Sparta Place is a quaint and quirky laneway, just off Sydney Road in Brunswick.
It's tree-lined with bench seating, bicycle racks and planter boxes. It has a European style piazza, with public toilets and is home to a series of sweet boutiques stocking all of Melbourne must-have items and accessories. At least one part of Sparta Place has been hit by street artist Shinobi, who has added climbing ninjas to the walls.
Sparta Place was created in 1998 to celebrate the relationship between Moreland and its sister city of Sparta in Greece. Since then, it's become a cool, urban hangout for many. From the young and fashionably dressed, to locals shopkeepers who gather before opening their own stores, to council members and business people conducting early meetings.
Serving breakfast from 8:00am until 3:30pm, Tre Espresso is a popular restaurant-cafe for many Brunswick locals. It has a large window that opens out onto Sparta Place and from it, busy waiters collect coffees to deliver a group of tables, set outdoors, piazza style.
Giving the laneway even more of a Euro-street feel, Tre Espresso employs a live jazz band to appear on weekends. By lunchtime, the sessions are in full swing and customers begin to arrive, not just for baked egg breakfasts, but for Tre Espresso's delicious pizzas as well.
Bust of King Leonardis & 'New Order' Sculpture
Metallic columns and the handsome bust of King Leonidas, act as the ancient guardians of Sparta Place
King Leonidas was the ancient Greek hero who led the Spartans to victory in the Battle of Thermophylae. During 2006, King Leonidas was depicted by Gerard Butler in the film '300'. The King stands in Sparta Place to symbolise the enduring friendship between the Pallaconian Brotherhood & Moreland City Council.
In addition to his monument, five columns adorn the laneway. Although paying homage to, they are actually a far cry from their ancient counterparts as they are made out of metal rather than stone and filled with shining colanders, woks, plates, rusted muffin trays, pots and pans. Artist Louise Lavarack explains her use of kitchenware in the work by writing 'great societies evolve from domestic hearths'. The statement is particularly true of the laneway, which has a community feel. Each small business owner knows the one next door and they chat away happily to each other.
This sweet, little store trades in 'contemporary Australian jewellery and bags from near and far'. It's like visiting an art gallery to wander in and look at all of the delicately made pieces, each shelf and display cabinet containing a description of the artist and the meaning behind their work.
Arbor Jewels also has a number of decor and gift items like pine cone candles, resin rings, letterpress paper, cards, ceramic bowls and more. It's lovely, that in the midst of all the big name jewellery empires like Tiffany's and Cartier, who churn out so many of their designs across the world that the pieces lose all exclusivity, a store like Arbor Jewels can give priority to items that are as rare and individual as the moments they are designed to celebrate.
Jessicakes on the corner offers gorgeous, special occasion cakes, carved into shapes with fun, fondant icing. She will take orders for weddings, christenings, birthdays, corporate events and make cupcakes stacks. You can sit down at tables in the Jessicakes display room over the weekend and collaborate in creating your cake design.
The Hardwick Building was constructed in 1908 and was designed by the same architects responsible for Myer's Bourke Street Store and the iconic Dimmey's Store in Swan Street, Richmond with the ball shaped clock tower.
You enter Insegna International Languages Bookshop through a set of arched, timber doorways. Inside you'll find thousands of Italian, French, Spanish, Greek, German, Turkish, and Arabic titles, that you are not going to be able to locate anywhere else as easily.
There are children's picture story books, board games, courses, plays and grammar exercises. Energetic proprietor Tom Padula is the best to help you out with any of your Language Other Than English needs. He is a passionate educator, author and publisher with over 30 years experience.
Insegna International Languages Bookshop is open to the public from 10:00am - 1:00pm on Saturdays only, however many of their materials are available during the week via the Insegna Online Store.