The UFO bridge in Bratislava is for sure the most photographed bridge in the region.
I am not quite certain if it is for the right reasons, however, in spite of its controversial birth, this bridge has become one of the most popular attractions for the tourists coming to the capital of Slovakia.
It has even scored some architectonic prizes – in 2001, it was proclaimed to be THE building of the 20th century (in the category of bridges, that is), it belongs to the association with a fancy name World Federation of Great Towers (it is the only bridge on the list as well!) and, just a cherry on the top of the concrete cake, it is the only bridge in Bratislava without a single pylon supporting it in the river.
Ah, and also it is topped by the only UFO that has ever landed in Slovakia.
Visiting the capital of Slovakia? Why not check out my Local´s guide to Bratislava with a map?
New bridge or the Bridge of the Slovak National Uprising?
While tourists mostly refer to this hanged grey hound as the “UFO bridge” (and for a good reason!), the locals use two other names. The official name is currently Most SNP (or, if you must, the Bridge of the Slovak National Uprising)(makes me think of Bob Marley for some reason…), but used to be the Nový most (New Bridge) until August 2012 which became obstructively confusing for everyone after the actual new bridge was finished. The newest bridge in Bratislava is called Most Apollo (Apollo Bridge, duh) and sometimes referred to as Most Košická. It is the shiny one with the blue and white arc, in case you wondered.
Interesting facts about the UFO bridge
It is the world’s longest cable-stayed bridge to have one pylon and one cable-stayed plane. (That means, it is literally hanging on a couple of cables from one column standing on the river bank! Besides of having a flying saucer on the top, which is, as you know, just a marginal detail.
The UFO is also a popular place for street poets and graffiti artists, who mostly just write weird rhymes and draw psychedelic motives – not much to really admire, but enough to laugh about as you pass by. Needless to say, the city is always trying to eradicate these subversive acts of modern folk culture, which it proves by steadily and patiently painting the bridge grey again and again.
The bridge is one of the cooler spots to watch sunset from as it offers a nice view of the castle, fit for short-sighted people such as yours truly.
Now that the Old bridge has been renovated (it is actually the new newest bridge in the city)(you know, the green one with tramway), you can pick and choose a different bridge to watch sunsets from for every working day of the week. (Meaning to say there are currently 5 bridges in Bratislava.)
The pylon is 85 meters tall and the bridge itself 430 meters long. The diameter of the UFO is 32 meters.
There is a restaurant and a viewpoint terrace on top of the bridge called originally UFO watch. taste. groove. – it gets about 200.000 visitors every year. You can take the elevator to go up.
Inside of the bridge is located a water pipeline, supplying the Old Town with water from Petrzalka side.
This bridge inspired the construction of a similar bridge located in Riga, Latvia.
Stories from the road: Check out the 5 weirdest places I have ever slept at!
Opening hours of the UFO restaurant
The restaurant on the top of the bridge along with the observation deck is open daily from 10:00 til 23:00, seven days a week.
Read more: Communist architecture in Bratislava
Is there an entrance fee to the UFO viewpoint?
You don´t have to pay for the entrance to the viewpoint (or, as they luxuriously call it, the Observation deck) if you order food at the restaurant. Otherwise, they will charge you the following:
Adults: 7,40 €
Students / groups of 15+ people: 4,95 €
Children from 111+ cm up to 15 years old: 3,95 €
Children up to 111 cm, tourist guides and disabled people: free
Tourist guides, students and disabled people need to show their ID card.
(Information updated by yours truly in January 2017)
Read more: I said I loved traveling solo, but I LIED. (an outstandingly honest travel essay)
Tragic history of the UFO bridge
The history of our quirky bridge begins in the deep, dark waters of the communist sixties. Even though the bridge connecting the downtown of Bratislava with Petrzalka is rather famous (well…among bridge aficionados, at least!), its project didn´t win the competition – it actually ended up being 4th!
But as it often happens, it was chosen anyway because of its reasonable budget. The construction works started in 1967 and shoop shoop finished in 1972 which was peculiarly fast compared to the usual tempo of commie buildings.
Never finished: Commies also planned to build the metro, but that never happened! Check out the abandoned metro station in my article.
However, in order to move on with the bridge, the communists decided to act drastically as ever. Prior to the construction, the government of Czechoslovakia viciously decided to destroy a considerable part of the Old Town of Bratislava. The Pressburgers, as the locals are sometimes referred to, are still mourning those familiar places. It is a sore wound in the heart of the capital. Destroyed and discarded were the Moorish style synagogue (which is portrayed on the black tiles where it used to stand – nearby the cathedral), precious buildings of the Jewish quarter, legendary Vydrica neighborhood and a part of the castle hill. When you take this into account, it is hard to enjoy the interesting architecture of this river crossing.
The weirdest bridge in Central Europe
I actually think this is one of the strangest bridges ever, but I don´t want you to think I am some kind of a crazy bridge chauvinist. The UFO bridge is an interesting building with a troubled history, but also holds an important position as a connection point. While tourists flock to take photos of & and from the top of it, every local who respects themselves despises this bridge at least a bit for being a far too grey replacement of the historically valuable neighborhoods that were erased because of it.
Whether you think it is a fascinating element of the modern city, another crazy communist project, or a nasty scar on the face of the town, there is no way to avoid it – you can see it pretty much from everywhere.
What do you think of this bridge? Would you pay for the entrance or rather have a meal? Share your opinion in the comments – I love it when you speak to me.
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