Ljubljana is the capital and largest city of Slovenia. It is the cultural, educational, economic, political and administrative centre of the country.
Origin of Ljubljana
The origin of the 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 called Lubiana in Italian, in Latin: Labacum and anciently Aemona.
History – Ljubljana
Around 2000 BC, the Ljubljana Marshes in the immediate vicinity of Ljubljana were settled by people living in pile dwellings. Prehistoric pile dwellings and the oldest wooden wheel in the world are among the most notable archeological findings from the marshland. These lake-dwelling people lived through hunting, fishing and primitive agriculture. To get around the marshes, they used dugout canoes made by cutting out the inside of tree trunks. Their archaeological remains, nowadays in the Municipality of Ig, have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site since June 2011, in the common nomination of six Alpine states.
Around 50 BC, the Romans built a military encampment that later became a permanent settlement called Iulia Aemona.This entrenched fort was occupied by the Legio XV Apollinaris. In 452, it was destroyed by the Huns under Attila’s orders, and later by the Ostrogoths and the Lombards. Emona housed 5,000 to 6,000 inhabitants and played an important role during numerous battles. Its plastered brick houses, painted in different colours, were already connected to a drainage system.
In the 6th century, the ancestors of the Slovenes moved in. In the 9th century, they fell under Frankish domination, while experiencing frequent Magyar raids. Not much is known about the area during the settlement of Slavs in the period between the downfall of Emona and the Early Middle Ages.
The parchment sheet Nomina defunctorum (“Names of the Dead”), most probably written in the second half of 1161, mentions the nobleman Rudolf of Tarcento, a lawyer of the Patriarchate of Aquileia, who had bestowed a canon with 20 farmsteads beside the castle of Ljubljana (castrum Leibach) to the Patriarchate. According to the historian Peter Štih’s deduction, this happened between 1112 and 1125, thus representing the earliest mention of Ljubljana.
Originally owned by a number of possessors, until the first half of the 12th century, the territory south of the Sava where the town of Ljubljana developed gradually became property of the Carinthian family of the Dukes of Sponheim. Urban settlement in Ljubljana started in the second half of the 12th century. At around 1200, market rights were granted to Old Square (Stari trg), which at the time was one of the three districts that Ljubljana originated from. The other two districts were an area called “Town” (Mesto), built around the predecessor of the present-day Ljubljana Cathedral at one side of the Ljubljanica River, and New Square (Novi trg) at the other side. The Franciscan Bridge, a predecessor of the present-day Triple Bridge, and the Butchers’ Bridge connected the walled areas with wood-made buildings. Ljubljana acquired the town privileges at some time between 1220 and 1243. Seven fires erupted in the town during the Middle Ages. Artisans organised themselves into guilds. The Teutonic Knights, the Conventual Franciscans, and the Franciscans settled in the town. In 1256, when the Carinthian duke Ulrich III of Spanheim became lord of Carniola, the provincial capital was moved from Kamnik to Ljubljana.
In the late 1270s, Ljubljana was conquered by King Ottokar II of Bohemia. In 1278, after Ottokar’s defeat, it became—together with the rest of Carniola—property of Rudolph of Habsburg. It was administered by the Counts of Gorizia from 1279 until 1335, when it became the capital town of Carniola. Renamed Laibach, it would be owned by the House of Habsburg until 1797. In 1327, the Ljubljana’s “Jewish Quarter”—now only “Jewish Street” (Židovska ulica) remains—was established with a synagogue, and lasted until Emperor Maximilian I in 1515 succumbed to medieval antisemitism and expelled Jews from Ljubljana, for which he demanded a certain payment from the town.
In 1382, in front of St. Bartholomew’s Church in Šiška, at the time a nearby village, now part of Ljubljana, a peace treaty was signed between the Republic of Venice and Leopold III of Habsburg.
In the 15th century, Ljubljana became recognised for its art, particularly painting and sculpture. The Roman Rite Catholic Diocese of Ljubljana was established in 1461 and the Church of St. Nicholas became the diocesan cathedral. After the 1511 Idrija earthquake, the city was rebuilt in the Renaissance style and a new wall was built around it. Wooden buildings were forbidden after a large fire at New Square in 1524.
From 1809 to 1813, during the Napoleonic interlude, Ljubljana (under the name Laybach) was the capital of the Illyrian Provinces. In 1813, the city became Austrian again and from 1815 to 1849 was the administrative centre of the Kingdom of Illyria in the Austrian Empire.In 1821, it hosted the Congress of Laibach, which fixed European political borders for years to come.The first train arrived in 1849 from Vienna and in 1857 the line was extended to Trieste.
In 1895, Ljubljana, then a city of 31,000, suffered a serious earthquake measuring 6.1 degrees Richter and 8–9 degrees MCS. Some 10% of its 1,400 buildings were destroyed, although casualties were light. During the reconstruction that followed, a number of districts were rebuilt in the Vienna Secession style. Public electric lighting appeared in the city in 1898. The rebuilding period between 1896 and 1910 is referred to as the “revival of Ljubljana” because of architectural changes from which a great deal of the city dates back to today and for reform of urban administration, health, education and tourism that followed. The rebuilding and quick modernisation of the city were led by the mayor Ivan Hribarn.
In 1918, following the end of World War I and the dissolution of Austria-Hungary, the region joined the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. In 1929, Ljubljana became the capital of the Drava Banovina, a Yugoslav province.
In 1941, during World War II, Fascist Italy occupied the city, and on 3 May 1941 made Lubiana the capital of Italy’s Province of Ljubljana with the former Yugoslav general Leon Rupnik as mayor. After the Italian capitulation, Nazi Germany with SS-general Erwin Rösener and Friedrich Rainer took control in 1943, but formally the city remained the capital of an Italian province until 9 May 1945. In Ljubljana, the occupying forces established strongholds and command centres of Quisling organisations, the Anti-Communist Volunteer Militia under Italy and the Home Guard under German occupation. Since February 1942, the city was surrounded by barbed wire, later fortified by bunkers, to prevent co-operation between the resistance movement that operated within and outside the fence. Since 1985, the commemorative trail has ringed the city where this iron fence once stood. Postwar reprisals resulted in a number of mass graves in Ljubljana.
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