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Central Stadium in Bežigrad (year 2006)

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Central stadium in Bežigrad (1923-39), Ljubljana
Jože Plečnik made plans for the Orlov Stadium in 1923, but already the work was very slow due to unreliable funding. The brick wall was built in 1925, and the honorable tribune was not built until 1935. The stadium was not meant for "balloon" football but for sports activities.
Bežigrad Stadium (also known as the Central Stadium (Bežigrad), or Plečnik Stadium) is a sports stadium, which was built in 1925 for the Catholic gymnastics organization Orel, designed by Jože Plečnik. Due to lack of funds and political reasons (dissolution of the Eagle in 1929, World War II), construction was slow and was not fully completed until after World War II, when it was taken over by the Slovenian Sports Association. Prior to that, it was owned by the Order of the Cross. The project for the stadium, especially for gymnasts and athletes, was designed by architect Jože Plečnik and completed by his student Ivan Pengov. They used the existing gravel pit along Dunajska cesta and the orientation of the plot in the east-west direction. Due to the lack of money, the Stadion cooperative started the construction phase. In 1925, a brick fence was built on the south, north and west sides, which Plečnik interrupted at the top with a double wreath, and the wall was pierced with arched bricks. Every five meters, a plaque was placed in the wall, with a decorative cube and a ball with a tip on it. He highlighted the west side and moved the main entrance toward the arena by the width of the two side entrances. In 1926, a site was built with an entrance covered colonnade with interesting round profiled logs along Dunajska cesta. An avenue of trees was planted between the road and the entrance canopy. Money for the stadium was also raised through a lottery; the first prize was a villa behind Bežigrad, for which the architect Plečnik also made plans. Subsequently, gradual additions were made to the west side and terrace seats were installed on the south side. After the abolition of all gymnastic societies in 1929, work on the Eagle Stadium was suspended. For the needs of organizing the Eucharistic Congress in 1935, construction continued and the gym was transformed into an open arena for the Catholic Congress. Plečnik was assisted in the execution of the works by Anton Suhadolc. Because they needed a tribune for the altar, Plečnik performed a kind of two-storey gloriette at the end of the arena with a rustified pedestal, a floor and a walking, scenic terrace, which is the roof of the central floor. The terrace was surrounded by a balustrade and Doric columns, as well as smaller columns in the upper level, which is the only example of a inserted colonnade in Plečnik's oeuvre. In place of the later added clock and sports score display, there is a smaller cross stand. Individual connoisseurs of Plečnik believe that this work was a turning point for the master's architecture of the 1930s, although it took more than a decade to complete and was never completely completed with all the planned facilities within the stadium wall. After the Congress, between 1939 and 1941, seats were set up on the north side. For the Congress of Christ the King, two smaller buildings were built with a terrace on the north and south sides, which were to represent the music pavilions. A year before the end of World War II, the Home Guard, under the leadership of Leon Rupnik and with the permission of the owner, the Catholic Church, took an oath to fight together with Germany against the Communists and their allies as an auxiliary SS unit. One of the oaths was on Hitler's birthday. After the war, according to ancient models, they completed the seats on semicircular ends. The athletics arena has been adapted several times, redecorated in the core, because a green area for playing football has been arranged in the middle of the arena. Much later, other equipment was installed, such as plastic seats (now removed) and spotlights on high metal towers, which operated until early 2008. The last and current majority owner, Bežigrajski športni park, closed the stadium in 2008 and began reconstruction and modernization planning, and construction has not yet started due to complications with the environmental permit and surrounding residents. Attempts to speed up the renovation with the help of international organizations have not been successful. Bežigrad was the home stadium of the Interblock Ljubljana club and until the completion of the stadium in Stožice NK Olimpija Ljubljana. The stadium hosted matches of the Slovenian national football team until, due to wear and tear, it no longer met FIFA requirements for international matches. Then the national team matches were moved to the Celje Arena Petrol Football Stadium in Celje. The owner of the Interblock club Joc Pečečnik announced the renovation of the stadium, which is expected to be completed in 2010 or 2011. The project would significantly change the entire stadium area, especially with garage floors and a large high-rise building very close to the stadium. However, during the design and search for building permits, a new Ljubljana stadium was built in Stožice with a capacity of 16,000 spectators, which took over athletes and spectators. A very ambitious plan of the German architectural firm GMP from Berlin was selected in a public, invited competition for renovation and extension. This remains controversial due to extensive encroachment on the monumental substance and fierce opposition from residents of nearby blocks opposing any encroachment on new garages, a large stadium, the erection of a very high tower near the stadium and especially new blocks in gardens that once belonged to nearby blocks. The stadium is the victim of opposition and excessive ambitions of the owners. sources:
Description of the Immovable Cultural Heritage Unit, record number 393 ". Reviewer of the Register of Cultural Heritage (Cultural Heritage Protection Act, Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia, No. 16/2008). Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia.  

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