Sunday, August 23, 2015

Slovakia :: Street Art

Cumil: The Watcher
Bratislava was a surprise for me. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I had heard for years how Slovakia had been depressed by Soviet control. My husband is Slovak, and visited when he was young while it was still communist. And he had painted a rather bleak view of the place.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a rather wonderful revitalization of an old world city. The split from Soviet Rule was in 1989 and called the Velvet Revolution (so named due to its peaceful separation). Four years later Czechoslovakia split again into separate countries, also known as the Velvet Divorce: where Slovakia and the Czech Republic went their separate ways. 

In the years that followed, Prague was an up and coming tourist destination and Western influence flooded into the country. Not so for Slovakia, still considered an off-the-beaten track destination. While we were in Vienna our hotel concierge gave us a quizzical look when we told him we were heading for Bratislava next. His reply was, "it'll be quick, you can see it all inside of 2 hours." I disagree, and wish we had more time while we were there. It was charming and still had its authentic character in much of the old town, the people and the shops we visited. One of the things I loved were all the quirky statues about town. There seems to have been a revival in the old town (called Korzo) to shed the greyness of the Communist era by repainting buildings and enlivening the old town with interesting sculptures.

Schoner Naci
Cumil is one of the bronze statues in a series called 'Men at Work.' He is known by several names like the plumber or the watcher. The locals say that he is a symbol of a good man who is spending his time watching people and the life of Korzo. Others have more mischievous things to say about him like that he is looking up the women's skirts.

There are several other statues in the series called the Papparazzi and Schoner Naci. This last statue is the only one with a Bratislava legend. He is said to be a man named Ignac Lamar, son of a shoemaker. He was known as a gentleman wearing a black suit with tails and a top hat. He was smooth with the ladies greeting them with "I kiss your hand" in German, Hungarian and Slovak.

The thing that strikes me most about this quirky statue series is that it is a celebration of the common people who represent the country. Usually the statues are of the dictators, the scholars, the famous composers or memorials of some horror. But here in Bratislava it is the celebration of the people. And that in my book makes it unique and down right fun. I was taken with the response I saw on Lonely Planet from a local called Peter who took the time to translate and explain the meaning behind these statues. His final words were "Thank you for visiting our country." I found Bratislava to be a very friendly place to visit and worth the diversion off the beaten track.


  1. That's pretty cool! Bratislava looks and sounds like a nice place!

  2. Good for you for going and exploring this area. Sometimes the best trips are off the beaten path. I love the quirky statues!

  3. How wonderful you got to visit! I agree about the statues. It is so great that they are of "regular" people. There are some quirky ones here too (in the big city).

  4. Bratislava sounds so charming. The statues are fantastic. What a great concept celebrating the everyday man! That really demonstrates the type of people you would find there who I imagine respect each other.

  5. This looks like a storybook city. I am so enjoying this series of posts.

  6. Those are awesome statues! I like the watcher the most I am sure your enjoyed your trip visiting these places :)

  7. I think one, most of the time, has the best time when going somewhere that is off of the beaten path. Thank you for sharing Bratislava with us. I enjoyed the stories behind the statues.

  8. I love the statues. It is good to celebrate the common people as well as the rich and famous.

  9. Wow great street art!!!! nice post!!!
    Have a good week!!! and my g+ for you!!!:)))

    Besos, desde España, Marcela♥

  10. Gorgeous sculptures, my favorite is the man coming out of the man hole in the street.


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