From Marshes to Modern Green Capital

Marshes – Emona – Laibach – Ljubljana.

Because of its unique place on the Earth Ljubljana was a part of many settlements, kingdoms, and countries that took place over the history. Since the Romans, it was important military and trade center where various cultures met and interfered. Life was many times stopped and interrupted not only by new conquerors but also by frequent fires and earthquakes, from which Ljubljana always emerged even more beautiful, modern, and chic. 

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.

Later, the area remained a transit point for numerous tribes and peoples, among them the Illyrians, followed by a mixed nation of the Celts and the Illyrians called the Iapydes, and then in the 3rd century BC a Celtic tribe, the Taurisci.

Around 50 BC, in Ljubljana Romans built a military encampment that later became a permanent settlement called Julia Emona, which was in 452 destroyed by the Huns under Attila‘s orders, and later by the Ostrogoths and the Lombards.

In Emona lived 5,000–6,000 inhabitants which played an important role during numerous battles. Its plastered brick houses, painted in different colors, were already connected to a drainage system.

First Slovenes came in the Emona in the 6th century and fell under Frankish domination 3 centuries later.

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. At some time between 1220 and 1243 Ljubljana acquired the town privileges.

In late 1270, Ljubljana was conquered by King Ottokar II of Bohemia. In 1278, after Ottokar’s defeat, it became—together with the rest of Carniola (a historical region that comprised parts of present-day Slovenia) —property of Rudolph of Habsburg.  It became the capital town of Carniola and was renamed Laibach.

"Laybach" (Ljubljana) in Johann Weikhard von Valvasor's work The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola of 1689

After the 1511 Idrija earthquake, the city was rebuilt in the Renaissance style and a new wall was built around it. Additionally because of the frequency of fires wooden buildings were forbidden at New Square.

In the 16th century, the first secondary school, public library and printing house opened in Ljubljana making the town an important educational center. It also had very active Protestant community, which was later expelled from the city by Catholic Bishop Thomas Chrön. When Jesuits arrived in the city, to eradicate Protestantism only 5 % of the residents of Ljubljana were of Catholic confession. To change that Jesuits organized the first theatrical productions in the town fostered the development of Baroque music and established Catholic schools. In the middle and the second half of the 17th century, foreign architects built and renovated numerous monasteries, churches, and palaces in Ljubljana and introduced Baroque architecture

During the Napoleonic interlude (1809 to 1813), Ljubljana was the capital of the Illyrian Provinces (a short-lived autonomous province of the Napoleonic French Empire, established in 1809 on the territories along the north and east coasts of the Adriatic Sea). In 1813, the city became Austrian again and from 1815 to 1849 was the administrative center of the Kingdom of Illyria in the Austrian Empire.

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. 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”.

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 an Italian Provincia di Lubiana 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. 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. 

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.

Ljubljana remains the capital of independent Slovenia, and remains a box of jules.



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