Butchers’ Bridge in Ljubljana

I first saw love locks, or padlocks used as declarations of eternal love, in South Korea. The wire fence on the N’Seoul Tower overlooking the city has thousands of padlocks and bike chains affixed to it by Korean lovers. I thought it was an adorable idea (because I thought Koreans were adorable).

Then I started seeing padlocks on bridges everywhere: in Rome, Prague, Cologne and on the Pont des Arts in Paris. The novelty wore off, and I stopped looking for them and taking pictures.

That is, until I arrived in Ljubljana, Slovenia, the first stop on this year’s Big Trip. In the pristine, charming center of this little gem of a city, one bridge made me sit up and take notice of love locks again. It’s called Mesarski Most, or Butchers’ Bridge.

At first glance it looks like a fairly small and ordinary bridge, marked only by the be-tailed bronze figure who looks like he’s ah-ah-ah-ah-stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive. 
The ubiquitous padlocks are present, some of them hung rather unimaginatively along the steel ropes of the bridge. But as far as the art of love-locking is concerned, these are the low-hanging fruit. 
Look closer. Because these babies are where you want to lock your love. 

Kick-ass. Bronze. Prehistoric. Creatures. How awesome are these?!

For the first time ever, I found myself regretting not having a padlock to fix on a bridge. And I am so not into that kind of thing. But I could totally get into protecting our love with a set of sharp bronze jaws.

These thoroughly fascinating grotesques are the creations of Slovene sculptor Jakov Brdar. In addition to the fossil-like creatures, Brdar’s art appears all over Butchers’ Bridge, such as these flat bronze pebbles with faces, which were strewn along the railings…

… and three visually arresting sculptures: Prometheus, the Satyr, and Adam and Eve.

Later, Marlon and I happened upon another work by Brdar at the Ljubljana central station, where we caught a late afternoon train to Maribor. One look at this grille set into the ground and there was no mistaking it was by the same artist. It’s a memorial to James Joyce, who spent one night at the Ljubljana central station on his way to Trieste, Italy on October 19, 1904.

If you’d like to read the quote that’s engraved on it, I found a much better quality photo over at Piran Cafe
Old towns in Europe are always charming, but they can start to run together after a few too many. It’s things like this—a mix of old and new that, while on the odd side, actually works—that make Ljubljana an instant standout. And call me weird, but seeing this within an hour of my arrival told me that after my first visit 12 years ago, that I was going to fall in love with Slovenia all over again.
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