Medieval fortification system of Bardejov is the most preserved town fortification system in Slovakia. It is also second to none in number of preserved bastions – nine of them are scattered around the town center. The biggest one of them is so called Thick Bastion (Hrubá bašta), which has enormous walls that are 3.5 meters thick. It was built in 15th Century as a cannon zwinger bastion (zwinger: an open area between two defensive walls). In 17th Century, so called Small Bastion (Malá bašta) was built next to its bigger brother and served as an ammunition storehouse. Both Thick and Small Bastion would together constitute the most efficient fortification element of the town.

In 18th Century, after losing its defensive character, the Thick Bastion would be used for various purposes related to ordinary town life. In the middle of 20th Century, the place burned down, and after reconstruction in fifties and sixties has acquired its current appearance. Later on, the bastion has served as a food and electric material storehouse. In nineties, the bastion hosted some events focused on alternative electronic music for a short period of time but from then on, this precious monument has remained abandoned and unused.

A new chapter in bastion’s life started in 2012 when it was handed over to a civic association (CA) Different, which is focused on cultural and public interest activities. Different has come up with an idea of turning bastion into cultural community center and thus bring this monument back to life.

Different has decided to revive both the bastion and its environment, so that it would be suitable or relaxation, culture, education, or other leisure activities. A former medieval landmark therefore inevitably turns into center of contemporary culture and community life in Bardejov. Day by day, this place offers more music, movies, theatre performances, fine arts, dance, or literature, but also various handicrafts, workshops, presentations, fairs, discussions, and other different activities.

Not only most of events in bastion represent an alternative to mainstream, but they also use very informal and open language towards the audience.

Some of the regular events in bastion are Jarmočné baštovanie festival, Kino Kameň cinema, Jeden svet film festival, or Forever Megashit Fest organized by CA Different. There are also expositions of Duke studio handicrafts, or some events organized by CA Kandelaber like Ružový Bicykel, Reflektor, or PechaKucha Night.

Step by step, the people of Bardejov get access to particular floors of bastion, which have been previously locked. That, of course, comes in hand with extending the variety of public events and other possible utilization of the medieval monument. However, it’s not only the interior that is being explored – the environment of bastion is also gradually turning into nice, alternative leisure area.

A project of Bašta cultural community center is really unique – not only in its demanding and serious scale, but also in its idea that revives forlorn medieval monument and turns it into cultural center, which is unlike any other in Slovakia or abroad.

Translated by:
Mgr. Tomáš Fedorko