Blava Modern

Bratislava is mostly known for its old buildings, or 19th century Empire or Art Nouveau, but there are some modern buildings as well.  The SNP bridge, with its space age pretensions is a controversial symbol of Bratislava.  To build it the approaches ripped through the old town taking out the Jewish quarter.  However, 40 years after it was built it has become an accepted symbol … Continue reading Blava Modern

Bojince, Slovakia

This is from a May 2002 letter. Another specter is haunting Europe, at least central Slovakia.  Every year between May 1 and VE Day the town of Bojnice hosts the “Scary ghost festival.”  The town has a fine castle, re-built in the French Renaissance style in the 19th century on the foundations of a 13th century keep by a nobleman who had overly romantic notions … Continue reading Bojince, Slovakia

Banska Stiavinica, Slovakia

The city of Banska Stiavinica, an empire mining town, is a world heritage site.  The legend is that a shepherd saw two salamanders, one silver and one gold.  He watched them crawl under a rock and discovered the mother lode.  The town’s symbol is a shovel, pick and two salamanders.  Empress Maria Theresa founded the School of Mines here, it was the first technical university … Continue reading Banska Stiavinica, Slovakia

Kosice, Slovakia

In Eastern Slovakia there are three shakers on the table, sometimes labeled “black,” “white” and “red;” salt, pepper and paprika.  This region mixes cultures as well as spices.  The towns were settled by German (Saxon) craftsmen, ruled by Hungarian nobles, administered by Austrian bureaucrats, Slovaks and Ukrainians did the farming and Roma handled the transport.  Kosice, Slovakia’s “Second City,”  is the business center of Eastern … Continue reading Kosice, Slovakia

Bratislava, Slovakia

When the 20th Century started Bratislava was Pressburg, part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.  It had an ethnically mixed population, German, Hungarian, Jewish and Slovak.  Over the course of the 20th century, through two wars and 3 or four countries, depending on how you count, it became a Slovak city that still honors its German, Jewish, and Hungarian traditions.  The cafes rival those of Vienna and … Continue reading Bratislava, Slovakia

All Saint’s Day, Dubcek’s Grave, Slovakia

“For All the Saints Who From Their Labors Rest,” especially one. This is All Saints’ Say.  On this day Slovaks visit cemeteries and light candles on graves.  Most of my staff members go home to their villages for the holiday so they can visit family graves.  I asked Petra, our University intern from Kosice, whose grave she was going to visit since she was far … Continue reading All Saint’s Day, Dubcek’s Grave, Slovakia