In Petržalka, the very edge of the city of Bratislava on the western bank of the Danube, sits a string of concrete bunkers scattered across a variety of fields and woods. These are the best-preserved remnants of an expensive border defense system that was constructed throughout the country over 80 years ago.
In the 1930s, what was then Czechoslovakia invested in a line of military fortifications to defend against invasion by Nazi Germany, which by 1938 following the annexation of Austria (Anschluss), also threatened Bratislava, which sits on the Danube mere miles from the Austrian border.
At the time of building the bunkers were state of the art, but ultimately proved of little use. Under the Munich Agreement brokered between Britain, France, and Germany, Czechoslovakia was forced to give up most of its borderlands, including the bunkers. This left the country with a new, poorly defended border and soon afterward the entirety of what was Czechoslovakia fell under Nazi control.
There are 14 surviving bunkers along the stretch of border. The largest and best preserved is BS-8, which is maintained as a museum by a team of dedicated volunteers. If you are lucky or make advance contact, they will give tours allowing you access inside the restored bunker. BS-8 is located next to a small World War I cemetery and a slightly incongruous picnic area and playground. Other smaller bunkers, BS-9, and BS-7 can also be found nearby.
Standing at BS-8 you can see a nearby road across a field; this road is where the border with Austria lies. Standing at the bunker looking across the perfectly flat fields, you get a sense of the vulnerability the young nation that created these bunkers must have felt.
Know Before You Go
There are tours to the bunkers but they are also accessible by public transport or walking. Finding the bunkers is not always straightforward though, and it helps to have access to a phone or other device with GPS-enabled maps. Most of the bunkers are marked on Google Maps or the map on the Bunker BS-8 website. BS-8 (and nearby BS-9 and BS-7) are probably the easiest to get to and, for energetic visitors are a good starting point to work your way back to the city along the string of fortifications.
To get to BS-8 take the number 80 bus from Zochova stop near the old town and travel for 7 stops to Kopčianska street. Once you get off, walk further down Kopčianska street until you see the signs on the right that say "bunker." Do not take the advice of Google Maps in taking other buses such as the 91 or 191 and following alternative walking paths routes. They may not look it, but they are significantly more convoluted once you get off the bus. BS-8 can also be accessed by car directly from the Austrian side of the border.