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Stará Tržnica: difficult birth, beautiful child

Year after year, passersby in downtown Bratislava had grown acustomed to turning their heads at the sight of Stará Tržnica ('Old Market'). Dust, clanging machinery and a shabby steel fence shrouded what had once been the capital's proudest monument at the bottom of SNP square.
But on December 13, after endless delays in reconstruction, squabbles over funding, and long periods of inaction, the gates of the reconstructed old market swung open to admit a curious public.
At first glance, the remodelled building left onlookers rather disappointed. While the structure has been beautifully preserved, the inside remains surprisingly cold and empty; with few shops to browse in and few goods to buy.


Tržnica's glass and white metal construction echoes its original design.
photo: TASR

Year after year, passersby in downtown Bratislava had grown acustomed to turning their heads at the sight of Stará Tržnica ('Old Market'). Dust, clanging machinery and a shabby steel fence shrouded what had once been the capital's proudest monument at the bottom of SNP square.

But on December 13, after endless delays in reconstruction, squabbles over funding, and long periods of inaction, the gates of the reconstructed old market swung open to admit a curious public.

At first glance, the remodelled building left onlookers rather disappointed. While the structure has been beautifully preserved, the inside remains surprisingly cold and empty; with few shops to browse in and few goods to buy.

Two-thirds of the market's total of 90 shops are still empty, though Nataša Farmerová, a representative of the Spiller Farmer daughter company SF Stará Tržnica, said that most of the shops will be open by the middle of January. "Almost 90% of the shop sites are already rented," she said.

At the moment, shoppers can purchase fruits, vegatables, flowers, chocolates and paper. A newspaper stand with international publications is open next to the front entrance, and a travel agency has a cubicle on the first floor.

Nostalgic opening

The bare interior didn't discourage lavish praise of the project, however. "After a difficult birth we have a beautiful child," said Bratislava Deputy Mayor Pavol Minárik at the December 13 grand opening.

"Stará Tržnica finally completes Námestie SNP," said former Bratislava Mayor Peter Kresánek. "This historical building is a shopping alternative to the commercial sites, but for me this place is nostalgic."

The reconstruction was finished by Bratislava City Council and Spiller Farmer, a partner of the British-based developers Healey and Baker, at a cost of 390 million crowns ($9.2 million). Well-known architects Viktória Cvengrošová and Virgil Droppa copied the glass and white stainless-steel construction of the 1910 market by Guyla Laubner to preserve the old-style feel.

"The reconstructed interior is excellent, and it was important there was a lot of local support from the Bratislava city," said Laurie Farmer, director of Spiller Farmer.

When it's finally filled next year, the market will have three floors of shops starting with an underground level offering fresh fish, venison and wine boutiques. Besides fruit stands, the ground-floor will have cafés, a grocery store and a bakery. Take the lift to the first floor to find souvenirs, books and a City Gallery which displays the architect's further plans for the revitalisation of SNP square. Half of the floor has been rented by the local Stein brewery, which is constructing an Irish-style pub.

Shops will be open Monday to Friday, 6:00-18:00, on Saturday 6:00-13:00 and on Sunday, 6:00-11:00.

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