Loony, lovely Ljubljana
Kuma wanted to explore the region, so we went to Slovenia last weekend. Why Slovenia? Because I wanted her to see the next hotspot for Balkan tourism. Slovenia is pretty and small enough to explore thoroughly by car. It has something for everyone: castles, beaches, caves, and picturesque views. Even the pickiest eater could enjoy Slovenian cuisine, given its Italian, German, Hungarian and Slavic history.
Readers might remember that Muz and I went to Ljubljana in December and saw a wacky holiday light display juxtaposed against the gorgeous 18th and 19th century architecture of Old Town. I noted that Slovenia’s public art was memorable, if not odd.
My second visit there did not disappoint. We walked to Butcher’s Bridge, a recently completed foot bridge in Old Town connecting the old fish and meat market pavilions. The bridge was planned in the 1930s, but war halted the project. The bridge was completed this spring. Shortly after it opened, people began to hang locks on the wires of the bridge to signify their enduring love. Some of the locks have names or dates etched on them. There’s no sign of removing them. At first it looks like random vandalism, but it’s somehow fitting for the slightly industrial bridge.
Butcher’s Bridge also features statutes by Slovenian sculptor Jakov Brdar. Many have religious or mythological roots. Despite the “love locks.” don’t expect romance from the art. A prominent statue is a disemboweled Prometheus. Savvy mythologists (oxymoron?) may remember that Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to mankind. Zeus punished him by chaining him to a rock and allowing an eagle to eat his intestines. The next day, the intestines would regenerate and the eagle would return. Gross.
Is it commentary on animals eating people? A reminder not to mess with Zeus? It’s not quite clear–but it’s certainly interesting. Other statues are equally gruesome. Odd skulls and mating toads offered discomforting but unforgettable company as we walked from the Market to Prešeren Square.
Ljubljana is a fun, funky mix of quirky and staid. Hipster bars are wedged between stores selling fine jewelry and expensive baby clothing. A death metal band performed a block from the classical music school. And a bridge designed in 1930 was built to hold skulls and locks. Ljubljana may be small, but it’s full of surprises.