• 001 - the logo.jpg
  • 002 - Hiroshima sunset.jpg
  • 003 - Auschwitz-Birkenau ramp.jpg
  • 004 - Chernobyl contamination.jpg
  • 005 - Darvaza flaming gas crater.jpg
  • 006 - Berlin Wall madness.jpg
  • 007 - Bulgaria - monument at the bottom of Buzludzhy park hill.jpg
  • 008 - Ijen crater.jpg
  • 009 - Aralsk, Kazakhstan.jpg
  • 010 - Paris catacombs.jpg
  • 011 - Krakatoa.jpg
  • 012 - Ho Chi Minh mausoleum, Hanoi.jpg
  • 013 - Uyuni.jpg
  • 014 - DMZ Vietnam.jpg
  • 015 - Colditz Kopie.jpg
  • 016 - Glasgow Necropolis.jpg
  • 017 - Hashima ghost island.jpg
  • 018 - Kazakhstan.jpg
  • 019 - Arlington.jpg
  • 020 - Karosta prison.jpg
  • 021 - Kamikaze.jpg
  • 022 - Chacabuco ghost town.jpg
  • 023 - Eagle's Nest, Obersalzberg, Berchtesgaden.jpg
  • 024 - Kursk.jpg
  • 025 - Bran castle, Carpathia, Romania.jpg
  • 026 - Bestattungsmuseum Wien.jpg
  • 027 - Pripyat near Chernobyl.jpg
  • 028 - Sedlec ossuary, Czech Republic.jpg
  • 029 - Pyramida Lenin.jpg
  • 030 - Falklands.jpg
  • 031 - Majdanek.jpg
  • 032 - Soufriere volcano, Montserrat.jpg
  • 033 - moai on Easter Island.jpg
  • 034 - Sidoarjo.jpg
  • 035 - Hötensleben.jpg
  • 036 - Natzweiler.jpg
  • 037 - Polygon, Semipalatinsk test site, Kazakhstan.jpg
  • 038 - Srebrenica.jpg
  • 039 - Liepaja, Latvia.jpg
  • 040 - Vemork hydroelectric power plant building, Norway.jpg
  • 041 - Enola Gay.jpg
  • 042 - Pentagon 9-11 memorial.jpg
  • 043 - Robben Island prison, South Africa.jpg
  • 044 - Tollund man.jpg
  • 045 - Marienthal tunnel.jpg
  • 046 - Aso, Japan.jpg
  • 047 - Labrador battery Singapore.jpg
  • 048 - Artyom island, Absheron, Azerbaijan.jpg
  • 049 - Treblinka.jpg
  • 050 - Titan II silo.jpg
  • 051 - dosemetering doll, Chernobyl.jpg
  • 052 - Holocaust memorial, Berlin.jpg
  • 053 - Komodo dragon.jpg
  • 054 - cemeterio general, Santiago de Chile.jpg
  • 055 - Tuol Sleng, Phnom Phen, Cambodia.jpg
  • 056 - West Virginia penitentiary.jpg
  • 057 - ovens, Dachau.jpg
  • 058 - Derry, Northern Ireland.jpg
  • 059 - Bulgaria - Buzludzha - workers of all countries unite.jpg
  • 060 - Sachsenhausen.jpg
  • 061 - Tiraspol dom sovietov.jpg
  • 062 - modern-day Pompeii - Plymouth, Montserrat.jpg
  • 063 - Pico de Fogo.jpg
  • 064 - Trinity Day.jpg
  • 065 - Zwentendorf control room.jpg
  • 066 - Wolfschanze.jpg
  • 067 - Hiroshima by night.jpg
  • 068 - mass games, North Korea.jpg
  • 069 - Harrisburg.jpg
  • 070 - Nuremberg.jpg
  • 071 - Mostar.jpg
  • 072 - Tu-22, Riga aviation museum.jpg
  • 073 - Gallipoli, Lone Pine.jpg
  • 074 - Auschwitz-Birkenau - fence.jpg
  • 075 - Darvaza flaming gas crater.jpg
  • 076 - Atatürk Mausoleum, Ankara.jpg
  • 077 - Banda Aceh boats.jpg
  • 078 - AMARG.jpg
  • 079 - Chacabuco ruins.jpg
  • 080 - Bucharest.jpg
  • 081 - Bernauer Straße.jpg
  • 082 - Death Railway, Thailand.jpg
  • 083 - Mandor killing fields.jpg
  • 084 - Kozloduy.jpg
  • 085 - Jerusalem.jpg
  • 086 - Latin Bridge, Sarajevo.jpg
  • 087 - Panmunjom, DMZ, Korea.jpg
  • 088 - Ijen blue flames.jpg
  • 089 - Derry reconsilliation monument.jpg
  • 090 - Ebensee.jpg
  • 091 - Mödlareuth barbed wire.jpg
  • 092 - skull heaps in Sedlec ossuary, Czech Republic.jpg
  • 093 - Nikel.jpg
  • 094 - Fukushima-Daiichi NPP.jpg
  • 095 - Tital launch control centre.jpg
