During my travels with my family, we also went to Bratislava at the suggestion of a Moldovan friend that had been there before. I loved that Bratislava was a smaller city, but yet still rich in history. While we were there we took a tour through the Soviet and ancient history of the area.
After the Communist Party seized power in Czechoslovakia in February 1948, the city became part of the USSR. Large residential areas consisting of high-rise prefabricated panel buildings or Soviet blocs, and several new grandiose buildings, were built by the new Soviet government.
In 1968, after the unsuccessful attempt to liberalize the Communist regime, referred to as The Prague Spring reforms, the city was occupied by Warsaw Pact troops.
The Prague Spring consisted of a series of reforms, including loosening of restrictions on the media, speech and travel. The leader at the time, Dubček oversaw the decision to split the country into two, the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic. This was the only change that survived the end of Prague Spring.
The reforms, especially the decentralization of administrative authority, were not received well by the Soviets, who, after failed negotiations, sent thousands of Warsaw Pact troops and tanks to occupy the country. Shortly thereafter, Slovakia became capital of the Slovak Socialist Republic, one of the two states in Czechoslovakia.
Bratislava’s dissidents claim to have begun the fall of Communism with the Bratislava candle demonstration in 1988, and the city was one of the centers of the anti-Communist Velvet Revolution in 1989.
In 1993, the city became the capital of the newly formed Slovak Republic following the Velvet Divorce, from the Czech Republic. In the 1990s and the early 21st century, its economy boomed due to foreign investment.
It was really interesting seeing and learning about another former Soviet state’s history and post-soviet transformation. There were certainly some similarities, such as the food, but there were also large and noticeable differences in developement.