In the previous post, I wrote of the outing I took to Devin Castle with my Slovak friend, Milan. Those ruins were just one part of our larger trip to Bratislava. We toured much of the city and I learned a lot that I hadn’t over my two previous visits to the city.
One of our first stops was the Pyramid, among Bratislava’s most iconic structures. In 1967, a team of Slovak architects began to design the ambitious project. The Pyramid is home to the public broadcasting service of Slovakia, RTVS (Radio and Television – Slovakia) and Milan knew it well because his father works for them as a journalist. Despite having been included on a list of the world’s 30 ugliest buildings, designers from the country defend its ingenuity to this day. I, for one, happen to quite like the building. It isn’t exactly attractive, but it is extremely intriguing and rather impressive.
The Old Bridge
Contrary to its name, the Old Bridge is well maintained and fairly modern looking. It boasts lovely views of the city and is likely the best walk over the Danube in all of Slovakia.
The Saturday Market
I had some free time to wander the city when Milan met with some family who happened to be in Bratislava at the same time as us. I saw the old town—as I always do—and then wandered down a street he’d recommend for having good shopping. I eventually began to explore new avenues, though, and stumbled across a really cool event.
In an grandly restored, old, industrial building, I found bustling crowds around market stalls selling regional foods, spices, clothing, wine, honey and everything else you could imagine. The Saturday farmer’s market was in full swing, and on one of the busiest streets in the city! On the second level, a flea market peddled books and old trinkets, while opposite it a vegan restaurant catered to hipster clients and actors performed an educational program for children. All of it was so refreshingly modern. I adore living in Poprad for the nature that is there, but I truly miss such progressive places and, in Slovakia, you can only really find such things in Bratislava.
I have visited this castle numerous times, though I am embarrassed to say, I never really knew there was much to see inside. The museum of Bratislava Castle is an amazing experience. The exhibits take you through Slovak history, from the Stone Age to the fall of communism and Velvet Divorce which birthed a newly independent Slovak state. The most interesting exhibit for me portrayed Czechoslovakia in the roaring twenties and thirties. Just like the USA, this was a golden era for the nation. I was stunned when I walked into the room. The walls were covered in posters and signs from those decades, all in that iconic advertising style which I had assumed was uniquely American. Slovakia, which has for decades lagged just behind the rest of the developed world (a result of Soviet communism) was once a rival to even the economic powerhouse of the USA. Unfortunately, I failed to take any photos but I will insert some examples of the style from America and a few of the Czechoslovakia advertisements I could find online.
Just before we left the castle, we climbed up the largest tower and gazed out at the city beyond. The top level was sweltering, but the view was worth it. Bratislava is a small city, but that produces its own kind of charm. You can see the age of the streets change as they radiate outwards from the old town. Medieval buildings slide into the Renaissance, then Industrial era and Communist architecture, finally reaching modern development on the outskirts.
Bratislava is a beautiful city and my final trip there was certainly the best. I owe thanks for that to Milan for showing me around the city and convincing me to go that one last time.