Bratislava is one of the few European capital cities which remains relatively “off the beaten path”. It’s a hidden gem which used to be one of the most strategic borders between East and West during the Cold War Era. The Slovak capital can be an interesting, educational, and incredibly exciting place in its own right.
Even among those who venture to Bratislava, however, few travelers are able to locate and experience the charms of the Haunted Hipster Hospital. If you’re as interested in exploring abandoned buildings as I am, I strongly urge you to do so. Of the many rotting historical buildings I’ve been privy to explore, this particular site is truly one-of-a-kind and will leave a lasting impression, guaranteed.
I cannot (or, more accurately, will not) reveal the precise location of the Haunted Hipster Hospital. What would be the fun of finding it? But don’t fret; I promise to provide enough clues to lead you there.
First, you must find your way to a bustling hipster street market. There will be thousands of bicycles locked up all around its boundaries. Wander through the market and you will discover many pleasant sensory delights. Paperback books being sold on the beds of trucks. Reasonably-priced designer wine and beer manufactured from micro-breweries in the region. Mementos and food stalls from a surprising number of far-away lands. Hipsters in a seemingly endless competition as to whose beard will stand out the most.
Nearby this exotic street extravaganza is where you will find what was once the hospital, during the Communist Czechoslovakian times of yesteryear. It’s a whitewashed building about six floors tall, decaying but in surprisingly sturdy condition after decades of sitting vacant.
The Haunted Hipster Hospital is surrounded by a rusting green metal fence which is about two meters tall. It’s easy enough to climb, just be careful while maneuvering your crotch over its sharp-pointed top edges. And alas, you’ve made it! Welcome to the grounds. Let’s head inside….
Although the outside of the building is mostly devoid of graffiti, once you venture through one of the many open doorways or broken windows, there to greet you will be heavily-tagged walls throughout the interiors. I suggest you take time to analyze the graffiti artworks (other than the childish ones of dicks-and-balls, which are were quite prevalent during my trip). There are some interesting and very artistic displays throughout the building. Some may look amateurish, but look closer and you’ll realize they’re just bits and pieces of a bigger picture. Many wall displays are parts of something grander, some artworks even compose multiple rooms.
And that’s one of the main charms of this particular hospital. It’s apparently a place for local artists and taggers, many of whom are presumably homeless, to go hang out unencumbered and practice their creative works while participating in who knows how many extracurricular activities while they’re at it.
The dozens of rooms are mostly bare, devoid of any equipment or furniture. Simple concrete carcasses awaiting their inevitable demolition date. However, many rooms have been modified so they now serve as de facto art exhibits.
Some contain complete sets of clothes, assembled so they seem like they’re being worn by someone invisible. Perhaps a ghost is in the room and the clothes are a sign of their earthly presence? Other rooms had very peculiar and sometimes downright creepy displays.
Stuffed animals or dolls with stab marks and covered with fake (?) blood. Others have been hanged or beheaded from makeshift guillotines. Often it’s a scene of mass murder and calamity, played out in the anguish which is displayed by the dolls and other false-life forms.
One entire hallway is lined with inside-out umbrellas, which have been secured to every window. Other rooms have pieces of string and yarn completely strewn about the premises, providing a labyrinthine illusion.
There was a large room which may have been used as a lecture hall many years ago. It now has various antiques strewn about it. Another sector features broken windows which are dripping with dried “blood”.
Up on the fourth floor, things get interesting as we stumble across a series of rooms which have been converted into squatters’ quarters. None of their occupants are present (or so we assume) as we explore. One room has an impressive arsenal of porn magazines stacked in the corner. The occupant of the next room down apparently didn’t need porn, in his room lie a pile of used condoms.
Finally we reach the rooftop, which provides great views of the Bratislava castle, less than a half kilometer away, and the surrounding neighborhoods. But we soon venture back inside to do more exploring.
If you venture up to the attic, be careful as the floor is, let’s say, not very stable. Also the basement is completely devoid of light, even in mid-day. If you plan on exploring down there, remember to bring a torch. Both these places are well worth checking out, by the way, they include their own unexpected charms.
My biggest regret from my trip to the Haunted Hipster Hospital is never coming across any of its tenants.
I wanted to see the artists who created such dark and original works of “art”. The people who are actually living in such an odd place, free of charge. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be. On my trip (I was accompanied by a bunch of Slovak locals), we saw nobody else at all. Perhaps if you visit this unforgettable locale, you will have a bit more luck and can tell me all about it!
If you are currently in or around Bratislava, what are you waiting for? Get on down to this hospital. Good luck!