I step up the concrete stairs and try not to make much noise. Adrenaline levels in my blood are rushing high, heart is pumping. I snap quick photos and hide my camera behind my back, walking slowly around the dirty corners, listening attentively to the sounds of the forest that has ingurgitated this pride of medicine, this top notch hospital that never attended a single patient.
Drop, drop, the water trickles through the many roofs and floors…
I have stayed behind taking pictures and I have no idea where my husband is. The unfinished construction of the hospital is huge and eerie and I enter one of the shady hallways, my stupid jingle bell anklets ringing with every step.
I walk past rooms that were meant for the ill and for those who try to heal them. Graffiti on the grey walls and empty cans of spray show somebody´s recent presence. I walk past them and come closer to the corner when I hear some cracking and creaking. I abruptly stop and listen – the noises do not stop
I turn around hastily and walk back to the stairs. Up and up I climb, thinking there must be a great view from up there. Suddenly, my phone starts ringing.
* * *
It was a hot summer day in the 1986 and an important decision was taken concerning the project of a new, third-millennium-worthy hospital in Bratislava; in spite of the suffocating weather, the construction of such a hospital was included into the five years plan of the communist government of Socialist Czechoslovakia, stamps were placed in the right places and signatures were completed. It was an essential decision – what was in the five years plan, had to be focused upon to 150% ! The former owners of the land were kicked out, getting paid a lousy sum for their lots and the work began.
Thirty years later, on a cloudy day of summer, we ride our bicycles to Dúbravka and then to Lamač where the ruin stands still. We are not exactly sure how to get to the construction site than has been since overtaken by Mother Nature. We follow our instinct and soon enough, we are thrusting through the weeds, trees and raspberries that scratch our skin, towards our goal. And suddenly, there it is.
The glorious concrete monster, almost an urban legend, but too concrete to be a myth. Clothed in green moss, macabre and peaceful at the same time – the unfinished and abandoned hospital of the third millennium stands here silently.
It is there that the video game begins. Feeling like Stalker, the hero of the movie by Andrei Tarkovsky entering The Zone, I walk past the broken glass and across the mud. We get to the stairs and soon part ways.
When my phone rings, I am worried someone might hear it but I listen nevertheless to the instructions of how to get to the heliport. We join again and explore more before it gets too dark.
The hospital construction ran into financial problems in the beginning of the nineties – no wonder, such a massive project was bound to fail in those wild times of switching systems. There were supposed to be not only hundreds of beds, but also study rooms for young doctors to be, classrooms, housing for the students and laboratories. The architects even magnanimously planned for apartments for the employees. Needless to say none of that ever became reality.
The opulent concrete mixing plant threw out tons of material and after the building got more or less deserted, continued to produce concrete for other construction sites in the vicinity.
The works definitely stopped in 2000. In 2013, the last spark of hope was extinguished when the government announced that a brand new hospital would be constructed instead of finishing the decaying rough construction while costing half of the expenses necessary for the unlucky Rázsochy hospital. (Ugh, supposedly.) And so the building seems doomed; the locality is expensive but to pull down the existing building would cost a fortune. The state has already spent more than 70 millions of euros, but the result doesn´t make locals happy.
The water finds its way inside, trees grow in the patios and floors are covered in moss and rot. Silence reigns and a tender wind sways green branches who stick out from the roof. Mother Nature takes back what was taken away from her and it seems she is the only one who doesn´t spare expenses to bring back some solemnity to this place.
Stray story seeker. Hungry hitchhiker. Wannabe polyglot. Aspiring travel writer. Currently bumming around in Georgia.
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