Welcome to Bratislava, Slovakia

Bratislava's Old Town Hall in the Hlavné námestie ("Main Square")

Bratislava’s Old Town Hall in the Hlavné námestie (“Main Square”).

As far as city nicknames go, “Little Big City” is about perfect for Bratislava–it’s striking how the city’s Old Town shows a beauty both grand and manageable.

And, just outside the Old Town, it took me 15-20 minutes to get my bearings after arriving. The very first road I happened to walk down was a quick reminder that Slovakia very much had been occupied by the Soviet Union for several decades. Dilapidated buildings, graffiti… As much as you might read about the city’s makeover process, on this first stroll I didn’t linger to take snapshots.

But after a mile or two, this sign for Dvojbodka coworking center popped up. And then I took another look: Coworking centers are about as safe (and gentrified) as you can get.

Dvojbodka coworking center

One of the first landmarks I saw in Bratislava.

So, Bratislava is a work in progress, and that’s probably what I loved most about it. Across from the picturesque Blue Church (Church of St. Elisabeth)

St. Elisabeth's (aka Blue Church), Bratislava

St. Elisabeth’s, built in 1907-1908 in the Hungarian secessionist style.

…You might see an abandoned hospital, with “MegaDeath” spraypainted underneath an angular Soviet frieze.

Bezručova hospital, Bratislava

The abandoned Bezručova hospital, where developers are planning to put a hotel.

And then, just a few blocks away, you buy freshly blended juice at the state-of-the-art Eurovea riverfront mall.

Eurovea juice bar, Bratislava

I was happily surprised by the number of mall juice bars in Bratislava and Salzburg. Pretty cheap, too!

Eurovea Mall, Bratislava

The interior of Eurovea Mall, Bratislava. I didn’t score any clothes, but found juice and English-style potato chips.

By the time I left two days later, I’d actually grown a little fond of Bratislava’s gritty side. The recent past’s abandoned hospitals are ugly, and yet you could say they make the courtyards more restful and spires still taller.

Alžbetínky Church and Tesco entry, Bratislava

The Alžbetínky Church (built 1739-1742 in the High Baroque style) and an entry to Tesco grocery store across the street.

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4 comments

  1. Laura · May 19, 2014

    I really don’t know anything about Bratislava so it’s wonderful to see these great pictures and get some insight into this beautiful place. I’ll have to add it to my travel list!

  2. ebenbow · May 19, 2014

    Thanks, girl! You better hurry before the ghosts move out of that hospital!

  3. Emmy · May 20, 2014

    Your pictures show how exquisite beauty and relentlessly harsh reality can and do exist side by side ! What a fascinating place. I think your comment about Bratislava being “a work in progress” is so true.

    • ebenbow · May 20, 2014

      Thanks, Mom! I’m sure residents will be (understandably) glad to get rid of those old decrepit buildings, but am a little thankful I could at least get a peek.

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