Južná trieda (The Southern Boulevard)
A long boulevard forms the city’s main axis. It runs North-South, beginning at the foot of the narrow Čermeľ valley that frames the city from the north, cuts through the Old Town, and continues all the way into the industrial periphery in the south of the city. It changes name several times along the way, widening and narrowing as it goes on. Layered along its entire length are many attributes that characterize the city.
At its northernmost point, the boulevard forms a natural gate to the city. From here you can reach the city’s forests, especially the nearby and much-enjoyed Alpinka, Bankov and Jahodná resorts. At this point it does not even remotely resemble a boulevard. The quiet suburb that lines the Čermeľ valley ends by the Lokomotíva football stadium. By the trams’ turning point, the boulevard takes up the name Komenského, and functionally and visually starts to resemble a grand boulevard. Komenského is lined by four-storey apartment houses built in the 1950s and has trams running down the middle of it. Thanks to the nearby campuses of the Technical and Veterinary Universities, the pavements are lively. Continuing south, the boulevard joins onto the artery of the Old Town, becoming Hlavná, the pedestrian Main street, which feels more like a series of interconnected squares. Following all the churches, theatres, fountains and ancient palaces, the street ends abruptly with a brutal black monolith of a building, the city inhabitants’ humble tribute to Stanley Kubrick and his cinema masterpieces, especially the 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Leaving the Old Town at this point, and crossing Námestie Osloboditeľov (the Liberators Square), the boulevard becomes Južná trieda (the Southern Boulevard). Three quarters of the population living in the tower-blocks around it are pensioners; the broad street has a motionless atmosphere, existing outside of time. It is divided into an industrial and a residential part, roughly in a two to one proportion. The cherry trees that line the residential part, with sakura blossoms floating in the air and on the pavements, remind you of the fact that you are not in Europe.
The transition from the residential to industrial suburbia is clearly marked by a crossroads. The never-ending rows of warehouses, yards and low administrative buildings sprawl around Južná trieda all the way to the large road overpass. Past this crossroads you enter Barca, a delightful part of town that to this day hasn’t shaken off its rural character. The boulevard itself ends where the tram tracks stop, turning around the glossy bronze statue of Pope John Paul II to head back into town. Past the city’s southern gate, the road continues through small villages and into a different country.
It is not necessary to leave the boulvard at any point, but it is often worth it. You can converge and diverge around this long axis, remaining in absolute value. When soaking in the changing moods of the boulvard, the following count as sins: checking your watch, keeping your car’s windows shut, pedaling too swiftly.
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