence Willomitzer, who was to be accompanied by three local guides: Luka Korošec and Matevž Kos, both miners and a hunter Štefan Rožič. Although there is some debate about wether or not all of the men really reached the top, in 1978 the Mountaineering Association decided to depict all four men in a statue in Ribčev Laz, Bohinj, as “more first ascents are better than less”.
Vodnik makes it to the top of Slovenia
Besides researchers and the nobility (Žiga Zois was a baron), another group of people was interested in mountaineering in those early days: priests.
The first one to mention is Valentin Vodnik from Šiška (Ljubljana), who went to Triglav in 1795 in another of the expeditions financed by Zois. The main goal was to prove the neptunist theory on the sea origin of Julian rocks, and thereby refute the plutonist claims of the rock’s volcanic origin, a dispute Zois found himself in with an acquaintance from Transylvania, Johann Ehrenreich von Fichtel, whose claims on the upper parts of the mountain to be of volcanic origin were based on a simple assumption. To prove Fichtel wrong Zois needed a specimen from the top of the mountain that would show some sediment, which was eventually provided by Vodnik.
Photo: Neža Loštrek
Valentin Vodnik, however, didn’t stay priest much longer after meeting Zois in 1792. He switched to teaching position at Ljubljana grammar school six years later. As such, both Vodnik and his patron Zois are part of the group responsible for the early experimentations with Slovenian nationalism, which in the case of Valentin Vodnik meant the use of what was then considered vulgar peasant language in poetry. Indeed, Vodnik’s 1794 ascent of Kredarica and then a year later of Triglav inspired one of his better poems, Vršac.
With Austria’s defeat by the Napoleon’s army, life changed significantly for Vodnik in 1809, when the newly established Illyrian province with its capital set in Ljubljana allowed him to teach in the Slovenian language. He became a principal of Ljubljana grammar school and a supervisor of vocational and handicraft schools. Vodnik marked this French move in support of local ethnic empowerment with an ode called “Illyria reborn” (published in 1811), for which he had to pay a price once the Austrians took their territory back in 1813 – he was banned from ever teaching again in 1815.
In this circle of early priest alpinists we can also count the Dežman brothers, who also reached the top of Triglav in the years of 1808 and 1809. Among Slovenia’s most notable alpine climbers at the time, however, Valentin Stanič stands out as the first proper alpinist in a contemporary sense of the word. His ascents were often unique and daring, since he regularly climbed solo without a guide and even in winter time. He climbed various European mountains, including Grossglockner in 1800. In 1808 he and his guide Anton Kos reached the top of Triglav, where Stanič measured its altitude with a barometric device and only missed the exact figure by 7 metres, an admirable result for an amateur surveyor. Although it seems that his climbing initially served his scientific interests, Stanič later developed a much more sporting interest in trying to climb as many mountains as possible, to be the first one to reach unconquered summits, and on the way overcome hardships and experience happiness and excitement, attitudes that were very unusual and forward-thinking for the era he climbed in.
Valentin Stanič, 1846
Despite this, most researchers, noblemen and priests would not head into dangerous mountain conditions without local guides, with this latter group less concerned with getting to the top of the mountain than they were with the opportunity to make some money for themselves and their families.
Enter the Slavs
In the middle of the 19th century several ideological attitudes developed in the mountaineering communities of Europe.
The sporty style of the British nobility on Europe’s most prominent mountains came into being with the help of local French and Swiss guides. This elitist style of climbing by a leisure class who could afford to travel abroad and mount expeditions was contrasted by the style of the Germans, who were climbing at home and thus needed less money to do so, and for whom mountaineering was less associated with class, prestige and conquest. Well, until the Slavs enter the picture.
For most of the Slavs, and especially the Slovenes, mountaineering was closely associated with a defence against language- and class-related Germanising influences, as seen, for example, in the use of new German names for mountains and other places that were originally in Slovenian, a process that increased with the growing number of well-organised German climbing groups who were visiting the Julian Alps at the time. On top of this, Napoleon’s short-lived Illyrian province, which planted the seed of nationalistic sentiment in the minds of the Slovenian masses, strengthened the assimilating pressures of the Austrian empire, which in turn generated much greater resistance. Mountaineering thus became part of the Slovenian national project, and Triglav as the highest peak in the Julian Alps was its symbol.