Kiosks in Ljubljana in the past and today

Plečnik's newspaper and tobacco shop, Ljubljana.
Plečnik’s newspaper and tobacco shop.

Ljubljana is unlikely to be described as a city of kiosks. Nevertheless, it does have a kind of love affair with kiosks, as is evident from the published archival photographs. A look at Ljubljana’s kiosks in retrospect reveals how important a part of city life they are (or were), and how much they contributed to the image of the city. They were, and still are, the location surrounded by the bustle of everyday life, the space where people meet, and part of an urban communication that is slightly more personal than that in ordinary shops.

In the past, kiosks with a very different offer reigned on almost every corner, next to city bus stops, next to the train station, on busier streets, in squares … However, there are fewer of them today. According to some kiosk proprietors, at least those who sell newspapers and tobacco products, it is possible to make a living from this business, but for the most part the earnings are not high.

Kiosks dominating the streets of Ljubljana today are quite generic and undistinguishable. However, Yugoslavia, and by extension Ljubljana, had kiosks with character. We are talking about Mächtig’s kiosks, usually red (as well as in other vibrant colours) and made from polyester, the K67, which are considered a great achievement in design. As Slovenia has its own legendary kiosk, we are, of course, considering its revival, setting up several more such kiosks in Ljubljana and elsewhere. The K67 is a cultural heritage that needs to be nurtured, and also recognisable enough to enrich the tourist and overall image of the cities. In Ljubljana, we can still see it today in several locations, for example at the Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre.

There are also three newspaper and tobacco shops designed by Plečnik, which are not kiosks, as they are built and made in Plečnik’s distinctive style. The most famous is Plečnik’s newspaper and tobacco shop next to the Triple Bridge, and recently the magazine Outsider revived Plečnik’s newspaper and tobacco shop on Vegova ulica, while the newspaper and tobacco shop on Hrvatski trg still awaits better times. Outsider magazine also noticed that a reflection on the future of newspaper and tobacco shops and kiosks is needed, announcing a competition titled The Kiosk of the Future.

Selling on the street, year 1962. Ljubljana.
Selling on the street in Ljubljana in 1962. Photo credit: Vlasta Simončič. Photography is from the photo library of National Museum of Contemporary History of Slovenia.
Kiosk in Ljubljana in 1963. Photo credit: Edi Šelhaus. Photography is from the photo library of National Museum of Contemporary History of Slovenia.
Kiosk in Ljubljana in 1963.
Kiosk in Ljubljana in 1963. Photo credit: Marjan Ciglič. Photography is from the photo library of National Museum of Contemporary History of Slovenia.
Waiting for newspaper in Ljubljana in 1976.
Waiting for newspaper in Ljubljana in 1976. Photo credit: Svetozar Bursić. Photography is from the photo library of National Museum of Contemporary History of Slovenia.
Ljubljana in 1965.
Ljubljana in 1965. Photo credit: Marjan Ciglič. Photography is from the photo library of National Museum of Contemporary History of Slovenia.
Saša Mächtig's kiosk in Ljubljana in 1983.
Saša Mächtig’s kiosk in Ljubljana in 1980. Photo credit: Bogo Primožič. Photography is from the photo library of National Museum of Contemporary History of Slovenia.
Plečnik's newspaper and tobacco shop. Ljubljana
Plečnik’s newspaper shop on Vegova street.
Kiosk on central market. Ljubljana
Kiosk on central market.
Saša Mächtig's kiosk in Ljubljana.
Saša Mächtig’s kiosk in Ljubljana.
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