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Friday, December 2, 2022

Garage under the central Ljubljana market

By: Andrej Aplenc

I was told that the “renovation of the central Ljubljana market” will be presented at the market on Thursday morning.

Incredible: from the first day of his term as mayor, Zoran Janković has been working to “renovate the market”, which means the destruction of the more than 150-year-old market, which enjoys the admiration of all foreigners visiting Ljubljana and various professional magazines in Europe. There are no such markets in abundance abroad.

Mayor Janković’s intention to “renovate” the Ljubljana market is contrary to the views of the profession and the provisions of international legal acts. Thus, on January 23rd, 2009, with the participation of representatives of all its classes, the SAZU Council adopted the position that the area of the market should not be interfered with, but that its essential qualities should continue to be carefully protected. The statement was signed by academician Jože Trontelj, then president of SAZU, and academician Marko Mušič, then vice president of SAZU.

The protection of cultural heritage is one of the constitutional values in addition to the principle of democracy, the principle of the legal and social state, the principle of national and state sovereignty and the entire set of values that are in the public interest. Care for natural and cultural heritage and for harmonious civilisational and cultural development, which also includes care for art, ethics and both national and civilisational traditions, together form the constitutional legal starting point of the Republic of Slovenia.

The market is protected by the Decree on the declaration of the medieval city centre of Old Ljubljana (UR list SRS no. 5/86), which states that garages must be built on the outskirts of the protected area and not in its core. The Maltese Convention “The Valetta Principles of Safeguarding and Management of Historic Cities, Towns, and Urban Areas” was ratified by the RS in 1999. This mandates the preservation of archaeological cultural heritage and prohibits any construction intervention that would change, remove, or destroy this heritage. It was created on the initiative of the Council of Europe, and its purpose is to secure the European archaeological heritage. All remains and objects and all traces of the past are marked as elements of archaeological heritage. This includes structures, buildings and monuments and their contents, whether standing on dry land or under water. The purpose of this convention is to ensure that nothing of archaeological value is destroyed during new construction. According to these conventions, cultural remains must be preserved, i.e., at the place of discovery. The plans of the Municipality of Ljubljana and the decisions of the MOL to build a garage under the market are in direct legal conflict with them.

Architects Milan Kovač and Peter Kerševan presented plans on how to preserve the medieval archaeological heritage in the area of Vodnik Square – the market. Their plans are comprehensive and comply with all the international conventions on the preservation of cultural heritage listed above. Here I should only mention that under the pavement of the market, which is the last undefiled archaeological site of medieval Ljubljana, the ruins of the Church of the Assumption of Mary and the tomb of the Auersperg family from Turja are hidden. In addition to this tomb, the church contained tombs from the end of the Middle Ages as well as from the Baroque period in the 17th and 18th centuries. Architects Milan Kovač and Peter Kerševan also propose an underground museum of Roman Emona and a medieval museum, which would protect the fortress of the barbican and the double city walls in the area of the current market.

In addition to the experts of the SAZU Council for the culture and identity of the space of Slovenia, researchers from the France Stele Art Institute ZRC SAZU, the National Council for Culture, members, and experts of the civil initiative “Tržnice ne damo” have already proposed constructive traffic solutions that are in line with European guidelines of urban planning profession. One of them is the garage under the castle hill. The civil initiative “Tržnice ne damo” has obtained expert opinions that the geological composition of the hill bordering Old Ljubljana is very favourable. In this part of the hill, there would be room for slightly more than 2,500 parking spaces, the construction would be much cheaper, and the number of parking spaces would be much larger.

The intention of MOL and Mayor Zoran Janković to build a garage under the market is thus contrary to all Slovenian and international professional opinions and conventions and is irrational. We wonder where the causes of this are.

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