Summer in the city and Ljubljana looks so pretty
Ljubljana, 10 August - A quiet and modest city only a decade ago, Slovenia's capital is bustling with life this summer, drawing visitors from all over the world like a magnet. The biggest star is its master architect Jože Plečnik.
One thing that has definitely helped put Ljubljana on the global tourism map is that the city centre has been turned into a big pedestrianised area and given a through facelift.
With the traffic fumes and noise gone, the locals and visitors can now enjoy the heritage of the city's architect, Jože Plečnik (1872-1957), in all its glory.
At the heart of it all is the Triple Bridge, where groups of visitors on guided tours are waiting their turn to gaze at the master's work on the 60th anniversary of his death.
Two older ladies from Holland who are in Ljubljana for philosophy lectures are "absolutely impressed" by Ljubljana, enjoying strolling around what they say is an architectural gem.
They are looking forward to a guided tour of Plečnik sights and his house in the Trnovo borough. They have also been to the National Gallery, where they were moved by Zoran Mušič's stark Dachau impressions.
Walking around the town centre, you will hardly hear the local language, but there is a buzz of foreign tongues: German, English, Italian, as well as Hebrew, Arabic, Indian and Japanese.
Most visitors will tell you that they have stopped over in Ljubljana for a couple of days. They are enjoying just walking around and most will mention Plečnik, while few have time for museums.
A survey conducted by market research company Valicon among foreign tourists last year suggested that about two out of three visitors spend two to four nights in Ljubljana and only one out of ten stays a week or more.
The survey also showed that an average foreign visitor to Ljubljana spends 51 euro a day without travel and accommodation costs, the bulk of it (EUR 30) on food and drinks.
Only 12% of the 934 visitors questioned visited museums and galleries, 13% did sightseeing and 4% only visited architectural sights.
Such culture-oriented visitors spent some ten euro a day on visiting museums and sights, and seven euro on architectural sights.
A major draw for the locals and visitors is the Ljubljana Festival, which offers top-notch music and theatre acts virtually every night.
There are also the smaller Imago Sloveniae events and gigs at pubs and restaurants, as well as impromptu open-air entertainment given by buskers, such as a ukulele artist with a donkey head mask.
The most popular exhibition venue among tourists is the National Gallery. While foreign visitors represent about 20% of the turnout during the rest of the year, they account for 80% in summertime.
Gallery officials say the foreigners are drawn by the permanent collection, in particular the Impressionists, as well as the gallery's architecture.
Many take a photo of themselves by the original Robba Fountain, which has been moved from the square in front of Town Hall to the glass and steel annexe connecting the old and new wings of the gallery.
The National Gallery attracted 5,628 visitors in May, 6,481 in June and almost 2,000 in July.
While the National Gallery has been chosen the best Ljubljana gallery, the City Museum has been voted the best museum by the readership of the inyourpocket portal. The museum's exhibition New Age Is Coming attracted 862 visitors in July.
The venues of the Ljubljana Museum and Galleries recorded almost 4,150 visitors in July. The biggest number, 922 visited the Plečnik House in Trnovo, which is a big hit among foreigners.
The International Centre of Graphic Arts (MGLC) in Tivoli Park has been seeing a spike in turnout in summertime owning to foreign tourists for the past five years.
The MGLC and the refurbished Švicarija venue nearby showcase the 32nd edition of the international Graphic Biennial, which has seen 6,000 visitors so far.
Moderna Galerija has attracted 11,300 visitors since April, while its affiliated Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova (+MSUM) has drawn 8,400.
"We're happy about the turnout at the shows, ticket sales are up, especially thanks to foreign visitors," the gallery said.
Its most popular show is The Heritage of 1989, an exhibition re-enacting the final Sarajevo art biennial before the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, which has attracted 5,250 since the launch in late April.
Despite the apparent availability of culture and arts in the city, many of the local youngsters will tell you that there is not much going on in Ljubljana.
There is the Metelkova counter-culture centre and the Rog venue at a defunct bicycle factory, as well as the emerging venue at the old Ljubljana tobacco factory complex, but not everyone will be satisfied.
Some like to pick up a book or a magazine and sit back in deckchair in one of the units of Library under the Canopy, Ljubljana's own little invention.
After a lull in the festival season catering for young people in July, the Urban Act festival in Congress Square this week is showcasing the city's subcultures and their music.
Trnfest in the Trnovo borough is another popular festival this time of year, with the more arty crowd getting ready for the Mladi Levi/Young Lions performing arts festival later this month.