Metelkova City is a popular public place in Ljubljana. Known as a centre of alternative culture – ironically – it became a popular mainstream tourist attraction.
While strolling the streets of Ljubljana you get to admire numerous architecture styles – from grand baroque churches, neoclassical structures, amazingly beautiful Art Nouveau buildings and dull socialist flats to modern glass skyscrapers. Like most European capitals, Ljubljana has been rebuilt several times over the past centuries and in that process new art forms have always found a way to be represented. Such is the case with the so-called alternative culture, whose members found their place in the old military barracks and made them their own. As soon an you walk into the courtyard of Metelkova City you instantly feel the artistic vibe. But like all art forms, Metelkova City is much more than what your eyes see – it’s not just a group of colourful and graffiti wearing buildings – it’s a movement.
Ekorna Travel Agency is a local expert on trips to Slovenia and the whole Balkan area. Our forte is preparing tailor-made tours, mainly for more curious travellers seeking unique experiences – and vising Metelkova City is defensively one of them. Contact us for more information and we will be happy to add this amazing artistic neighbourhood to your personalise guided tour of Ljubljana.
for a tailor-made tour of Ljubljana
The military barracks that now serve more artistic purposes are part of a wider military complex built in the times of The Austro-Hungarian Empire. Later it became the Slovenian headquarter of the Yugoslav National Army who moved out after Slovenia gained Independence in 1991. Seven smaller – then empty – buildings have been squatted two years later when a network of more than 200 alternative and youth organisations, decided to transform this place into a cultural centre. Since then the area has become known as a shelter to numerous artists and a site of wide tolerance. It is fair to say that Metelkova City has been playing an important role in boosting acceptance towards all minorities in the Slovenian society.
As opposed to the larger buildings of this complex, which were later renewed by the government to house Ethnographic museum and other state institutions, these barracks never got a licence to operate. Moreover, the city officials were planing to demolish them, which lead to a conflict with its residents. One of the buildings was torn down in 2006 but after a huge protest by the artist and relatively strong public support, the agreement of co-existence has been reached. Metelkova City continues to practice its unofficial status as an autonomous zone, while the state turns a blind eye to the matter.
Metelkova City is a face of tolerance in Ljubljana
Since then the artist residing in these buildings were managing themselves, creating a small independent city where art and urban culture are the main focal points. Once we submerge its streets we begin to feel this bohemian and transgressive atmosphere that is radiating from the wacky sculptures, paintings, and other stagings. Part of the area is also considered as National Cultural Heritage.
Metelkova is composed of different buildings that house clubs or associations. These spaces are used to host different activities such as workshops, concerts, lectures,… The most spacious one is Gala Hala where over 100 concerts a year are held, mostly alternative music. Another characteristic building is the Channel Zero, perhaps one of the oldest platforms in Metelkova City which hosts all kinds of events: from musicals to theatre and poetry performances.
Metelkova City in Ljubljana is significant for giving young people a space to develop their art, whatever the form. Many come here to rehearse with their bands, to paint or organise all kinds of activities. There is even an art gallery – Alkatraz Gallery – where young artists are given a chance to exhibit their works. It is here where the most radical and critical works on the European scene are exposed. Other important clubs are Monokel and Tiffany, both organising lectures and exhibitions of lesbian and gay culture.
Another interesting building is Hostel Celica, also called the Cell where many backpacker who visit Slovenia opt to spend the night. Are you wondering about the name? Yes, it was once an old military prison. Today it is completely renovated but many details of the old prison are still there. Each room is unique and even though they are not very big the atmosphere is assured.
Metelkova City definitely is an interesting place to visit during the day, but it is even more awesome to check out its night scene. Especially in the summer months its courtyard is full of easy-going people who will gladly welcome you into their midst. Peek into one of the bars with locally brewed and super affordable beer. If you’re brave enough, we challenge you to try the famous Bear Blood, which honestly no one knows what it is made from.
The tour of Metelkova City is just on of the alternatives or complements to the classical tour of Ljubljana that we offer at Ekorna Travel Agency. You can also explore this wonderful city on a food tour, a bike tour or even a boat tour. Let us know you special interests and we will make sure to include them into your tailor made-tour of Ljubljana and the whole of Slovenia.
for a tailor-made tour of Slovenia