On a crisp Fall day with clear, azure skies it’s hard to take a bad photo – but I’m having no luck. It’s “Blue on Blue.” My subject seems to blend right into the sky and nearly disappear – except for the white icing and sparkly bits.
I swivel around looking for a fluffy white cloud to use as a backdrop. After a week of overcast and gloomy weather I’ve yearned for bright skies to take some cheerful shots, never dreaming I’d be photographing something the same color as the wild blue yonder.
We’ve gone off the beaten path and found our way to one of Bratislava’s hidden gems tucked away in a quiet neighborhood – the Church of St. Elizabeth. Fondly known as the “Blue Church,” it appears to have been sculpted in fondant for the most elegant of wedding cakes.
Formed in undulating concrete and plaster, painted many shades of blue, adorned with intricate tile mosaics, and topped with a blue-glazed roof, it’s a jaw-dropping vision. Designed by Budapest Architect Ödön Lechner (known as the Hungarian Gaudi) in the Hungarian Art Nouveau Style, it was consecrated in 1913.
The amazement continues on the interior. Blue prevails throughout. With a single nave and plenty of seating, this church is a wedding machine on weekends.
And if you want to see what it feels like to be inside the Blue Church, check out this wonderful 360 degree panorama for the full immersion. I think my favorite feature is the “lighted curio cabinet” confessional.
Lechner wasn’t finished. He also designed the beautifully restored Gymnázia Grösslingová (High School) next door in the same architectural style, with some fun, quirky details.
But no one wants to claim responsibility for the sad building directly across the street from the Blue Church. This abandoned Soviet hospital stands in stark contrast to the elegant Art Nouveau buildings.
As we’ve often seen in Post-Soviet Eastern Europe, it was typical for the Russian government to flex their muscles, particularly when it came to religious institutions.
In 1936 the Soviets built this drab, boxy, concrete hospital, with idealized sculptures depicting Soviet workers, facing the entry to this beautiful church. In was truly an “in your face” reminder of who held the power.
However, the Blue Church has prevailed, and just celebrated its 100th anniversary. Many people believe that blue is the color to ward off evil spirits. I guess it worked!