Námestie SNP is the square in Bratislava that is named in memory of the Slovak National Uprising (Slovenské Národné Povstanie) in 1944. The square has had several names throughout the years. For instance, it has been named after people such as Kaiser Wilhelm II, Andrej Hlinka as well as Josef Stalin. It has played an important role in recent history as well. The Velvet Revolution in 1989 saw demonstrations erupt at Hviezdoslavovo Námestie, These demonstrations later moved on to Námestie SNP.
Many bars and restaurants surround the square, but also today it is this very square that is being the witness of some the largest demonstrations ever witnessed in Slovakia. The demonstrations now taking place relate to the murder of the journalist Ján Kuciak his fiancee, Martina Kušnírová. As reported by both Slovak and international media, the protestors demanded a change in Slovak politics and the resignation of the Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico. Protests that are probably leading to a government collapse. That’s a long story in a few words, in case you’re not familiar with Slovak politics. Now, let’s look at the history of the square.
The Slovak National Uprising
The Slovak National Uprising was an armed insurrection during World War II. Slovakia was at the time controlled by Nazi Germany and this was the resistance towards the occupation. At the time, a collaborationist government under Jozef Tiso led the so-called Slovak Republic. In 1944 rebelling forces – mainly the civic democratic movement- mobilized in central and eastern Slovakia. The center of the partisan resistance came to be around the Tatra Mountains in the central part of Slovakia.
It all began when the soldiers entered the city of Banská Bystrica on August 30 and made it their headquarter. 47.000 men were mobilized into the uprising and the rebels had by September 10 advanced. They had then gained control of large areas in central and eastern Slovakia.
German SS soldiers were sent to regain control of the area and the expected assistance and help from the Soviet Union was not to be seen. This eventually resulted in Germany taking back most of the lost areas by the end of October. The fighting did continue in the Tatra Mountains for a few more months with the result of the execution of most insurgents as well as several villages burned to the ground.
Námestie Slovenského Národného Povstania (Námestie SNP)
Today the square memorates the events of 1944 with a big monument. The monument was unveiled in 1974 and is the centerpiece of the square. The square is, however, one of the largest ones in Bratislava and you will find several buildings of importance around it. As we have mentioned, it is an important meeting place.
Around the square you will find for example:
- Manderlák, the first high-rise building in Bratislava with its 11 floors. Dating back to the 1930s, it’s 45 meters tall.
- Stará tržnica, the old market building, right next to the Old Town. It has played many roles throughout history – apparently, it even served as a TV studio back in the day. These days you can enjoy all types of markets and events there.
- Bratislava Flag Ship Restaurant, a restaurant located in a former cinema. It offers local Bratislava cuisine and various Slovak dishes. Our favorite when it comes to Slovak cuisine? We like the Slovak garlic soup and nakladany encian.
- Kalvínsky kostol, a Reformed Church
- Several more restaurants, bars, and cafés
The Slovak Spectator also has an interesting article about the square.
Finding Your Way to Námestie SNP
Námestie SNP is located on the outskirts of the Old Town, slightly to the north-east. One of the tram lines stops right at the square. It is also near the main shopping street Obchodná as well as Kamenné námestie with more tram stops and a big Tesco.