  • 096 - Dallas Dealy Plaza and Sixth Floor Museum.jpg
  • 097 - Auschwitz I.jpg
  • 098 - Stalin and Lenin, Tirana, Albania.jpg
  • 099 - Malta, Fort St Elmo.jpg
  • 100 - Peenemünde.jpg
  • 101 - Tarrafal.jpg
  • 102 - Kilmainham prison, Dublin.jpg
  • 103 - North Korea.jpg
  • 104 - Mittelbau-Dora.jpg
  • 105 - St Helena.jpg
  • 106 - Stutthof, Poland.jpg
  • 107 - Merapi destruction.jpg
  • 108 - Chueung Ek killing fields, Cambodia.jpg
  • 109 - Marienborn former GDR border.jpg
  • 110 - Mig and star, Kazakhstan.jpg
  • 111 - Nagasaki WWII tunnels.jpg
  • 112 - Hellfire Pass, Thailand.jpg
  • 113 - Kiev.jpg
  • 114 - Grutas Park, Lithuania.jpg
  • 115 - Zwentendorf reactor core.jpg
  • 116 - two occupations, Tallinn.jpg
  • 117 - Trunyan burial site.jpg
  • 118 - Ushuaia prison.jpg
  • 119 - Buchenwald.jpg
  • 120 - Marienthal with ghost.jpg
  • 121 - Murmansk harbour - with an aircraft carrier.jpg
  • 122 - Berlin Olympiastadion.JPG
  • 123 - Bastille Day, Paris.jpg
  • 124 - Spassk.jpg
  • 125 - Theresienstadt.jpg
  • 126 - B-52s.jpg
  • 127 - Bledug Kuwu.jpg
  • 128 - Friedhof der Namenlosen, Vienna.jpg
  • 129 - Auschwitz-Birkenau barracks.jpg
  • 130 - mummies, Bolivia.jpg
  • 131 - Barringer meteor crater.jpg
  • 132 - Murambi, Rwanda.jpg
  • 133 - NTS.jpg
  • 134 - Mauthausen Soviet monument.jpg
  • 135 - pullution, Kazakhstan.JPG
  • 136 - palm oil madness.jpg
  • 137 - Berlin socialist realism.jpg
  • 138 - Okawa school building ruin.jpg
  • 139 - Pawiak, Warsaw.jpg
  • 140 - flying death, military museum Dresden.JPG
  • 141 - KGB gear.JPG
  • 142 - KZ jacket.JPG
  • 143 - ex-USSR.JPG
  • 144 - Indonesia fruit bats.JPG
  • 145 - Alcatraz.JPG
  • 146 - Chernobyl Museum, Kiev, Ukraine.JPG
  • 147 - Halemaumau lava lake glow, Hawaii.JPG
  • 148 - Rosinenbomber at Tempelhof, Berlin.jpg
  • 149 - Verdun, France.JPG
  • 150 - hospital, Vukovar, Croatia.JPG
  • 151 - the original tomb of Napoleon, St Helena.JPG
  • 152 - Buchenwald, Germany.JPG
  • 153 - Bhopal.JPG
  • 154 - Groß-Rosen, Poland.jpg
  • 155 - at Monino, Russia.jpg
  • 156 - blinking Komodo.jpg
  • 157 - inside Chernobyl NPP.JPG
  • 158 - Mount St Helens, USA.JPG
  • 159 - Maly Trostenec, Minsk, Belarus.jpg
  • 160 - Vucedol skulls, Croatia.JPG
  • 161 - colourful WW1 shells.JPG
  • 162 - Zeljava airbase in Croatia.JPG
  • 163 - rusting wrecks, Chernobyl.JPG
  • 164 - San Bernadine alle Ossa, Milan, Italy.jpg
  • 165 - USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.JPG
  • 166 - Brest Fortress, Belarus.JPG
  • 167 - thousands of bats, Dom Rep.JPG
  • 168 - Hohenschönhausen, Berlin.JPG
  • 169 - Perm-36 gulag site.JPG
  • 170 - Jasenovac, Croatia.JPG
  • 171 - Beelitz Heilstätten.JPG
  • 172 - Kremlin, Moscow.jpg
  • 173 - old arms factory, Dubnica.JPG
  • 174 - Pervomaisc ICBM base, more  missiles, including an SS-18 Satan.jpg
  • 175 - Cellular Jail, Port Blair.jpg
  • 177 - control room, Chernobyl NPP.JPG
  • 178 - Podgorica, Montenegro, small arms and light weapons sculpture.jpg
  • 179 - Vught.jpg
  • 180 - Japanese cave East Timor.jpg
  • 181 - Ani.jpg
  • 182 - Indonesia wildfire.jpg
  • 183 - Chacabuco big sky.jpg
  • 184 - Bunker Valentin, Germany.JPG
  • 185 - Lest we Forget, Ypres.JPG
  • 186 - the logo again.jpg

