One of most recognizable buildings in Maribor stands at Glavni trg 1 (Main Square No. 1), where the centre of Maribor’s social life was hosted for most of the 20th century.
The story of the building is closely related to the nearby bridge, now called the Old Bridge. It was built by a German man Ludwig Franz, who had amassed significant wealth by manufacturing pasta, and decided to bring some advanced urban spirit into the city by building a well-equipped up-to-date house at one end of the new bridge which was being constructed.
The completion of the building occurred one month after the opening of the bridge, which was on August 23, 1913. With his brother Ludwig dedicated the house to their mother and named it Cafe Teresienhof (Theresa’s Court Café).
The house was quite advanced for the time, having its own electricity generator, while the café’s services included the possibility of ordering a lunch at the City Square, where it was then delivered by a carriage.
When Adolf Hitler paraded across the main square in 1941, the house was already called Velika Kavarna (Grand Café).
In the fifties and sixties Velika Kavarna was a venue of many pleasant social events for the citizens of Maribor, with many later stars in the Slovenian popular music scene beginning their careers there.
Following this golden age of the Velika Kavarna, a casino came into the building, which went bankrupt in 2009 and left the old café’s salon in not so splendid condition. Apparently, the casino’s management, having no money at hand to pay staff their deserved salaries, decided they could just take with anything valuable they could find on the premises. This is how Velika Kavarna was stripped of its lights and chandeliers.
Years of negotiations and fights over ownership ensued, all slowly inscribing themselves into the walls of the building, until the Grand Café was finally reopened as the Salon of Applied Arts, which decided to preserve the entire history of the place on the walls and equipment and turn the café back into a hangout for everyone curious about history of the house and local design.
Unfortunately, Salon of applied arts closed its doors permanently in July 2019. We wonder what will happen next.