Would you believe that the areas of Sturova Street and Safarikovo Square used to be swampy meadows and gardens of a river island? Do you know why the street and square were created?
Explore the remnants of the Belle Époque, the beauties of Art Nouveau style, and the history of the buildings built at the end of the 19th and early 20th century.
The origin of the Štúrova Street is closely linked to the flurry of new construction works that began here towards the end of the 19th century. Arguably the most significant impact on this area was the construction of the first bridge in Bratislava, now known as the Old Bridge. The swampy meadows and gardens of the river island Grossling, with the sad fortune to be located on the left river bank of then-new Old Bridge, were unceremoniously turned into a au courant neighbourhood worthy of then ruler and namesake, Franz Josef-Stadt. Freshly paved sidewalks and bustling squares were studded with higher end apartments for the up and coming residents of Pressburg.
Traditional architectural style – gothic, renaissance, baroque, and rococo – dominated the building design of these apartments until the very end of the 19th century. The new century brought winds from nearby Vienna in the form of a contemporarily trendy style known as Jugendstil or Art Nouveau. Two significant Art Nouveau buildings on Šafárikovo Square and two on Štúrova Street still stand like massive gilded tea-cakes next to the neighboring structures.
Back in the current age, Štúrova Street is still a prominent walking path for locals thanks to its ideal starting point at Šafárikovo Square and lively conclusion at Kamenné Square. Visitors in previous years may remember this pathway as closed down due to continuous and massive reconstruction projects. Now reopen, the years of inconvenience have proved worthy and you can enjoy a prettier version of this historic path :)
MAIN SIGHTS AT ŠAFÁRIKOVO SQUARE
The natural beginning of Štúrova Street, we start our tour with Šafárikovo Square. It was created simultaneously with the first bridge of Bratislava – Bridge of Emperor Franz Josef (currently known as the Old Bridge.) The square was known as König András-Platz after King Andrew III who renewed the city’s lost privileges. Then in August 1944, amidst bombing aimed at the nearby Apollo refinery, a stray explosive demolished the area, including the Landerer’s Palace. The Palace was never rebuilt and a park was constructed in its honor.
Before moving on, take note of the square’s beautiful representatives of the Bratislava Art Nouveau style – the pink apartment house at Šafárikovo Square 2 and the beige apartment house at Šafarikovo Square 3, built in 1904 and 1905 respectively. Two additional apartment buildings near the park represent the “Neo” movements popular during this time – the green, Neo gothic apartment house at Šafárikovo Square 4 and the Neo baroque style complex in the apricot and pastry-cream, topped with its iconic dome at Šafárikovo Square 7, once host to the Krym hotel.
Our personal favourite sight on Šafárikovo Square is the iconic Duck Fountain, built by renowned artist Robert Kuhmayer. He transformed an old Bratislava urban legend into a beautiful black stone sculpture. You can read its captivating story here.
The most dominant building on Šafárikovo Square is the seat of the rectorate and the Faculty of Law of the Comenius University. With its strong columns, wood-lined interior and overall stately design, one can easily picture Comenius fulfilling its initial role as the local stock exchange. The adjacent Štúrova Street in fact used to be a prestigious address for many banks of that time. Instead, it proudly stands as Slovakia’s oldest university, founded in 1919.
MAIN SIGHTS AT ŠTÚROVA STREET
Štúrova Street is named after our most iconic historical figure and the codifier of the Slovak language, Mr. Ľudovít Štúr; though, it has always taken famous names Before Štúr it was named Baross Gábor-Straße, after the Hungarian Minister of Commerce and Transport of that time who reformed the Hungarian railway system. In line with the street’s culturally significant namesakes are copious architectural landmarks of note. As you explore this picturesque street have a look at several emblematic favorites.
