BRATISLAVA, CROSSROADS OF HISTORY, CULTURE AND EXPERIENCES
Located on the Danube river, Bratislava is the capital of the Slovak Republic, EU member since 2004 and part of the Euro Zone and the Schengen Agreement. It has about 325.000 inhabitants.
The «little big city » is the only European capital lying at the border of two other EU members: Austria and Hungary. Vienna airport is only 65 km and a 40-min drive away from the city centre.
Visit Bratislava – it is a great city.
Bratislava is enjoying a tourist boom: 1.2 million tourists visited in 2016, a 15 % increase from the previous year and expected to grow in 2017. As recognition of this performance, it was awarded on June 1 the prestigious GOLDEN APPLE, equivalent to the OSCAR of Tourism, by the World Federation of Travel Journalists and Writers (FIJET).
The first inhabitants settled in the younger Stone Age and it became a Celtic Oppidum in the first century B.C. to be incorporated later in the southern parts of the Roman Empire.
In the 9th century, it became part of the Great Moravian Empire and in 1526 came under the rule of the Kingdom of Hungary.
Coronations of Hungarian Kings and Queens took place in the city between 1563 and 1830.
Then known as PRESSBURG, it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the end of World War II.
On January 1, 1993, Slovakia became an independent country, breaking away from then Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic).
Main sights in a nutshell
Combining history and modern infrastructures, Bratislava has a vibrating city centre where multiple cultural events are organised throughout the year:
- Main Square ( Hlavné Namestie) featuring the Old Town Hall, Green House, Apponyi Palace, French Embassy, Jesuit Church, Maxim (Roland) fountain and the statue of a Napoleonic soldier
- Franciscan Square with the Franciscan Church, Oriel House, Mirbach Palace, Column of the Lady of Victory and Black Raven House
- Two interesting statues can be found on some side streets: the Gaper or Rubberneck representing the head of a worker peeping out from a manhole cover, and Schöne Naci, a local eccentric famous in the first half of the 19th century for his elegant attire
- Primate’s Square with the eponymous Palace with stunning rooms lined with rich tapestries and a chapel
- Venturska, Panska and Michalska streets are lined with numerous buildings of interest such as the Csahy, Keglevich and Palffy Palaces, the Hungarian Royal Chamber and the old Red Crayfish Pharmacy (museum). Michalska street leads to the towering 51-meter Michael’s Gate materialising the border between the medieval and modern towns. Passing the gate stands the Trinity Church.
- The Barbican and city moat, the Clarissian Church
- St Martin’s Cathedral with its gleaming 85-meter spire topped with a golden crown. It was the coronation place of 10 kings, one queen (Maria Theresa) and 8 royal spouses. Near the cathedral, one can view the best-preserved parts of the city walls and fortifications
Hviezdoslav Square, named after the eponymous poet and playwright with his statue in the middle of the promenade. Not to be missed, the neo-Renaissance National Theatre (1886) with the neo-Baroque fountain of Ganymede in front, Notre Dame Church and Monastery.
The Reduta housing the Slovak Philharmonic, Carlton Hotel, Kern House, Cosmo, Palffy and Nester Palaces. Going towards the Danube, there is the statue of Hans Christian Andersen and the Plague Column at the end of the Promenade.
Before climbing the hill, do not miss the yellow corner house of the Good Shepherd. The entrance to the castle area is through the Vienna Gate. The Royal Palace, a symbol of Bratislava, underwent a last and final restoration in the past few years. After visiting the castle, go to the gardens affording breathtaking views over the whole city and the Danube. Exit through Sigismund Gate.
On Castle Hill, you will also find the Parliament building (1986-1994), the Church of St Nicolas, the former Old Town House and a Water Tower.
Of interest: the St Elizabeth blue Church, Grassalkovich (Presidential) Palace and gardens, Episcopal Summer Palace, National and Slovak Radio buildings and, on a hilltop, Slavin, the biggest war memorial in central Europe built in 1957-60. The central pylon is 39.5 meters high and topped with a sculpture of the Triumphant Soldier holding a flag. 6845 soldiers are buried in the cemetery.
Main museums: the National Gallery, the Museum of Natural History and the Slovak National Museum.
Bridges over the Danube :
SNP (Slovak National Uprising) bridge (1967-72), 432 meters high, 7,537 tons, with a viewing platform and gastronomic UFO restaurant at the top. Apollo Bridge, the newest, built in 2005, 835 meters long, 5,240 tons
There is also a TV Tower overlooking the city with a revolving gastronomic restaurant at the top
A little out of town
On the way to the suburb of DEVIN, the Chatam Sofer Memorial. This Jewish cemetery was created in 1670 and used until 1847. It was moved in 1942, but still retains the graves of 23 leaders in an underground area. It is one of the foremost Jewish pilgrimage sites in the world, visited regularly by thousands of believers.
DEVIN is located at the confluence of the Danube and the Morava rivers. The Morava marks the border between Slovakia and Austria and constitutes the site of the former Iron Wall border. The Gate of Freedom monument commemorates this former barrier between east and west.Devin castle is an impressive three-level structure with the Lower, Middle and Higher castles.
Devin castle is an impressive three-level structure with the Lower, Middle and Higher castles.
Visit Bratislava – a major recommended destination for long weekends or an ideal starting point for visiting the other regions of beautiful Slovakia.