There is a large housing settlement on the east side of Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. It’s comprised of three tight circles of low-rise towers from the Soviet era, both in their vintage and their design. In the middle of the center circle is a park—harboring a UFO.
The area is called Medzijarky, and was built in the mid-1970s when Slovakia was still half of Czechoslovakia, and all of Czechoslovakia was part of the Soviet bloc. The UFO sculpture at its center was erected at the time of construction, created by local artist Juraj Hovorka. It’s big—15 feet tall and 26 feet across—so big that kids originally were able to crawl inside and play Star Trek (if only Czechoslovakian TV had Star Trek).
A well-known and well-schooled sculptor, Hovorka actually lived in one of the Medzijarky towers. His work tended towards what might be called “monumental realism,” which could also describe his UFO—“realism” for an alien spacecraft that is.
The name Medzijarky translates roughly as “between the ditches” in Slovakian, and the neighborhood was built during the period of communist rule over the joint state. The years following the country’s split saw the project fall into disrepair and neglect, and that included the quirky UFO. Eventually plans were made to revitalize and update the housing, and the city wanted to take the sculpture down. But the neighbors stood in defense of their spaceship, and lobbied successfully to keep it.
The Medzijarky UFO is actually the second most famous UFO in Bratislava. There is one that tops the downtown bridge over the Danube, and it’s become a kind of symbol of for the city. It rises 27 stories over the water, and hosts a sky-scraping destination restaurant. The bridge UFO may be better known, but this one, although it no longer allows the human children inside, looks more like the real thing.