What do you get when you take away societal norms and merge like-minded individuals with art, music and an entire underground scene that can go entirely unnoticed to people should they not walk down Metelkova 3 Street in Ljubljana, the capital of the tiny Central European country of Slovenia?
Located a quick walk from the center of Ljubljana, it has created one of the hottest underground scenes in all of Europe and today is a place where youth mingle, bands perform, beers are swilled at funky bars, NGOs work and art abounds.
Before the art
Of course, this vibrant enclave wasn’t always the heart of the action. Like Hostel Celica, Metelkova was once a part of military barracks that began to waste away. It wasn’t until the Network for Metelkova was created in 1990, formed by more than 200 organizations as a part of the Movement for the Culture of Peace and Non-Violence and the ŠKUC Association, one of the country’s top organizations for the promotion of non-profit artistic activities that this cultural center and massive underground scene began to take shape.
In 1991, the Network for Metelkova formally petitioned the Slovene government to take over the site, and while some promises were whispered regarding the area being handed over, nothing really changed. Two years later, over the course of Sept. 10 and 11, 1993, around 200 people gathered to prevent the destruction of the area and moved in to the neighborhood.
The rest is history.
Since 1995, Metelkova has been a self-ogranized autonomous zone where the squatters work together, decide together and live in this little neighborhood … together.
By day, Metelkova is a relatively quiet scene with explorers on bikes pedaling through the small area or late-teens and 20-somethings sitting around sipping beer on a warm day outside of art studios.
When I’m there, it is pretty peaceful and it is easy to get distracted by the vast array of art splayed on nearly every inch of building.
The art in Metelkova rivals that of Berlin, although Berlin’s street art scene is far larger of an area than the tiny autonomous community I explore in Ljubljana.
By night, the entire area comes alive with dub-step competing with rock competing with banter of those simply enjoying all the area has to offer.
And it has quite a lot to offer.
Metelkova is home to heaps of cultural organizations, including KUD Anarhiv, a “social space for the research and development in the theory and practice of anarchistic and related movements,” the KUD Mreža Arts and Culture Association, as well as galleries, a cafe, market, workshops, NGOS and more.
This area lives and breathes with vigor and vibrance, and simply walking through I can feel the passion and energy thumping out of every crevice.
From the train or bus station, exit and head right, following the signs towards Hostel Celica. The hostel is within the autonomous zone of Metelkova. To view on Google Maps, click here.
This post is part of the D Travels Europe (and Israel) series. Stay up-to-date on all of my adventures by following along on Twitter (#dtravelseurope), Instagram,Trover, G+ and Facebook. And, for a look at the health and wellness side of European travel, be sure to follow along at The Comfort Zone Project and on TCZP’s Facebook.