Last week, while on holiday, I learnt that Slovenia’s capital city is European Green Capital 2016. What does the city do in order to sustain this title?
Strolling down the streets of the city, I start to like Ljubljana from the very beginning. Beautifully, old buildings, broad streets, pretty squares, flowers, friendly people and a lot of green. It’s a small and cozy city and at the same time Ljubljana feels as spacious as any other capital. Along the river there are nice pubs and restaurants, street artists till late at night and on top of the hill there is a big castle and its green dragon, looking over and protecting her citizens at night. Ljubljana is alive and vibrant and as well from a cultural point of view it has a lot to offer.
There is something else about this city and when I learn that Ljubljana is European Green Capital 2016, things fall into place: there is no traffic in the city center. Parking is largely confined to underground car parks. The streets are clean and there are multiple bins for separating garbage.
Many shops and restaurants serve organic and homemade produce. Once in a while you can see a free electric taxi driving by and public bicycles only cost you 3 euros per year. At the campsite they give you two different bags when checking in to separate your garbage.
“Ljubljana, once dominated by car transport, has become a city focused on public transport, pedestrian access and cycling networks.” – Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries
I walk into a small information point, covered in plants, and the woman inside tells me about the impact of several changes made thus far. Topics such as water and waste management, energy efficieny, transport, ecological innovations and air quality, are all touched. With the funding that comes with receiving the Europe Green Capital title, Ljubljana continues working on her set goals toward 2025.
Furthermore, there is Ljubljana’s electric car sharing, provided by Avantcar. The electricy itself comes partly from renewable sources: Avantcar provides power from its own solar facilities.
Also a must know: there is a daily farmer’s market (except on Sundays) at Vodnik Square (Vodnikov trg) plus an organic market on Saturday.
Finally, there is a campaign in Ljubljana that aims to support urban bee-keeping: “Let’s help the little city bee” (Pomagajmo cebelici v mestu). There have been several events organized to increase awareness of the ecological importance of bees. One that took place at the beginning of April encouraged residents to plant flowers on their windows and balconies to provide extra foraging opportunities for honey bees and native wild bee populations. To support the campaign, the city organized an event for the public where flowering plants were sold.
I didn’t know anything about Ljubljana before my visit: now I can say it is one of the most beautiful cities I have been. Na svidenje Ljubljana, upam da se kmalu spet screčava – good bye Ljubljana, hope we meet again soon!
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For more information about Ljubljana as European Green Capital 2016, please see http://www.greenljubljana.com.