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Here be dragons!

24.02.2017 | Fiona Thompson

Shrovetide is not just about the kurenti. Every year at Shrovetide the Dragon Festival takes place through the streets of Ljubljana and while the kurenti do make an appearance in their shaggy costumes to chase away the last days of winter, the festival features other mythical figures too.

The dragon is of course the symbol of the city of Ljubljana and features most famously on the Dragon Bridge that crosses the Ljubljanica near the central market. The story goes that when a virgin crosses the bridge, the dragons will turn their heads!

A dragon also appears on the coat of arms of the city of Ljubljana and if you look closely you'll see decorative dragons among the ornamental elements of Ljubljana Castle (see photo below). Even the city's football team, Olimpija is nicknamed the Green Dragons.

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The connection of Ljubljana with dragons goes all the way back to the legend of Jason and the Argonauts. When Jason stole the Golden Fleece from the king of the Black Sea it was hurriedly taken away up the river Danube on the ship the Argo, and eventually onto the Ljubljanica which flows through the Slovenian capital. It was winter and they decided to camp near what is now Ljubljana. While they were there a dragon appeared which Jason valiantly fought and defeated: as a result, Jason became the first citizen of Ljubljana.

So, next time you walk across the Dragon Bridge, you'll know why it is a symbol of Ljubljana!



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