Entering the city with Ljubljanica river

Sometimes the Ljubljanica river is  called The River of Seven Names due to its karst nature –  on its way towards Ljubljana disappears underground several  times and springs again at different places, every time under a different name. Even as Ljubljanica has a number of different springs.  Ten kilometres to the northeast of Ljubljana city centre it empties itself into the Sava river. It is one of the most notable landmarks of the city or even more – it is the foundation of the city itself.

Upstream view from Livada but it could be anywhere – from Vrhnika to this spot looks more or less the same.

From Roman times to the construction of the railway in the mid-19th century, the Ljubljanica was a major trade and supply route. Romans even moved its bed to in order to bring the stones for building purposes from Podpeč at Ljubljana Marshes.

On its way to Ljubljana, the river flows through the unique natural landscape of Ljubljana Marshes and descents only 1 m in its 20 km lenght. Its bed is one of Slovenia’s most important archaeological sites. Excavations have yielded objects dating from prehistory to the early modern period. Archaeologists believe that the river once had a cult status. In April 2002 archaeologists found the remains of a two-wheeled wooden cart dating 5100 to 5350 years back into the past. It is the oldest wheel found in Europe and elsewhere in the world so far. The wheel is on display at the City Museum of Ljubljana.

But Ljubljana Marshes is an  another story which is to be covered elsewhere. Here we just want to suggest an interesting photo walk along and around the river where it enters the wider city centre. The whole path is just around the corner of the city centre itself yet most of the time it feels like another world.

View towards the city from the bridge at Livada

It is possible to start the tour at any end or make a circle – it will take around 90 minutes. We have started at the bridge near the restaurant Livada at sunrise. Ljubljanica is beautiful in all conditions but we love the early morning light.

On the left bank just at the bridge is located Fishing Club Barje and a number of small vege gardens. It is necessary to navigate between them to find the access to the water and a scenery like this:

Left bank just under the bridge.

There are some more points where the river can be reached further down the left bank but pretty complicated to find them since one has to go to Opekarska street (Opekarska cesta) and look for the passages between the buildings. Another channel of water coming into the river doesn’t help here. In fact it is not worth the effort at all. Crossing the bridge and following the right bank bellow the restaurant or starting behind the restaurant at the Kajak Kanu Club Ljubljana would be a much better idea.

Kayak Kanu Club Ljubljana

Upstream, downstream, across the river – colourful motives are all around. Even an old school boat was modelling for us!

Designed to win

Upstream view was also pretty nice.

Kayak Kanu Club upstream view

After the fence which closes the Kayak Kanu Club premises access to the water is again limited so a slight detour is needed here – exit the premises to the Livada Street and turn left onto Ižanska cesta just to turn left again after some 200 meters behind the educational complex which can not be missed. This should be a reassuring view confirming  you are on the right path:

Hladnik Bridge

Hladnik’s Footbridge connects the city with a green suburban area and  the  Ljubljana Botanic Garden, which is just across the street of Ižanska cesta. Špica is awaiting on the other side of the bridge, a renovated Ljubljanica river embankment landscaped as a park. Špica used to be a city beach. Now again, due to its green surroundings and a large area paved with wood, it  attracts numerous visitors.

Špica – only a part of the refreshment areas.

Špica translates as a “pointed tip” due to its shape which splits Ljubljanica in two channels – the left turn flows into the city centre while the right one goes around it. It is called Gruberjev Channel and it was build in order to add more descent thus helping the city with high waters and floods. The bank was recently renovated and new wharfs were added to improve the look and feel of the river.

Gruber channel and the wharfs.

From Špica it is possible to reach the city centre walking along the river almost all of the time. Here the river says farewell to its slow and dreamy natural appearance…

Looking back into the wild nature at Špica

… and gets more urban. The transition is smooth…

From Špica to the city

…but definite. First traffic bridge is only 200 meters away and from it the  distinctive appearance which the river owes to the architect Jože Plečnik, who designed the old city centre’s river embankments, landscaped tree-lined riverside walks, including the well known weeping willow-lined terraced walk alongside the Trnovski pristan embankment.

View to the Trnovski pristan embankment

Crossing the bridge you can continue along Opekarska Street and turn left at the traffic lights to reach the starting point at Livada or turn right to enjoy the willow-lined walk to Trnovski Pristan. The walk along the river through the city centre is described in another post.

Looking upstream from Trnovski Pristan – it is beautiful in any weather!

All photos are made with HuaweiP20Pro in cooperation with Huawei Slovenija.

Zoran Leban Trojar @zokus_gf

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