Every city has its own cult district, and for Ljubljana that’s Šiška. Or so they claim in the film Šiška Deluxe. That’s something that some Ljubljana residents agree with, while others don’t. Debates in online forums are heated and reflect the great divide in opinions.
So what is it that Šiška has that other Ljubljana districts don’t?
It has its own song, one that back in 1987 the legendary band Martin Krpan dedicated to it. While loyal fellow countrymen sleep, there are always some for whom the charm of this country is not enough … In the song Is there anything that’s still open in Šiška they do speak of other Ljubljana districts of course, but the one reigning in the title is Šiška. How it got to earn this reign we can’t say, perhaps it’s for its name that’s the most resonant and fun sounding of all Ljubljana’s districts. Yet the subversive undertones in the text, which emerged in the era of disintegrating communism, are obvious.
One other thing that Šiška has and the other city districts don’t, is the mixed urban-village atmosphere. The environment that used to be a village (or two villages, to be exact) and still maintains some of the village elements, is the home of the Centre for Urban Culture Kino Šiška and several other cultural institutions, such as the Vodnik Homestead. A Šiška cultural district is even being designed. This gives the district a cultural, even progressive charge of sorts.
In Šiška there’s also probably the longest street in Ljubljana, Celovška street with all its high-rise residential buildings along it. The people of Ljubljana have generally got used to these, a little less so to that bulky beehive called Celovški dvori.
Šiška is also one large shopping centre, with its two large shopping centres, Aleja and Mercator.
The residents of Šiška are quite the local patriots. There was once a saying: “Once from Šiška, forever from Šiška.” This may originate from the fact that Šiška was once a village.
Šiška also has quite a few great establishments, such as the Lepa žoga bar, Dobra vila pizzeria, Maru Japanese restaurant, and others.
Šiška has Litostroj, which was once the largest factory in Ljubljana. A residential area was built around the factory between the years 1947 and 1951, which was later supplemented with new apartment buildings. Today, the Litostroj residential area is considered a valuable urban heritage.
Šiška also has a lot of greenery, it is considered to be one of the greenest of Ljubljana’s districts. Starting with the Tivoli Park, along Šiška Hill all the way to Mostec. There are also green areas in between the apartment buildings and houses, which alleviates the urban concentration and almost creates the sense of being in the countryside.
What brings Šiška importance is also its size. Once the largest municipality in Ljubljana and perhaps even in Slovenia, today it is the second largest city district in Ljubljana in terms of population – a little over 36,000 people live here.
And, of course: Šiška has the church designed by the great architect Plečnik. Plečnik’s works of art are scattered across many parts of Ljubljana, most of them in the Centre, while only the districts of Šiška and Bežigrad have churches by Plečnik. We could say that Šiška has two even, as in addition to the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, the Old Church also bears the signature of the great architect.