There are two very different buildings in Bratislava that share an important cultural task. They both house the Slovak National Theater. As a tourist visiting Bratislava, it is difficult to miss the Old Slovak National Theater. In fact, it is one of the more eye-catching buildings in the old town of Bratislava. Located at the end of Hviezdoslav Square (Hviezdoslavovo námestie) this Neo-Renaissance building creates a fascinating attraction. It stands in a very central spot of the city, and many events (such as the Christmas Market) take place right in front of it.
The Old Slovak National Theater
The Slovak National Theater is the second oldest professional theatre in Slovakia. Currently, the theater has three ensembles: opera, ballet, and drama. As such, it is one of the country’s most important cultural institutions.
The old theater housed two ensembles, the opera, and the ballet. Initially, its name was the City Theater, The first performance saw daylight in 1886. It was Ferenc Erkel’s opera Bánk bán. Its opening was a great happening at the time, the Hungarian prime minister and his government were in the audience. In 1920 the theater changed names to Slovak National Theater. It started its activities with another opera on March 1, 1920; the premiere of Smetana’s ’The Kiss’. It became state-controlled after the war in 1945.
Upon its foundation, the Slovak National Theater moved into the building at the end of Hviezdoslav Square where it stayed until the more recent move in 2007. Since the move, the old building in the old town of Bratislava has been used in parallel with the new one. It was restored between 1969 and 1972 and these days you can enjoy an opera or ballet performance there. The new building stands near the Danube, next to Eurovea.
Finding Your Way
You can easily reach the old theater on foot as it is in the middle of the old town. See the map below.