'Faces' of Locksmith Street – Ljubljana, Slovenia - Atlas Obscura

'Faces' of Locksmith Street

A trough of 700 strange bronze faces runs through a narrow alley in Ljubljana's old town. 


Ključavničarska ulica, or “Locksmith Street,” is a narrow alley in the medieval old town in the Slovenian capital city. The start of the lane is marked with an image of a key, historically used to note the street name for those that couldn’t read. As you continue down the path, a mysterious sight unfolds.

Cutting through the middle of the cobblestoned street is a gully that appears to be flowing with hundreds of strange little faces. The limbless bronze casts are highly expressive, almost theatrical. Some are happy, some crying, some almost grotesquely distorted. There are 700 of these bronze faces running through the center of the alley, culminating in a drinking fountain and a couple other odd sculptures, namely a bronze hand and a skeleton trapped in a cage.

This surreal scene is the work of the renowned Slovenian sculptor Jakov Brdar, whose bizarre bronze figures can be found throughout Ljubljana. Often, his work is inspired by Greek mythology, as is the case with the sculptures on the Butchers’ Bridge in the center of the city. The faces of Locksmith Street were inspired, however, by a piece of writing by the poet Rainer Maria Rilke. It begins, “To think, for instance, that I have never been aware before how many faces there are. There are quantities of human beings, but there are many more faces, for each person has several.”

Know Before You Go

The "Faces" installation can be seen on the ground of Ključavničarska ulica in Ljubljana's medieval old town. Other bronze pieces sculpted by Jakov Brdar can be spotted throughout the city.

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