If you come to Ljubljana, you must visit The Dragon Bridge. It is beautiful, very old, memorable, and has a legend attached to it. Many people want to visit it and some think it is a must-see if you are in Ljubljana.
The Dragon Bridge was named the Jubilee Bridge of Emperor Franz Joseph I and opened in 1901. But the bridge has 4 large dragons and many more small ones to see as you walk across. Because of the 20 dragons, it was renamed after them only ten years later. It does have another name, too. Some people call it “mother-in-law” because of the dragons. Some people find that quite funny!
This bridge replaced a wooden one and it was the first paved bridge in all of Slovenia. It was also one of the first concrete bridges in all of Europe. The bridge was renovated from 1983-1984 to make the concrete lighter and safer since vehicles drive over it and that was not something the architect had planned for a century ago!
One of the legends about the bridge is that the Greek Hero known as Jason – the leader of the Argonauts – is the founder of Ljubljana. When their boat was too big to travel in the shallow waters of the Ljubljana River, he decided it would be best for his crew to dismantle the ship and carry it, piece by piece, to a larger body of water. But it was winter and Jason decided he and the Argonauts should stay where they were and wait for warmer temperatures. While here, they built an village and Jason slayed a dragon living in a marsh near the Ljubljana River. Since then it has become the trademark of my home city. The dragon graces everything from stories and songs to our license plates, and government things like the city flag and emblem. Since the dragon Jason killed was fearsome, our dragons on the bridge look the same.
Another story is more of a silly one than a real epic tale. This legend claims that if a virgin walks across the bridge, the dragons wag their tails! While I cannot say that I have ever seen this happen, I do think it is a fun story and many people walk across the bridge and make it a point to laugh about the tails and look to see if they can make the tails move.
When you come visit me and see dragons everywhere, remember the story of Jason and you’ll know why we are so proud of this part of our history. Also take a walk across The Dragon Bridge and experience the legend for yourself. Be sure to take a picture with one of our famous dragons!