Bratislava Post-Socialist Tour

  
   - darkometer rating:  4 -
  
A special-interest tour offered by an alternative operator in Bratislava that takes in socialist monuments and grand architecture as well as massive prefab housing blocks, bits of the Iron Curtain, abandoned factories and an unfinished metro depot, plus some reminiscing about the lifestyle of the olden days. It's both tongue-in-cheek fun and illuminating. 

>More background info

>What there is to see

>Location

>Access and costs

>Time required

>Combinations with other dark destinations

>Combinations with non-dark destinations

>Photos

   
More background info: The tour is a key part of the portfolio of the alternative tour operator “Authentic Slovakia” – see the sponsored page for them HERE! And for more on the overall background see under Bratislava and Slovakia in general.
 
 
What there is to see: lots of quirky stuff in good company providing local insights!
 
Note that there are (at least) two versions of this tour – one short (2 hours), one longer (4 hours). Needless to say the longer tour covers more and is also better value for money (see below). When I did it, I was given a tailored combined tour, the first half of which more or less corresponded to the regular off-the-peg 4-hour variant of the tour but also took in elements described elsewhere in the separate chapters on Devin, Devinska Kobyla and Iron Curtain relics. Some of the latter are part of the post-socialist tour.
 
The order in which the various points of interest on this tour are visited will vary, e.g. according to your starting point, be it your hotel or one of the train stations. My tour started at Petržalka station, so we did everything south of the Danube first.
 
Our guide was Peter, one of the two brothers who run "Authentic Slovakia" (sponsored page) and he drove us around in a vintage Škoda passenger car. This is one of their signature elements to give the tour an “authentic” socialist-era feel. The downside is that these old cars are not always fully reliable. So the use of these veteran vehicles cannot be guaranteed. Larger groups (4-7 participants) will be driven around in a converted ambulance-type Škoda minivan – also an iconic model of the time.
   
Our first stop was at the old “Matador” tyre factory that is now abandoned. Unfortunately it's also been partly demolished by now, and what was still (partly) standing was inaccessible. We were able to peek into one hall that is now used for paintball games, but we could not go inside anywhere.
 
After this we headed for the old border to the west of the city, which is now open due to Slovakia and Austria both being in the Schengen area of the EU. However, we encountered police and they even enquired what we were doing here – maybe the recent refugee crisis of 2015 caused renewed anxieties about border areas …
 
Apart from driving a bit on the former patrol track and spotting the old leftover CSSR border posts, we concentrated on one of the bunkers commodified for tourism (though it wasn't open at the time we were there) and which also sports some reconstructions of the border fortifications. This is covered separately under the Iron Curtain chapter here.
 
Next stop was the abandoned unfinished metro terminus. The Bratislava metro was a project that never made it any further than this initial construction site and it is no longer honestly expected to be resumed. This bit was a bit more like “urban exploration” and had we had wellington boots to wear and a torch (flashlight) we could have ventured deeper into the dark, dank and partially flooded tunnel.
 
We then kept driving through the sea of prefab apartment blocks of Petržalka. This is often alleged to be the world's largest complex of such housing estates, though I have my doubts … e.g. the eastern suburbs of Kiev, built in the same style, seem a lot bigger to me.
  
Nevertheless, Petržalka certainly lives up to the expected drab character of such socialist-era housing schemes – even though they've meanwhile tried to alleviate the drabness a bit by painting the grey façades in “cheerful colours”. It doesn't quite work, I find. It makes them look just as ugly – only more fake. On balance I actually prefer the good old “honest” shabbiness in grey. Some blocks still exist that display just that character to this day.
 
After a short stop by the southern banks of the Danube, we crossed the river by means of the fabulous Most SNP (see under Bratislava!) and continued the rest of the tour on the northern side. We visited what was left of a once large brewery, now mostly demolished, save for one characteristic block that is apparently due for some sort of redevelopment.
  
