You no longer can hear 'Hello! It's me' from there, but phone booths still stand in parliament house

A tunnel leads from the Slovak parliament building to the nearby castle as well.

The building of the SLovak Parliament and the Castle in BratislavaThe building of the SLovak Parliament and the Castle in Bratislava (Source: Courtesy of NR SR )

The so-called new building of the Slovak parliament, or officially the National Council of the Slovak Republic, located near Bratislava Castle, features several interesting features. These are telephone booths from when there were no mobile phones or a tunnel.

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There were originally 11 telephone booths from which it was possible to make free calls all over the world. They were used by members of parliament, as well as journalists. But at the time MPs did not want to talk on the phone very much, because journalists were closely watching whether someone was on the phone for half an hour for free, noted Ľubomír Adamišin from the media communications department of the Slovak parliament.

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Only three of the booths remain, but they are not used any more. The last time the booths were used more intensively was between 1998 and 1999.

The three remaining telephone booths. The three remaining telephone booths. (Source: TASR)

“At that time, the media preferred telephone live broadcasting,” said Adamišin as cited by the TASR newswire. “When a journalist went in, a red light switched on outside to prevent anyone from entering and disrupting his or her live broadcast.”

Adamišin remembers a parliamentary session with an important vote just before the news scheduled for 19:00. Journalists were creating a waiting list for the booths at that time.

Via tunnel on foot

Another interesting feature of the building is the 150-metre underground tunnel connecting it to the premises of Bratislava Castle. The tunnel goes from the parliamentary building to the offices of MPs in the building on the western terrace of the castle.

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Beside the hall is the parliamentary lounge, where no one except politicians is allowed.

“It's officially intended for the mental hygiene of MPs,” said Adamišin. “They use the lounge for informal conversations and meetings. In the room around the walls there are tables with lamps, resembling a study room.”

The room was originally intended so that the MPs could prepare a factual note or a speech here. There are newspapers and magazines, and refreshments are available, noted Adamišin. In the lounge, as well as the entire building, it is possible to watch and hear a live broadcast from the hall on the screens.

Designed for one-party rule

The construction of the building, criticised for disturbing the view of Bratislava Castle, started in June 1986 but was completed after the fall of the communist regime in 1993. Its design had to be adapted following fundamental political and social changes. Originally, the building was designed for the rule of a single party, the communist one. Then Czechoslovakia held the first democratic elections in 1992. The first session in the new parliamentary building took place on May 25, 1994.

Before, parliament members would meet in the historical Župný Dom on Župné Square, a rebuilt monastery from the 18th century. The monastery is a national monument today and serves for top political negotiations and meetings, conferences and workshops.

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