House n.16 is a city palace built by count Vidor Csáky who spent most of his time living at his properties in the Spiš region, in Vienna, or in Budapest. It was built in a lavish yet modern style, with above standard furnishings for the time, including two bathrooms and several toilettes! A portion of of the beautiful decorations survived World War II, then part of the properties of the Baťa company, but the use of the palace as a health care center after the war caused insensitive changes in its interior. It is now the seat of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea.
House n. 14 was built in the Neo baroque style and hosted the editorial office of the magazine “Cultural Life/Kultúrny Život” between 1946 and 1968. Notice the commemorative plaque stating that this place used to be a workshop of free thinking that opened a way to independence of the beloved Slovakia :)
House n. 12 is is famed for being the first Art Nouveau building in Bratislava. It was built here as Štúrova was the most renowned street in Pressburg during the early 20th century. Finished in 1903, the structure’s facade is richly decorated with stucco and herbal motives. For a lucky few, it still serves as an apartment building.
House n. 10 is known as the Tulip House and was built in 1905. The origin of this title is lost to history; if you examine its facade, you will find no tulips here. The building is instead covered with water lillies and other climbing plants, but mostly with beautiful roses. It has to be one of the most striking Art Nouveau buildings on the street. and now houses the Roset Boutique Hotel, offering travelers a chance to travel back in time one sleep at a time.
House n. 6 is a beautiful Neo Baroque building built in 1902 that used to house the Pressburg branch of the the Austrian-Hungarian Bank. It now hosts the Slovak artistic ensemble Lúčnica, an awardee of the highest rank at home and abroad, that symbolizes the original culture of our nation, genuine in its dance, instrumental and vocal expressions.
Building n. 4 used to be the seat of the headquarters of the Pravda newspaper. It was later rebuilt into an administrative building known as the Pressburg Trade Center.
Building n. 2 was previously the building of the National Bank, designed by the architect Emil Belluš, and now hosts the Public Prosecutor’s office.
Building n. 5 was constructed in 1923 as a seat of a bank and was the intended home of the Bratislava Bank Center, which was never finished. It now hosts the OTP bank.
Building n.1 at the corner of Štúrova and Grosslingova Street was originally built as an apartment house, though became a seat of rich Legiobanka (Bank of the Czechoslovak legions). It was later downgraded into a state transport company’s ticket booth. It now hosts the Eximbanka bank.
Building n. 19 is a cultural landmark that used to be a former seat of the VÚB bank and is now known as the City Gate, currently home to various shops and apartment units.
Building n. 3 is known as Luxor Passage. The artistic elite – actors, directors, translators, journalists, and writers – would meet in the legendary restaurant and cafe Luxorka, once located on the 1st floor. This was the spot where many stories and urban legends were created and are told to this day.
Of final note, Štúrová Street proudly hosts the first tramline in Bratislava!
TAKE A BREAK
Starting at Šafárikovo Square, don’t miss a chance to try a black burger sprinkled with edible gold! The family business Jump Street offers street food classics in a fancy and out of the ordinary way, merging visual art and dining.
If you want to try more a traditional cuisine, Thema is a good choice. Its comfy, yet spacious interior can get crowded during the lunch break but is a perfect spot for a dinner with friends. A budget option is the Vietnamese place Lotus with tasty Pho.
If you are craving something sweeter, La Donuteria is our pick! Just like in the famed donut shops across America, the pastry chefs here arrive at 5 am to prepare for the day. The donuts are baked fresh all day until 2 pm and served by a team of smiling ladies. Just one note here: La Donuteria is a tiny spot with two tables and therefore it is easier to grab your donut to go.
If you plan to sit down for your sweet treat, we recommend the Stur Cafe, probably the first hipster place in Bratislava. Named after this street and after our historical figure Mr. Štúr. Delicious food, heavenly cakes and home made drinks. Add a big amount of charm, sprinkle it with a good deal of hip people and you get a lovely cafe that lives its vivid life.
Authors: Zuzana Mytna, Jennifer Brown
Photos credits: Ksenia Zhukova
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