Shoes on High

As I walked around Ljubljana I noticed (what to me) was an unusual sight of shoes dangled across overhead cables and wires. I had never seen anything like it before and was curious to find out why they had been placed in that way. My searches have not revealed how or when this behavior started but according to local folklore

In Ljubljana, there are many streets with shoes on a wire. The origins were explained in another Ljubljana spot where shoes were hung up over the Cobblers’ bridge in the city centre. But lately each and every one of them was removed by the municipality, even though they were popular tourist attraction. On Trubarjeva cesta, exactly the same street where the Dežnik shop is as well (check the Dežnik article), there are several wires spanned across the street where hanging shoes remain present. The origins of the latter were unknown to me until recently.

I visited a shoe-maker, who lives next to the Umbrella-maker in this street. Her story behind the hanging shoes was fun to get to know. She explained that the first pair of shoes were hung by herself and instantly her shop became regularly visited. The second pair were hung by a lawyer and the next day he got his first job. The third one by a ballet dancer, and the rest followed. The custom spread fast and nowadays nobody knows anymore whether they appear due to life changing situations of their late wearers or because of any other state of mind. I think the shoe-maker may be hiding some details, we ought to know. :)

Recently the “shoe-hanging” custom became quite a hit as pairs multiply from day to day. As for me, I once hung a pair of my worn out shoes and left barefoot. For the time being nothing has changed yet, but one ever knows.

Shoes Over Graffiti

15 Comments CherryPie on Jan 26th 2016

15 Responses to “Shoes on High”

  1. James Higham says:

    Ah, thought it might be something to do with birds.

  2. Chrysalis says:

    Here’s the reasons given for doing so in America – I wish I could report it was as whimsical and fun as the explanations you’ve found in Slovenia :)

    The part about the movie “Wag the Dog” and Albania is similar to the reason I was told about why this is done in urban areas in America – to memoralize someone who has passed, either in the line of duty or as part of gang activity.

    I’ve also heard the one about rival gang members just doing this as a taunt to the other gang, or sometimes a gang’s own shoes to symbolize the beginning of gang turf and not to cross the area. Regardless, when we Americans see these shoes in urban areas, we know better than to go there, it’s not usually a safe area;)

    With the graffiti stuff, I did wonder if it was gang related, but perhaps it’s just us Americans that tend to create the maximum amount of drama out of nothing at all – we are home to Hollywood, after all;)

    Wiki, being Wiki, does also note the existence of “shoe trees”, but doesn’t bother to give a reason except that to insinuate those are considered some sort of art. But hey, at least that reason is happier one?

    • CherryPie says:

      On our arrival in Ljubljana the hotel receptionist gave us two recommended routes to walk into town. One route took us past the graffiti, shoes on high and the historical dragon bridge. So I think the shoes must be quite innocuous :-)

  3. ....peter:) says:

    i love the story that the cobbler made up Cherie… i have seen this custom on many university campuses in Canada… i love your second image with the shops along the curve in the road…peter:)

    • CherryPie says:

      I suspected the graffiti in this area was down to students due to the local student accommodation. From what you say, they are probably responsible for the shoes too :-)

  4. Ginnie says:

    I have seen them from time to time, Cherry, but always saw them as pranks or just someone having fun…never the gang stuff. Did you ever see the movie “Big Fish” with Ewan McGregor and Albert Finney? I think you’d love it…and you’d definitely see the shoe scene. :)

    • Chrysalis says:

      Oh yeah! I’d forgotten about that, that’s a great movie and a great reason! Thanks for the reminder – OK, let’s go with that, I like that best:)

      Perhaps there aren’t just cultural reasons, but individual reasons, known only to the “thrower” – like casting a penny in a wishing well. But it’s interesting the different folklores that grew around them.

      Well I’m gonna start a new reason – I’m gonna throw my shoes on a wire with a little sign on them that says “Go to Cherie’s Place,” as both advertisement for Cherie and invitation for people to come here and have people explain why they personally threw somebody’s shoes over a wire ;)

      (I hope this doesn’t post twice, I got a cookie error on the first attempt)

    • CherryPie says:

      I have not seen that film but after looking it up, it sounds interesting :-)

  5. Ayush says:

    as long as they do not stink up that stretch of road or send smells wafting through the windows, CP! terrific photo opportunity and story though

  6. Mandy says:

    Oh, I love this! How charming! I’m glad they have returned in spite of the attempts to remove them.

  7. J_on_tour says:

    How strange. It reminds me of the next street where I grew up, there were a pair of shoes hanging over a telegraph wire for what seemed like 10 years.
    Looks like a different kind of graffiti in this image. !!