We passed some very early examples of planned socialist housing and then stopped for lunch and a drink at the market hall. You can tell that its design was once intended to impress with its modernity – now it is just a faded shadow of typical 1980s blandness. Inside the place does indeed retain quite a lot of the old-style “charm” of shopping, eating and drinking that basically is still the same as in the late 1980s. And the prices have not risen all that much since then either (well, they have a bit – but they are still markedly lower than in the city centre or the new flashy shopping malls that have sprung up en masse all around Bratislava).
 
Driving on we passed the Trade Union House, the fantastical upside-down pyramid of the Slovak Radio Building, the Friendship Fountain on Freedom Square and the presidential palace (see, again, under Bratislava) before ascending the hill to the north-west of the city centre to get to the Slavin monument. This is also described in a separate chapter here.
 
Having this stop included in the tour by car saved me the uphill walk to get to the monument on foot. In addition we were fortunate that Peter spotted an acquaintance who let us onto the terrace of an ex-cafe from socialist times (now converted into some sort of business centre) from where we has a stunning view over the city and towards the Hrad (castle). En route up the hill we also passed the villa in which Alexandr Dubček was put under house arrest after the crushing of the Prague Spring
 
Of course, as mentioned above, the order of things could be different on this type of tour, even starting at the Slavin monument – which in some ways would make sense given the views from up there, which could make a good first introduction to Bratislava!
 
All in all, I found this a superb tour. It included plenty of places that you could otherwise not get to so easily and which are way off the ordinary tourist tracks. And the guiding was witty, illuminating and inspiring. Highly recommended.
 
 
Location: various locations across the city – here are the Google maps locators for the most important locations additional to those covered under Bratislava >locations or the separate entries for Slavin and Iron Curtain:
 
Derelict Matador tyre factory: [48.1195, 17.0932]
 
Abandoned metro terminus: [48.0944, 17.1093]
 
Ex-brewery: [48.1562, 17.1229]
 
Market Hall: [48.1575, 17.1261]
 
 
Access and costs: what would otherwise be tricky is made easy by this tour; reasonably priced
 
Details: The meeting point for the tour is by default, i.e. if not otherwise specified at SNP Square on the edge of the Old Town, but you can also be picked up from your hotel in Bratislava (if it's not too far out of the way) or at a train station, either the main one north of the city centre or in Petržalka (convenient if you're coming in from Vienna and also closer to some of the points of interest on this tour).
 
Price per person: from 22 EUR, if part of a group of 4-7, for the 2-hour tour, to 49 EUR for 2 people for the 4-hour tour. If you want a solo tour the price is that for 2 people minus 10% (58 EUR for the shorter 2-hour tour, 88 EUR for the longer 4-hour version.)
 
Time and date: in theory any day, preferably starting in the morning, but afternoons are also possible. All subject to availability. It's a small tour company with only a handful of guides, so booking a bit ahead is advisable if you can.
 
Check this page for "Authentic Slovakia" (sponsored page with an external link to their own website and online booking form).
 
 
Time required: 2 or 4 hours, respectively for the short or longer version – but tours can overrun (my tailored longer version was supposed to be 7 hours but ended up at more than 8 hours).
 
 
Combinations with other dark destinations: In general see under Bratislava
  
I had my tour specially tailored to be combined with parts of other tours that Authentic Slovakia offer (see the sponsored page for Authentic Slovakia here), so you can even build in combinations. Otherwise check the various tours that Authentic Slovakia offer. If you like cycling, for instance, they also do a bike tour along the Danube to parts of the former Iron Curtain border that are otherwise not easy to get to.
 
 
Combinations with non-dark destinations: see under Bratislava.
 
 
  
  • pst 1 - abandoned tyre factory partly demolishedpst 1 - abandoned tyre factory partly demolished
  • pst 2 - chimney stack of the abandoned tyre factorypst 2 - chimney stack of the abandoned tyre factory
  • pst 3 - Petrzalkapst 3 - Petrzalka
  • pst 4 - former cultural centrepst 4 - former cultural centre
  • pst 5 - abandoned metro terminuspst 5 - abandoned metro terminus
  • pst 6 - crossing SNP bridgepst 6 - crossing SNP bridge
  • pst 7 - old brewerypst 7 - old brewery
  • pst 8 - upside-down pyramid radio building seen from Slavin hillpst 8 - upside-down pyramid radio building seen from Slavin hill
  • pst 9 - guide Peter with his old Skoda carpst 9 - guide Peter with his old Skoda car
 
 
 
 

 

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