Major cities have their symbols: Paris the Eiffel Tower, New York the Statue of Liberty, Moscow the Kremlin. Sometimes symbols compete for the prime slot: just think of Sacre Coeur, the now-gone World Trade Center, or St. Basil’s Cathedral. As much as city officials attempt to push the Castle as the city’s symbol, for me the Bratislava UFO Bridge (officially Most SNP, Bridge of the Slovak National Uprising) will always stand for Slovakia’s capital.

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Bratislava UFO Bridge

Most SNP from the Bratislava Castle

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Why? Like the Castle, the Bridge is a monument of an era and it is unique and distinctive to the city. But it’s also practical, used by thousands of people every day, and, dare I say, cool. It has also defined the city’s character: Its construction led to the demolition of a great portion of the city’s Old Town, particularly the Jewish quarter which led the philosopher Egon Bondy to once write that the bridge and the road it carries had stabbed the city’s heart. I lived in Bratislava from 1995 to 2000 while attending University of Economics, so the bridge stands not only for the city but also for five years’ worth of memories.

Bratislava UFO Bridge

The Castle and Old Town from the viewing platform atop the UFO restaurant

The bridge’s fact sheet is short and sweet:

  • The bridge was built from 1967 to 1972.
  • From the opening to 1993 it was called Most SNP, short for Most Slovenského národného povstania. For the following 19 years it was called Nový most (New Bridge) until in 2012 it was renamed to its original name.
  • At 430 meters it is the world’s longest cable-stayed bridge to have one pylon and one cable-stayed plane and the only bridge to be the member of the World Federation of Great Towers.
  • The flying saucer-like structure at the top of the pylon houses a restaurant, since 2005 aptly called UFO.

Whether you see it from far away…

Bratislava UFO Bridge

Most SNP from the Old Bridge to the east, down the Danube river

…or from down below…

Bratislava UFO Bridge

Most SNP from the boat to Vienna.

…the bridge leads the eye across the horizon, across the Danube River, which the city’s residents disavowed for so long, in and out of Old Town, always there.

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Bratislava UFO Bridge

It pokes out over the trees whether you’re on the right or left bank of the Danube…and at night, the UFO turns into a friendly robot.

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It also inspires cool art.

Bratislava UFO Bridge

A trippy piece by Balint Dudas, hanging throughout the summer in the Kávy sveta/Coffee World cafe in my hometown Košice, Slovakia.

The Bridge also features in the 1987 video by the Slovak band Tublatanka, “Dnes” (Today), a classic I’ve heard an Irishman describe as Bratislava’s anthem. Sounds just about right.

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Bratislava UFO Bridge

A street vendor with his Most SNP-inspired artwork.

21 Responses

    • Peter Korchnak

      Weren’t we all! It feels great to update those memories with the present…

      Reply
  1. Claudia

    What a unique and beautiful design for a bridge! It does kind off look like a UFo during the day and a robot during the night haha. I get it why it could totally be the official city symbol

    Reply
  2. Tami

    This was all very fascinating. I didn’t know anything about Bratislava or the bridge. It’s beautifully designed, and it seems to have great significance and history behind it as well. Did anyone complain when part of the Old Town was destroyed to complete the bridge? I know that some would like to leave things as they are, and others would like to put things of the past behind them and move on.

    Reply
    • Peter Korchnak

      Construction destroyed most of the Jewish Quarter, including a large synagogue. No one complained, not out loud or in any consequential manner anyway, because the country was ruled by the Communist Party then and such actions would have been subversive and punishable.

      Reply
  3. Natasha

    All I can say is wow. This bridge is very impressive and your pictures capture it really well. Would love to visit

    Reply
  4. Genie | Gallivanting Bean

    oh how awesome! and you’re photos look great. I’m visiting Bratislava in July and your post has me excited. I’ve never seen photos of Bratislava before so yours are my first glimpse of what’s in store for me!

    Reply
  5. Danik

    I remember visiting Bratislava and seeing this ugly bridge. Its so frigging ugly! I don’t like 😀 😀 😀 But quality photos by the way 🙂

    Reply
  6. Rosemary

    So many memories in your story about the bridge. It is quite striking and architecturally interesting. Lovely photos which really bring it to life. Can’t wait to visit the region.

    Reply
  7. Barb

    Wow, this bridge looks really cool and futuristic. I love modern architecture.

    Reply
  8. Wanderlust Wayfarer

    It sounds like this bridge holds a keen sense of nostalgia for you and the time you spent living in Bratislava. I think it would be fun to eat in the restaurant inside the UFO structure.

    Reply
  9. Sandy N Vyjay

    We have a East Europe itinerary ready and waiting in the cans and Bratislava happens to be one of the starting points in the itinerary. The bridge looks amazing, I especially love the picture taken from the viewing tower, it is stunning. Hope our itinerary sees the light of day fast and we get to see this lovely city.

    Reply

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