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Maribor

Maribor is the second-largest city in Slovenia with a population close to 100K. The biggest and the oldest part of the city is located on the left bank of the Drava river. Probably are the vineyards which surround it, peaceful Pohorje Hills nearby and a lenghty shore of the river that create a special, somewhat Mediterranean easy going atmosphere in the city.

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City centre is relatively small and not difficult to find one’s way around.  A stroll from Glavni trg to  Slovenska ulica in the north would take only a couple of minutes and from Titova cesta on the east towards Strossmayeryeva ulica on the west shouldn’t last much longer. Huge majority of everything regarding architecture and history lies inside that square. But take your time and enjoy places on your way.

trgGrajski trg (Castle Square) with Kavarna Astoria and of course with the castle itself is a lively place on sunny days. Turn round at the castle tower and enjoy the view of the Franciscan church since it is difficult to find a shot from the other side, cars free. Always better to have some crowd and a  musician on the photo than some cars:)

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There is no history without a dark side, that day it was just around the corner, on the Trg svobode.

drevBut it was not difficult to proceed on the sunny side.

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Maribor is full of small parks and there is a huuuuuge (5 hectares) Mestni park (City Park) just north of the city centre, connecting the urban part of the city with the vineyards  covering the Piramida Hill just above the town.

parkkuglaThis is a classic view, but it is not difficult to find your own.

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A lot of trees and many of them are 140 years old. Should I add that autumn is the best time to play around with camera?

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Park is a beautiful combination of free space and order.

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Turning south-east near  Trije ribniki (Tree ponds, used to be a famous restaurant) would lead you to the Railway Station and Bus Station, further back to the city centre. Some pretty amazing details there.

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The back view was also worth a shot.

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A few hundred meters behind the bus station is an access to the river, close to the Railway Bridge. One could easily turn back to the city centre here because there is only a car park behind the station and the buildings across the street are new and ugly. But following the street to the south and crossing the road which goes along the river pays off heavily if you like that kind of view.

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It is necessary to return to the road from here and follow the river upstream but  first opportunity to go back to the river bank is just a few hundred meters away. From there on a path is always close to the water but the best views start again after the next bridge. This is Lent, the oldest part of the city with some amazing old buildings. It is a very popular place to eat and hang around with a lot of sun and plenty restaurants. Unfortunately parked cars can ruin your desired motif.stolp

Water Tower from 1555 was a part of the defence structure of the city. In reality it is not a tower at all and has nothing to do with the water. Well, almost nothing since wine is mostly – water and the tower now hosts an enoteca.

Over the water is another world and only a small part of old building worth to explore but you can cross the river and take a shot back at the Lent. A good photo from the other side requires more serious gear than a phone.

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We have found enough beautiful motifs on the Lent itself, like this one bellow the Koroški Bridge.

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Also on a beautiful sunny day one can find a photo opportunity without people in the way.

trtaMuch more difficult is find a moment without crowd in front of the Old Vine, the oldest vine in the world. The confirmed age is about 400 years and it still bears grapes. About 100 2,5, dl bottles are filled every year. It is an official THE sight of the city and is a must for all tourist groups but believe me – you can find a lot more in Maribor for your photographic thirst than that.

All information available regarding Maribor you can find in the link at the beginning of this post. For more photo inspirations about Maribor I can strongly recommend Igor Unuk who also acted as a photo guide during our Maribor #instameet.

Zoran Leban Trojar @zokus_gf

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Ljubljana (from Trg revolucije to the Town Hall)

Ljubljana is a small city by the standards of capitals but as Slovenia itself offers  many great views at the short distances. Since we are dedicated to show you not only the obvious few spots of Slovenia we decided to divide descriptions of Ljubljana to shorter walks which offer great photo opportunities.maximStarting point is Trg Republike (Republic Square). It is the centre of contemporary Ljubljana built in 1960 by famous architect Edvard Ravnikar and  surrounded by the Parliament (just behind my back), Cankarjev dom – cultural and congress centre, Maximarket department store and TR3 and Ljubljanska banka office buildings (on the photo). All building were built between 1954 and 1975  and that’s why I call the square “contemporary”. Until a few years ago it used to be a parking space. Now, when empty, these two buildings stand as a kind of entrance (or exit). Since the square itself is fairly empty it offers fine but tricky photo opportunity.The square and the buildings are huge and the sunlight comes mostly from behind of Maximarket or the towers. See it for yourself. In the late autumn sun sets just between the towers.

 

ursulinskaUrsuline church and monastery are just a passage of Maximarket store away – facing the towers just turn left. Too close in fact to find enough space for a proper shot. The church tower is also visible from the Republic square over the roof of the store and from some side views, but always just partially. But if you turn left again and use the underground passage just a few steps away you’ll find yourself in a fine park of Kongresni trg (Congress Square). Now, on your right, is a front side of the same church from 1726.

ursulinkskafrontThe concrete part of the square where you stand now also used to be a parking lot but now offers a clean view on the magnificent Ljubljana Castle over the building of Slovenian Philharmonic, one of the oldest of the kind, from 1701. Just behind your back, taken from the steps of the church.

gradThe beautiful park itself is also called Zvezda (Star), in past times also Sidro (Anchor). Just take a stroll and you find the reason for yourself.

zvezdaMany different approaches are possible now to the river bank, personally I prefer  the narrow one beside the Philharmonia building.

filharmonijaFrom the other side, back to the square, a few days of the year you can catch a sunset around late spring. But in the autumn the view on the river, old city buildings and the castle is enriched with large leaves.

listgradOn your left is now the famous Tromostovje (Triple Bridge). Many different angles are accesible, one of the best is from the new small bridge or from Makalonca bar just bellow the bridge.

