|Photo credit: The article.|
The landscape of my blogging milieu is littered with half-finished series of essays documenting past travels. Among these sketches are bits documenting my only visit to Ljubljana in 1987.
It was Yugoslavia then, and now independent Slovenia, and as I was reading Niranan’s article about Metalkova, it occurred to me to find the location at Google Maps.
Metalkova, the former army installation, lies right across the street from Ljubljana’s train station, and this provides a direct connection with my late night arrival, way back when.
How an abandoned barracks in Ljubljana became Europe’s most successful urban squat, by Ajit Niranjan (The Guardian)
Just across the river from the sleepy old-town of central Ljubljana – a delicate maze of cobbled streets, medieval fortifications and colourful churches that characterise the many cities once occupied by the former Austro-Hungarian Empire – lie the dozen or so dilapidated buildings that make up what has become known as Slovenia’s second capital. On first glance, it is hard to believe it’s actually occupied. There are no signs directing visitors to its gates: the rubbish-strewn streets are eerily empty in the daylight, the graffiti covering the walls unread. But after dark, it becomes the focal point of the country’s alternative culture scene.
This is Metelkova Mesto – one the largest, and arguably most successful, urban squats in Europe. Sprawled across 12,500 sq m of an abandoned army base, the self-proclaimed city has become the leading centre of underground music and art in the region. Vivid, cracked-tile mosaics adorn the walls of the complex’s galleries and studios; rusty sculptures, fashioned from broken bike frames and upturned oil drums, cover its concrete gardens. And at night thousands of students and artists congregate to revel in its streets and bars.
Every year Metelkova Mesto hosts more than 1,500 alternative events in its illegally occupied buildings, catering to a wide spectrum of subcultures, from theatre performances and punk concerts to disability workshops and LGBT club nights. Together with the adjacent museum district, owned by the Slovenian Ministry of Culture – its vast courtyard showcasing the more traditional side of local nightlife, with young couples swing-dancing in the evening sun – the former barracks occupies a special place in the nation’s hearts.