Statues of Bratislava
I don’t know the history behind all of the statues, but here are a few interesting stories about some of them.
Schöner Náci: This statue was based on an actual man who lived in Bratislava in the early 20th century. Legend has it that he lost his mind because the woman he loved didn’t love him back. So that is what led him to roam the streets, singing and handing out flowers to the ladies. Even though he was poor, he was always dressed well and was never seen without his signature top hat.
Hviezdoslav: I like the history behind this statue. Bratislava used to be part of Hungary, and Hungary is a little bit obsessed with one of its poets, Sándor Petőfi. (A lot of places in Hungary are named after him.) So the statue standing in this place was originally one of Petőfi. But the inhabitants of Bratislava wanted to assert that they were no longer part of Hungary. So they took some dynamite and blew up the statue. (Apparently, Slovak relations with Hungary have been a little tense ever since.) The Slovaks wanted to replace it with a symbol of Slovakia, so they erected the statue of their famous poet, Pavol Országh Hviezdoslav. Ironically, he actually has Hungarian roots, and a lot of his Slovak audience didn’t even understand his poetry because he used a lot of Hungarian in his writing.
Napoleon: When Napoleon went on a conquering spree throughout Europe, he failed to defeat Bratislava. (The castle is actually a really strong fortress whose walls he was unable to breach.) This statue is significant because it shows him hunched over in shame, with his hat covering his eyes. Just behind it is the French Embassy, so I’m sure they enjoy looking out their windows at the back of their defeated war hero.
Cumil: This guy peeping out of the ground wasn’t based on any real figures of Bratislava, but it is famous nonetheless. The story used to be that he is there to look up the ladies’ skirts. Now he has even more to add to his history, because the statue had several close calls with cars (he is, after all, right on a street corner). So the “Man at Work” sign to the right of him was put in to ensure that drivers wouldn’t hit him. It’s said that if you touch his head, you’ll be certain to come back to Bratislava. Needless to say, I bent over and gave it a quick tap.