Bratislava … and the Slovakia-Hungary-Austria ‘trojmedzie’ (tripoint): the exact geographical point that looks more like the middle of nowhere

Landlocked tripoints – the precise geographical point where three country borders meet – are a huge draw to those (like me) who love the novelty of standing in more than one country at the same time. As a result, these locations are often marked with a fancy monument, surrounded by a parade of national flags, and have at least one cafe nearby selling extortionately priced items of food not native to any of the countries that verge metres away from its counter.

The tripoint where Slovakia, Hungary and Austria meet however, appears to be the exception to the rule. The atmosphere around it is sombre and understated. The route to it is not straight forward, particularly on foot via Bratislava where one has to walk through a ditch for over a kilometre to get anywhere near it. There are no facilities around it, no bus route passing close to it, few signs and maps along the way to point enthusiasts towards it, and even less about the location online. With Bratislava being the only capital city in the world to claim to have a tripoint – the location is around nine kilometres from the city centre – it’s surprising Slovakia doesn’t make more of it as a tourist attraction. Even locals seeme unaware that the tripoint exists close to their doorstep. I asked a couple of people in the neighbouring border village of Čunovo where the tripoint was but they didn’t have a clue what I was talking about, and I don’t think it was because my four words of Slovakian were too poorly pronounced for them to understand.

And yet this tripoint is arguably far more interesting than most of its European counterparts. As well as being a novelty geographical point, it was also a frontier during the Cold War. The Iron Curtain was physically draped across the border here with miles upon miles of barbed wire marking out the heavily guarded boundary between Western and Communist Europe. On one side was Austria and the capitalist freedom of the West, on the other Socialist Hungary and Czecho-Slovakia with close ties and alligences to the Soviet Union. During that time many tried to escape the Communist-leaning regimes by attempting to cross into Austria from here, but not all were successful and many paid with their lives.

Today (2017), all but one post from the barbed wire fencing remains here as a memorial. All three countries are now part of the European Union, and to mark the union and the freedoms these countries now share, the area has been turned into a sculpture park; twelve original pieces of work created by international artists stand around the tripoint, symbolically comprising of triangular shapes and three-way conversion points.

But, with the Cold War and Communist regimes becoming a distant memory for Austria and Slovakia, Hungary has controversially resorted back to this harsh frontier approach, this time to prevent people getting into the country rather than trying to escape out of it. In response to today’s (2017) major Syrian crisis and mass Middle-East migration to Europe, Hungary has recently erected millions of Euros worth of fencing and guard posts along its southern border with non-EU Serbia to control the number of migrants trying to enter the EU via Hungary.

As is evident from the accompanying photos and video, it was so bitterly cold when I attempted the journey to the tripoint that my ipad stopped working – I was using its GPS facility – my camera quickly drained of power and my flask of tea went cold as soon as I poured a cup out of it. Yet, under such adverse weather conditions, I still made it and skipping around the tripoint and crossing three countries in less than thirty seconds was made all the more enjoyable as a result, even though I could hardly feel my toes whilst doing so. Afterwards however, I wondered whether I would be able to enjoy the novelties of tripoints so freely in the future. With the rise of extreme right wing politics spreading across mainland Europe in recent years, threatening the existence of the European Union itself  – will Geert Wilders win in the Netherlands’ general election next month (March 2017), or Marine Le Pen during the French elections later this year (2017)? – will there come a time in the not too distant future when barbed wire and guard posts will return to other European borders, and even around tripoints like this one?

Useful information

If you wish to attempt to reach the Austrian-Slovakian-Hungarian tripoint via public transport, first choose a day when the temperature is at least above freezing and not -15C which is how cold it was the day I madly attempted the journey, as my short video here illustrates.


There are two regular bus routes from Bratislava – route 90 and route 91 – that pass within one-and-a-half to two kilometres from the tripoint. Both routes will take around twenty-five minutes to go from the city centre to within walking distance of the Hungarian border. Although route 91 stops further away, it is more frequent with three buses an hour, and is easier to catch from Bratislava starting and terminating at the bus station underneath the city’s iconic UFO bridge near the Old Town. The bus terminates in the pretty village of Čunovo. Try to alight at the last-but-two stop along the route – ‘MiÚ Čunovo’ – as this is located at the top of the road called ‘Schengenská’ which is the start of your journey by foot and leads directly to the Hungarian border. Walk the full length of this road. At the cross roads half way along is where the hourly bus route 90 stops before carrying on away from the tripoint and towards the Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum east of Čunovo.

