Few hundred meters away from Ljubljana’s main train station, stands Metelkova Mesto, a worldwide known center for alternative cultures established in a former military headquarter. This adventure started in 1993, when a group of punk artists and activists decided to squat this 12 500m² abandoned building complex and transform it into an ‘Autonomous cultural zone’. They built from scratch this whole universe, with its public spaces, an hostel and many cultural activities including a museum, bars, concert venues, nightclubs, artists studios etc.
Metelkova is now one of the most vivid and eccentric place in Eastern Europe, a melting pot where globetrotters and locals can party, debate and discover the underground art scene. It can be describe as a city within the city, that embodies the ideal of a non-violent, welcoming and self-organised community, which contrasts with the much more polished and conservative image attached to Slovenia.
Here, there is no hierarchy, each member can contribute to the decision making process and revenues from events and various activities are used to cover utilities expense and reinvested in ambitious projects . Through their creative freedom, Metelkova fiercely stands against all sorts of discrimination. It represents a shelter for members of the LGBT community, ethnic minorities and is also part of the ‘Refugees Welcome’ movement.
But despite its undeniable success, Metelkova has no legal status and, therefore, remains threatened by developers and political authority. In 1997 and 2006 two buildings were demolished upon the government’s request. But soon after, the site was declared as national cultural heritage, which prevents any further demolition. The municipality is even considering acquiring Metelkova, which would probably alter the identity of this unique place.