Beauty or an ugly duckling on the Danube? Proud capital of an independent state or second class bracelet of Vienna? Historical meeting point of three nations, display cabinet of socialistic architecture, or is it a modern central European metropolis? Discover the authentic genius loci of Bratislava!
Bratislava is one of the youngest capitals in the world. It is still forming its identity. Its identity is being found through dynamic change. The base of history is focusing on a new presence. After overcoming a half a century of wild growth during the socialistic era it finds enormous potential in new conditions.
A visible feature of Bratislava which was forming its strategic meaning throughout its history was its geographical location. Gate location in the meeting point of two plains, on the bank of the Danube, bordering position, between and east and west – this reality remains even though with different effects of development in particular times. Either it was Celtic opidum in Devín, roman system of protective walls Limes Romanus, importance of the rivers low point for the Amber route and Devín as one of the centers bordering points of Great Moravia, Poszony as a city on the border of Austrian-Hungarian Empire, city as a part of the iron curtain, and today as a gate to the west or lets say part of the west!
The bordering position of Bratislava is connected with its multi-ethnical and multicultural character especially up to the Second World War. The unique symbiosis of three dominant cultures from different language groups (German, Hungarian and Slovak) were complimented with numerous diasporas of Jews, Croats, Czechs, Bulgarians and others, which in its special way made culture in the city more vibrant. Throughout this time Bratislava became more “Slovakized”, but today mixing of culture has a new meaning.
Weather you like it or not you can still feel the frozen exhale of socialism not only in the shape of functional architecture but also in the faces of the people in the streets. This exhale of socialism is meeting a fresh breath of new optimism, creativity but also modern urbanism. A new wave of potential in its inhabitants is being awakened, those inhabitants who were for half a century marked as “too little working class”, too oppositional or even “not Slovak and not enough pro-Slavic”. Exactly this changing and vibrating atmosphere of a city seeking its own identity is fascinating!
Bratislava grows both up and out and it cooperates. Time of change we can in a smaller scale compare to the growth of Berlin in the 1990’s or Beijing today. Investments and business spirit which come directly from the potential of the city itself are changing its face everyday. The unique past of Bratislava remains in tiny streets and squares of the old town, innovative thoughts are created all around.
Feel Bratislava of today as it is in reality! Breathe the history of the city, go out behind its historical gates and get to know it authentically. Feel scent of the river, forests in its surroundings. Live the change which the pulsating city is experiencing. Bratislava is waiting for you. It’s your turn now!
author: Branislav Chrenka