Bratislava has a wonderful Old Town, but there’s also a new, ultra-modern part of the city with impressive highrise offices and apartments, upscale retail shopping centers, and trendy restaurants. The New Slovak National Theater is in the heart of this area, and it’s where ballet and opera performances are conducted. I was confused, especially with billboards posted at both old and new National Theatre locations.
“The New Slovak National Theatre building (SND) was designed by architects Martin Kusý, Pavol Paňák, and Peter Bauer. Their proposal won a competition that brought together fifty-three projects. The building stretches over seven stories. It houses more than two thousand rooms and three main stages for Opera and Ballet, Drama, and The Studio. The building is also home to a restaurant seating 1,200, a club, Café Libresso, and a kitchen.” SND New Building
The first Slovak National Theatre I saw was the historic original one, a glorious Neo-Renaissance building on Hviezdoslavovo námestie. I’m attending a ballet performance on Saturday, so decided to get my national theatre buildings straight and figure out the best mode of transportation.
The contrast between the old and new parts of Bratislava is striking, especially if you’re walking from one setting into the other. Both lead to “planned” Petržalka Central Park and the banks of the beloved Danube River – an extraordinarily beautiful area everybody loves!
This post is a mishmash of photos illustrating these two sometimes vividly contrasting parts of Bratislava. I’ll add a bit of trivia about the sparrows living near restaurants along the riverside. They’re expert little thieves – brave and bold at swooping down to grab food, sometimes right out of the hands of their targets. It’s hilarious! I saw one tiny bird stare down a grown man for a piece of his bread. Sadly, no photos, as they were way too fast for me! The riverside area is known as an “important site for wintering of inland, shore, and waterbirds in Slovakia”. I’m certain feeding the birds is discouraged, but when the right opportunity arises, they aren’t shy about taking what they want.
Sculptures and Fountains
In addition to amazing, diverse architecture, Bratislava is known for its sculptures and fountains. Each time I go exploring, there’s a new find. I was planning to write a post about them, but they’re mostly untitled and spread out all over the city. The research time required to identify each one and tell its story is daunting, but I’ve posted some photos – media and mine – for future reference.
“A decommissioned coal-fired power station sits at the middle of Bratislava’s new Culenova City Center. It’ll be converted into an art gallery as part of the project, while a series of additional pavilions will be constructed alongside.” deesen.com
“A fountain and sculpture by Alexander Biľkovič, Iľja Skoček, and Pavol Bauer is located in the front court main entrance of the New National Theatre. The entrance lobby prides itself with The Spring by architect Pavol Bauer and painter Dušan Buřil. The splendour of the front is further enhanced with a cascade by artist Peter Roller and two towers by architect Pavol Bauer.” Visit Bratislava
Bratislava has a personality of its own, different than any other European city I’ve experienced. For instance, unlike in Germany and Austria, when there’s zero traffic coming from any direction, people don’t stand waiting for the green “walk” signal – they just go, and no one lectures them about it.
I remember being late and in a rush in Berlin and crossing a pedestrian walk while a red signal was displayed. The street was empty in all directions, yet I was severely chided for this “brazen act”! I never did it again – at least not when there were Germans waiting at the crosswalk. My guess is it could be the middle of the night, without a single soul, bicycle, or other vehicle on the street, and they would still wait for the green light. :)
Although I’ve seen its unmistakable form in the distance, haven’t yet visited New Bridge with its UFO-shaped viewing platform and restaurant. It’s on my ever-growing list of “must see” discoveries. Writing blog posts about Bratislava’s many gems could keep you busy for a long time!