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 of the city.  The New Bridge, (which is what the SNP bridge used to be called, (It is officially the Apollo Bridge) is a graceful arch over the Danube. Many old buildings have been given … 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 of what a castle should look like.  Every year the town haunts the castle, this year with vampires, not a normal Slovak feature, as well as scary ghosts.  This is a Halloween in May type … Continue reading Bojince, Slovakia

Blava Nouveau

Bratislava has many fine Art Nouveau and Austrian Secession buildings.  There are several pictures in this gallery of the Blue Church.  Next to it is a school building built by the same architect.  The school had not been painted and maintained as well as the church, but you can see they are a two of a piece.  The Roland Café in the main square in the Old Town across from Old City Hall is a fine example of the form.  I have included a full front to show it in context and several shots of detail on the building.  These … Continue reading Blava Nouveau

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 in the world.  The town mostly is in need of restoration.  This actually makes it seem more “real.” 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 Slovakia.   It is also a mix of all of those cultures.  Kosice is a wonderfully restored old city that has a beggar as its mascot.  The “Golden Beggar” sat on the main square for … Continue reading Kosice, Slovakia