Imagine yourself in a futuristic – almost absurdly so – Communist park. Maybe you want to go for some time travel? Add to that scene some steel, concrete, functional buildings, silence, and quite a bit of nostalgia. Námestie Slobody is precisely this park or square. Even its name -Freedom Square – hints of a time when everything was more grandiose and the hope for a better tomorrow was lurking around the corner. This is one of the largest squares in Bratislava and you find it just in front of the Episcopal Summer Palace. Actually this is probably one of the major communist leftovers in the city.
The square is today surrounded on all sides by important buildings. There are the Slovak Technical University, the Ministry of Transport, Posts and Telecommunications of the Slovak Republic, as well as the Episcopal Summer Palace. The latter houses the government of Slovakia.
The square itself looks abandoned nowadays as graffiti has filled most of the structures built in the square. There is also a lack of water in the Fountain of Union that is the centerpiece of the square. The fountain, made of stainless steel, is the largest fountain in Bratislava and its core depicts a linden flower, a symbol of Slavs.
Námestie Slobody: A Bit of History
During the Socialist era Námestie Slobody went by the name Gottwaldovo, in honor of the Czechoslovak president Klement Gottwald. There used to be a huge statue of Gottwald on the square but it was later demolished.
The Fountain of Union, at the very center of the square, dates back to 1980. In other words to a time when life in Bratislava was very different. The square was renamed in 1989 to Námestie Slobody. One piece of history worth remembering and mentioning is the world’s first helicopter. In 1897 Ján Bahýľ’ took off on his invention in this very park.
Námestie Slobody: How to Get There?
Námestie Slobody is a short walk up north from the old town of Bratislava. The closest tram stop is Slovenská technická univerzita (STU). Trams connect you with most of Bratislava.