Where the (route 91) bus ride ends and the journey on foot begins: alight at MiÚ Čunovo, cross the road…

…and walk the full length of Schengenská to reach the Slovakian-Hungarian border

At the cross roads (which is also where one should alight if on bus route 90), carry on straight past the Lanove Centrum Action Park (further down on the left, the unmissable sign for it is on the right hand corner here)…

…which leads to Bratislava’s city limits and the Slovakian border…

..and into Hungary. The EU sign here is actually not in the right place. The Slovakian-Hungarian state border runs along the path between the gap in the bushes, between the EU sign and the highway sign here, so technically the EU sign should be further back

There is a walkable track that runs alongside the ditch and starts behind the Hungarian highway sign in the background here. However, the track is on private land and it is much more of a novelty to walk right on top of the state line along the ditch even if it does mean picking through pot holes and boggy patches.
The smaller sign closest in shot here is the only one you are likely to come across along the whole journey pointing to the tripoint or ‘Trojmedzie’

Walking up the little path and into open countryside, don’t be surprised if you feel you are going in the wrong direction considering you will be walking across a manure-covered ditch between two privately owned fields, the one on the left being in Hungary, the one on the right with the slightly less overcast weather being in Slovakia

Persevere. The ditch is the official state border line between Hungary and Slovakia, as this Slovakian sign confirms. You do have the right to walk along it (as long as you are not seeking EU asylum). Stepping into the fields on either side of it without permission however, is technically trespassing

The end of the ditch leads out onto route 150 if looking left into Hungary, or route 2 if looking right into Slovakia and back towards Bratislava. The old checkpoint along it was first used by Socialist border guards and more recently by border control officials before Slovakia and Hungary both joined the EU in 2004. Now it stands here abandoned and rusting away

Cross the road and the rail track that runs alongside it carefully, and carry on west towards the European highway a few hundred metres further on

Luckily, there is a bridge (in Hungary) over the superhighway to safely walk across. The Hungarian-Slovakian border runs alongside the bridge and is marked out across the superhighway below by the change in the colour of the road surface (grey is Hungary, biege is Slovakia). It can be seen from the bridge

Across the bridge and down the slip road reveals (depending on the weather) the first sign of the international sculpture park surrounding the tripoint (in the distance on the left)

It also reveals the first map of the area for some time. There were two maps along Schengenská showing the area in and around Bratislava but unfortunately, neither featured Čunovo nor the tripoint nor indicated exactly where ‘here’ was

Sadly, this map doesn’t shed much light on the tripoint location either. It is actually a poster explaining the possibility of spotting bustards in the area. Admittedly, when I first saw the title of the poster, I thought the locals were being very un-welcoming to English-speaking visitors

It is the track here not the road running beside it, that marks the state border between Hungary (on the left) and Slovakia (on the right) along this final stretch. Carry on down either to reach the tripoint and Austria (far left)

After over an hour walking through snow covered fields, ditches, highways and tracks, I finally made it. One of the first pieces from the sculpture park to greet me was this huge symbolic work by Juraj Cutek

Below are all the other sculptures surrounding the tripoint (click on each one individually to see the image full size):

There were a few other pieces of stone lying nearby that left me wondering whether they were part of the sculptures on display, whether they were works of art in their own right, or just agricultural markers. For example…

…this stone elephant’s foot

…this table appearing to segregate the men from the women going by the symbols on it?

…and this piece which looked artistic and symbolic but wasn’t mentioned in the sign nearby listing all the pieces in the collection

Admittedly, the obelisk marking the tripoint itself is the least visually appealing piece of stonework in the collection, although it does show appealing evidence of its political past.

The obelisk marking the precise geographical point where Slovakia, Hungary and Austria verge. Next to it on the left is a surviving post from the barbed wire fencing that ran the length of the Austrian border here between the 1960s and 1980s separating Western and Communist Europe

The blue lion plaque on the Slovakian side of the obelisk is from the Czech coat of arms reminiscent of the time when this side of the stone was Czecho-Slovakia. The person who placed it here must wish the Czech Republic and Slovakia to exist as one country again as clearly it was placed here after the two states broke away from each other and the country of ‘Slovenska’ was represented with the letter ‘S’ on the stone

The letters on the obelisk represent the name of the country in their own native language. I took this photo with one foot in Austria or ‘Österreich’ and the other foot in Hungary better known locally as ‘Magyarorszag’

Hungary and Slovakia from what was once Eastern/Communist Europe

The closest ‘corner’ from this three piece sculpture’ by Mijsbergh Antonius is in Hungary. The one further away is in Austria. One would assume then that the third corner was in Slovakia, but sadly it is not. It too is geographically found in Austria

Here is a map detailing the journey from Čunovo to the tripoint (zoom in for more details).



Bratislava … wobbly bridges and inverted pyramids

The Drielandenpunt in the Netherlands, or Trois-Frontières if leaning a bit more to the right into Belgium, or the Dreiländereck if making four steps left into Germany. The tripoint close to the Dutch town of Vaals.

Baarle: the unique town full of Dutch-Belgian borders but is not a Dutch-Belgian border town. Confused?

This entry was posted in Borders, Territories & Tripoints, Slovakia, Bratislava. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Bratislava … and the Slovakia-Hungary-Austria ‘trojmedzie’ (tripoint): the exact geographical point that looks more like the middle of nowhere

  1. Katy says:

    Thanks to your perfect, detailed directions, I was able to make my way there by myself easily! Hats off to you for braving the cold in order to make the trip!

  2. Anne Guy says:

    You are a very intrepid lady travels!

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