A word about its capital city, Ljubljana: This city is nothing short of incredible. It was a bit unrefined, with lots of local pockets unscathed by big business. It has a charming downtown area with a wonderful cafe scene along the river. Bordering Italy and Austria, it has a bit of Western European flair as well, with far more English spoken than some other Eastern European countries (I’m looking at you, Ukraine). Yet, we enjoyed friendlier prices than we did in Austria.
To say I fell in love with Ljubljana is an understatement. I can’t wait to return someday soon.
With three days, we had time to do some exploring.
Everyone has their “thing” when they travel. Cory likes to check out the local brewery, if there is one.
And I always look into the local street art scene.
Ljubljana doesn’t have oversized building-side murals the way Kyiv does. Instead, the city has two districts that have evolved into creative enclaves.
The Metelkova district was formerly an army barracks. Today, it is a collective of Ljubljana’s hottest nightclubs, bars, performances spaces, and a hostel. The entire area is a feast for the eyes with painted building fronts, benches fashioned with mosaics, and sculptures made of scrap materials throughout the grounds.
A bit closer to the city center is the Rog, a former factory turned public art space. The Rog is grittier than the Metelkova district, and I felt a little uncomfortable on the grounds. There are squatters living in the factory and other abandoned buildings around the courtyard. Also, the Rog doesn’t have established businesses like Metelkova. But even without walking into the Rog’s courtyard, there is a lot of art on the street leading up to it.
Though these are the two areas specifically noted for street art, I always keep my eyes open for unexpected surprises. In addition to its fair share of graffiti, Ljubljana has several small random pieces of street art tucked down alley ways and on side streets.
And, Invader has visited Ljubljana! I found one of his works on the International Centre of Graphic Arts, which held a street art exhibit several years ago (hence, the invaders, I assume). There are two others in the building’s offices, which were unfortunately closed up by the time we arrived. The person working the front desk told me she knows of two others still intact downtown, but we didn’t see either of those.
I wouldn’t say Ljubljana is a destination for the street art seeker, but we definitely appreciated the few pieces we found to add that creative touch to our short stay.