I didn’t have much planned for my trip to Bratislava. I mostly just wanted to wander around and look at the Old Town. But one of the few things I had researched because I knew that I didn’t want to miss out on it was the Church of St Elisabeth aka the Blue Church.
Its name is fairly obvious. It’s called the Blue Church because the exterior and interior of the church are dominated by pastel shades of the colour blue. It’s a Hungarian Secessionist Catholic Church that was built between 1909-1913 in Hungarian Art Nouveau style, designed by architect Edmund Lechner. I have a huge soft spot in my heart for Art Nouveau because I love the Arts and Crafts movement in the UK and especially the work of William Morris. (And who can fail to love the Art Nouveau metro station designs in Paris – especially the entrance at Abessess)
But back to the Blue Church. The facade is blue. The mosaics are blue. The majolicas are blue. Everything, including the roof, is blue. And not only exterior – its interior as well. It almost reminded me of the works of Modernist architecture by Gaudi, with its expressive nature and curved lines.
The Blue Church is named after St Elisabeth, a medieval princess and native of Bratislava who risked her royal titles by giving alms to the poor. The mosaic depicting her “miracle” is right over the main door once you’re inside.
Across the street is a massive Soviet era hospital in a classic communist style, so the contrast between fairy-tale blue church and grey block is especially jarring. But that’s one of the things that I loved so much about Bratislava – the juxtaposition of different periods of history so starkly in the city’s architecture.
The church had the feeling of a overly decorated cupcake, or a Wes Anderson church. Basically, I loved it. It’s such a wonderful feeling to walk into a church and be surrounded by colour and joy instead of claustrophobic gothic-ness. I was really swept away by it. When you’re traveling around Europe at one point in time you usually fall into the mindset of “you’ve seen one church, you’ve seen them all” but St Elisabeth’s proves this maxim false for sure.
It almost made me giggle looking at the outside of the church, but once I was inside I couldn’t help but be wowed by how lovely it was, and how much the city has embraced its “differentness”.
It takes about 15 minutes to walk from the centre of the Old Town (or about 7 minutes from the National Theatre) to the Blue Church. But it’s a lovely walk. It’s a small church so it doesn’t take long to look around. You’d only need about 20 minutes maximum!
It’s free to enter, but you have to plan your visit ahead of time, because the church has fairly unusual opening hours! It’s open Monday – Saturday 6:30 am – 8am and 5:30 pm-7:30 pm.
It is located at: Bezručova 2534/2, 811 09 Bratislava, Slovakia
Isn’t it gorgeous? Would you go out of your way to see it?
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