Wednesday, 16. 3. 2011

'Congress Square in the 20th century' exhibition

On Tuesday 15 March an exhibition entitled 'Congress Square in the 20th century' opened at S Gallery at Ljubljana Castle.

This is the seventh exhibition that the Slovenian Museum of Contemporary History has prepared in partnership with Festival Ljubljana, and from this year on with Ljubljana Castle.

The Kongresni trg, or Congress Square, area took on its current appearance at the start of the 19th century. At that time, the Congress of the Holy Alliance refurbished land upon which the Capuchin monastery had stood, filled in ditches and demolished dilapidated buildings. The Congress of Laibach (as Ljubljana was then known) in 1821 was attended by the Emperor of Austria, the Russian Czar, the King of Naples and many other political leaders.

Mayor of Ljubljana Hradecki set out a park on the northern fringe of the square in 1824. Trees were planted along paths that intersected from eight directions. The park took on the form of a star, and thus it is still known today as Zvezda or Star Park.

Congress Square has had various names through the ages. Prior to the congress it was known as Capuchin Park. After the Second World War it was renamed Revolution Square and then Liberation Square. In 1991 it reacquired its old name of Congress Square.

Via forty selected photographs, the exhibition is to showcase certain highlights from Slovenian political life that have connections with Congress Square. The everyday events that are also shown, of which there are more than a few, are also interesting. Some are reminders of the pigeons in Star Park; others are of young people sitting on the grass, and others of people getting off buses while on trips from elsewhere in Slovenia and abroad.

Prior to the First World War the square saw parades of the Austro-Hungarian Army, and in 1918 a magnificent choir upon the fall of the monarchy and the establishment of the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs. In 1940 a monument to King Alexander I was erected, which was torn down the following year by Italian occupying forces. On Liberation Day in 1945 the Slovenian Partisan Army marched through the Square and later the same month Josip Broz Tito addressed the assembled crowds from the balcony of the university building. The square has been the scene of numerous post-war political rallies and demonstrations, social and sporting events as well as landmark events both before and since Slovenian independence.

The 'Congress Square in the 20th century' exhibition is opened by Deputy Mayor of Ljubljana Prof Janez Koželj.

The exhibition runs until 1 May 2011, from 10am to 7pm. Admission is free.