Ljubljana is the capital and largest city of Slovenia. It has been the cultural, educational, economic, political, and administrative centre of independent Slovenia since 1991.
During antiquity, a Roman city called Emona stood in the area. Ljubljana itself was first mentioned in the first half of the 12th century. Situated at the middle of a trade route between the northern Adriatic Sea and the Danube region, it was the historical capital of Carniola one of the Slovene-inhabited parts of the Habsburg Monarchy. It was under Habsburg rule from the Middle Ages until the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918. 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 and Ljubljana became capital of the newly formed state.
The origin of name of the city, Ljubljana, 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 alternatively named Lublana in many English language documents.The city is called Lublana in Silesian, Lubiana in Italian, in Latin: Labacum and anciently Aemona.
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 symbolises 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.
THE CASTLE - FESTIVAL VENUE
Ljubljana Castle (Slovene: Ljubljanski grad, German: Laibacher Schloss) is a castle complex standing on Castle Hill above downtown Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. It is a key landmark of the town. Originally a medieval fortress, it was probably constructed in the 11th century and rebuilt in the 12th century. It acquired its present outline with an almost complete overhaul in the 15th century, whereas the majority of the buildings date to the 16th and 17th centuries. Initially a defense structure and since the first half of the 14th century the seat of the lords of Carniola, it was since the early 19th century used for various other purposes and today is used as a major cultural venue.
The castle is depicted on the city's coat of arms, along with a dragon on top.