Photo: Miran Kambič
A Living Room with a Red Carpet
by Tina Gradišer
The marketplace in Ptuj, with its high-quality renovation, offers citizens a new community space for socialising and coexistence.
In the past, a large building used as a military barracks stood on the site of today’s marketplace in Ptuj. Walking past the barracks, you would find yourself in narrow streets with a medieval feel, mostly unpaved, and here and there you would stumble upon a muddy drain paved with Drava river stones. At the intersection of the dark and narrow streets, you could occasionally catch a glimpse of the impressive spire of St George’s Church, which – as evidence suggests – had existed there, at least in its primal form, long before, and had a Roman local road running past it as early as the 1st century AD. This southeastern part of Ptuj is one of the oldest parts of the city, and has been constantly changing over the years, either due to the construction of new houses, demolition of old ones or devastating fires. At that time, such radical changes in space seem to have been normal, natural, part of the growth of the city and a normal process of transformation of the building fabric and open space. Perhaps the inhabitants accepted the changes more readily then because they were more frequent?
The Mala Kasarna – Small Barracks – was located below the raised platform of St George’s Church and considered one of the largest buildings in Ptuj at that time. In 1760, the Small Barracks obtained an adjacent building with dedicated flats, thus effectively completing the building stock. Before the First World War, the 300-year-old Small Barracks and the adjacent building were demolished precisely because of the need for a larger open community space. After the demolition of the building around 1913, the formerly narrow streets, which only in some places offered a view of the church bell tower, became a gaping void at the crossroads of two important roads running through Ptuj. Today, the open space of the square is surrounded by Miklošičeva Street on one side and Slomškova Street on the other.