The Ghost of Ljubljana’s Past, Present and Future

December 2023 Living

By Alenka Žvikart

Cosy cafes, antique shops, the smell of fresh paint and historical boutiques. Where nostalgia meets the future, and diversity thrives. As Ljubljana dons the Christmas decor, Trubarjeva Street remains hidden from the holiday crowds. Yet, it radiates with authentic festive glee. Nestled in the very heart of the capital, this multicultural yet quaint street is a haven for artists, chefs, diverse cultures, students, and bohemians.

One of Ljubljana’s oldest streets, first mentioned in 1802, Trubarjeva has changed names a few times. Initially named as Nikolausgasse, it became known  as Proštijska Street in 1892. Then, in 1955, it assumed its present-day name, honouring the name of the founder of Slovenian literature and the author of the first Slovenian book, Primož Trubar.

Trubarjeva is dotted with a variety of quirky shops. Slovenia’s oldest umbrella repair shop, still thriving at Trubarjeva 18. Marija Lah, the shop’s owner, is the last umbrella vendor in Ljubljana, overseeing the business for the past 30 years. Originally opened by her father in 1966, Marija took charge of Dežnik after he fell ill. Impressively, Lah manages to repair 98% of the umbrella, while the remaining 2% are converted into sustainable and adorable shopping bags. “In each umbrella, I see the materials and human craftwork, energy and work that has been put into the making-of process,” says Lah.

A Whirlwind of Cultures

Strolling down Trubarjeva, blindfolded, might whisk you away to far-flung corners of the globe, as the tantalizing aromas from nearby restaurants envelop your senses – just watch out for the historic cobblestone beneath your feet! An international culinary tapestry unfolds on the street, featuring diverse kitchens such as Lebanese, Thai, Greek, and more. Among the gems is Abi Falafel, an eye-catching eatery that has graced the street for a decade. Founded by a dynamic father-daughter duo, Hana Shaar, the daughter, hails from a unique blend of Palestinian and Slovenian heritage, a union rooted in her parent’s student days in the former Yugoslavia. Abi Falafel prides itself on using locally sourced ingredients and importing spices, resulting in a vibrant menu encompassing everything from shish kebabs to an array of enticing vegetarian dishes.

Culinary experiences aside, Trubarjeva is also home to important cultural, activist, artistic and educational institutions: the environmental center Focus, autonomous factory Rog, one of the most famous antique shops in Ljubljana – Carniola Antiqua, Slovenian-Serbian Club – Bookstore, Reading Room, Gallery and Antique Shop, House of Experiments and many more. In short – Trubarjeva is a dashing place, appropriate for all occasions, from holiday shopping and fine dining to indulging your mind and soul in more or less alternative cultural events.

Beyond its culinary delights, Trubarjeva encapsulates a vibrant tapestry of cultural, activist, artistic, and educational institutions. Here, you’ll find the environmental hub Focus, the autonomous factory Rog, the renowned antique emporium Carniola Antiqua, and the multifaceted Slovenian-Serbian Club featuring a bookstore, reading room, gallery, and antique shop. Add to this the intriguing science hub House of Experiments and many other establishments, and you have a thorough immersion into the varied cultural landscape. In essence, Trubarjeva is a dynamic locale, suited for every occasion – whether it’s holiday shopping, exquisite dining, or immersing your mind and soul in a spectrum of alternative cultural events.