 

tromostovjeThe best view on Prešernov trg (Preseren Square) in the front of Triple Bridge is from the steps of the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation, the red building on the photo above. It is difficult not to catch at least a glimpse of the castle from spots around here.

presernovCrossing the Tripple Bridge you’ll find yourself in front of the Town Hall and famous baroque Robba Fountain with a view on the Cathedral.

magistratEarly morning is always the best time to take photos around here since sun rises somewhere behind the castle, exact point of course depends on the time of the year. Daily sun can be very harsh and  the whole area is already in the shadow afternoons.

For more information about the sights and Ljubljana Visit Ljubljana, one of the best tourist websites and offices in the world.

 

Zoran Leban Trojar @zokus_gf

Kočevje

Today Kočevje is a small sleepy town in southern Slovenia but it has witnessed quite a part of a history. Unless one is heading to explore Kolpa river from it’s source or using one of the shortest routes from central Slovenia to Kvarner bay in Croatia, Kočevje is not very likely to be on the must see list while discovering Slovenia. On the other hand, distance of 60 km from Ljubljana to Kočevje is only a short trip worth traveling for the landscape itself, just make sure that you are not leaving at rush hour of Saturday morning in the summer.

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Nature lovers and hunters would enjoy in the surrounding woods which still keep deep secrets about not so distant past. The city itself offers a great photo spot, parish church of St. Bartholomew  (Sv. Jernej) above the slow Rinža river, covered with water lilies.

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Church is one of the biggest churches in Slovenia, but not so old as majority of others, it is from 1905.

The best spot to take a shot is across the river where it makes a bend behind the church.

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There you can also see the bridge close to the front of the church,  another bridge down the river offers an opportunity to shoot in the opposite direction.

I would definitely recommend to read some short history of Kočevje.

Zoran Leban Trojar @zokus_gf

Tacen Whitewater Course

It is easy to follow the guides and visit the objects of popular interest but the real challenge is to find less known locations which offer opportunities for a nice shot or two. Tacen Whitewater Course, a venue for kayak and canoe competition, is one of them and it is accesible by public transportation from Ljubljana city centre.

The course is known as Kayak Canoe Club Tacen and it is located in on Sava River in Tacen, 9 km NW of city centre. It held the first competition back in 1939 when it was still a natural rapid at the base of a dam in the river. Since then it was developed in a modern sport center.

 

Coming from the center just watch for the last turn left from the main road before the bridge over Sava. After 200 m there is a tennis course and a parking place can be found. River is only a few steps away and over the river there is also a nice view of Šmarna Gora, the most popular hiking destination of Ljubljana.

Dog leg dam (I am a golfer, I can’t help myself) spreads over the whole width of the river, only its right part is in fact a river sluice gate, with which amount of water to enter two sports canals is regulated.

Peaceful place to stroll along the river or just sit there and relax is just behind the dam. Even swans are regular visitors there and it is also one of the few spots around Ljubljana to catch a spectacular sunset over the water.

Zoran Leban Trojar – @zokus_gf

Kamniška Bistrica

Kamniška Bistrica (The Kamnik Bistrica) is an Alpine river, a 33 km long left tributary of the Sava River. It springs from the Kamnik Alps near the border with Austria.

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The valley of Kamniška Bistrica plunges from the south into the heart of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps. Since we mentioned name Kamnik so many times already – from most directions, with the exception of the access from Upper Savinja Valley, the small and charming medieval town of Kamnik is on the way to the valley. It was first mentioned as a town in 1229, when it was an important trading post on the road between Ljubljana and Celje. It is one of the oldest towns in Slovenia.

The valley is a very popular starting point for various hiking trips to the mountains of Kamnik-Savinja Alps and nearby waterfall Orglice. Cable car to Velika Planina, huge mountain plateau and ski resort with big and lively herdsmen’s settlement of unique architecture, is also located nearby the entrance to the most narrow part of the valley.

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In summer days, especially at weekends, it is probably the best decision to park the car at first opportunity from this point on and enter the pathways along one of the gorges, Veliki and Mali (Big and Small) Predaselj. Beautiful crystal clear water is at the deepest part of the Veliki Predaselj hidden 30 m bellow. Watch your step if you decide to take a closer look at it.

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Follow the pathways which lead to the small lake just at the spring of the river and to the mountain lodge Dom v Kamniški Bistrici. There is also a parking zone, which can be crowded at weekends in the season. .

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Forests and mountains around used to be popular hunting area over centuries. Close to the mountain lodge is another building, which used to be a Royal Hunting Lodge of the King Alexander I of Yugoslavia. Famous Slovenian architect Josef Plečnik designed it in 1932. Later it was used by Tito, as well as the smaller lodge on the boulder above.

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But don’t stop there. Above the lake the water comes into daylight from underneath many rocks, which are overgrown with moss. Spruce trees grow on larger boulders and the water creates tiny waterfalls and rapids. It is very refreshing in hot days, but it could also be pretty wild after heavy rain. Beautiful views on the mountains wait for you along the road from the lodge.

 

More information:

Kamnik Bistrica Valley

Kamnik 

Velika Planina

 

Zoran Leban Trojar, @zokus_gf