Main Attractions: he Bratislava castle (Bratislavský hrad), Jewish Synagogue Memorial Monument, the Reduta (Philharmonic concerts hall), the Blue Church (The Church of St. Elizabeth), Hodžovo námestie (square), Grasassalkovich Palace, Slavin Memorial site.
Duartion: 1 day.
Distance: 6-8 km.
Weather: ONLY bright and mild day. The climb to Slavin should be avoided in rainy or hot days. Take food and drinks for the visit in the Castle and the climb to Slavin and back (!). I recommend doing the climb to Slavin during late afternoon hours when the sun shines from the west and panoramic view of Bratislava (east and down to Slavic hill) is breathtaking.
The Bratislava castle (Bratislavský hrad), a national cultural monument, is both a symbol and a dominant feature of the city.
History: The first traces of a settlement here originate from the end of the late stone age and relics from the times of the Roman Empire to the Great Moravian Empire can be found here as well.Its first known inhabitants were the Celts, who founded a fortified settlement here called ‘Oppidum’. The first reference of Bratislava or its castle appears in the Annals of Salzburg of 907, in association with a battle between Bavarians and Hungarians. For four centuries, the border of the Roman Empire, the ‘Limes Romanus’, ran through the area. During the Great Moravian Empire, Slavs built a fortress that became a significant centre for the time. In the 10th century, Bratislava became an integral part of the growing Hungarian state; a stone palace and the church of St Saviour and its chapter were built on the castle hill in the 11th century. In the 15th century, in the reign of Sigismund of Luxembourg, a castle was built in Gothic style as an anti-Hussite fortress. During this period, a new entrance to the castle was built on the eastern side – Sigismund's Gate – while 7-metre-thick fortifications were constructed on the western side, and a castle well dug in 1437. The castle has undergone Gothic and Renaissance reconstructions. Following the battle at Mohač in 1526, when the Turks defeated Hungarian armies, the castle became the seat of the Habsburg Emperor Ferdinand I. King Ferdinand ordered the rebuilding of the castle in the Renaissance style, while in the 17th century, when the castle became the seat of hereditary provincial chief, Pálffy, it was rebuilt in the baroque style. The most significant alterations were made during the reign of Marie Theresa (1740 – 1780). In the reign of Maria Theresa, the castle was arranged according to the needs of her son-in-law Albert, governor of Saxony and Tessen, who was an avid art collector and who installed his works in the castle. This collection was later moved to Vienna to become the present-day Albertina Gallery. Many legends are connected with the history of the castle. Legend has it, that when Empress Marie Theresa learned of the conspiracies of the nobles who did not want to be governed by a woman, she invited them to the castle and organized a banquet, at which witches turned them into stone. The stones were thrown into the castle well and thus hid forever the secret passages which led out from the castle. In 1802 the castle was assigned to the military as barracks. This was the beginning of the end of the castle. The rococo interiors of the castle were adapted in order to house some 1500 soldiers. In 1809, the Pressburg and the castle was bombarded by cannons by Napoleon's troops. On 28 May 1811, the castle burst into huge flames due to carelessness of garrison soldiers. The fire even spread into parts of the town. The castle stayed in ruins for 150 years. The destroyed castle gradually deteriorated. The military sold parts of the main castle buildings as construction materials in the surrounding areas. Between the two world wars, attempts were made to demolish the castle to build government offices and a university district on the castle hill and in its surroundings in the first Czechoslovak Republic and in the first Slovak Republic. Many parts of the site however continued to be used as barracks and adapted accordingly till 1946. In 1946, the ruin was opened to the public. Two years later, the town constructed an amphitheater in the northern part of the castle site. The amphitheater was in use for some 15 years. Films were shown there in the summer. A reconstruction of the castle had to wait until after World War II. Finally it was decided to restore the castle and archaeological and architectural research started in 1953 and long restoration works began in 1957. The Slovak painter Janko Alexy gained recognition for the restoration of the castle. The finishing of the restoration in 1968 was interrupted in August 1968, when the castle was occupied by Warsaw Pact troops. On 28 October 1968, however, the Federation Law, turning the centralist state of Czechoslovakia into a federation of a Czech Socialist Republic (later called Czech Republic) and a Slovak Socialist Republic (later called Slovak Republic), was signed in the Federation Hall of the castle. On 3 September 1992, the new constitution of independent Slovakia was signed in the Knights Hall of the castle. Since 1968, the castle has been housing exhibitions of the Slovak National Museum and at the same time its rooms have been used by the National Council of the Slovak Republic (today the National Council of the Slovak Republic) for presentation purposes. In 1992, the castle housed a branch-office of the Czechoslovak president temporarily and later in the 1990s the Slovak president temporarily. It still houses the museum and the presentation rooms for the National Council of the Slovak Republic and for the president. A new restoration has been planned for years, because since 1968 only minor adaptations have been performed. The last minor adaptations occurred on the occasion of the Bush-Putin Bratislava summit in February 2005. A massive reconstruction was started in 2008. On June 6, 2010 the reconstruction of the Honorary Courtyard of Bratislava Castle was completed with a large nationally televised unveiling ceremony of an equestrian statue of King Svätopluk I by Slovak sculptor Ján Kulich.
Exterior: The massive rectangular building with four corner towers stands on an isolated rocky hill of the Little Carpathians directly above the Danube river in the middle of Bratislava. The location provides excellent views of Bratislava, Austria and, in clear weather, parts of Hungary. The majestic impression is enhanced by the hill it stands on, some eighty-five metres above the water level of the Danube river. Because of its size and location, it has been a dominant feature of the city for centuries. Today, parts of the premises of the castle serve for representative purposes of the Slovak National Council. The castle complex also houses exhibitions of the Slovak National Museum.
... leading to Leopold Yard with bastions, constructed in the 17th century:
Interior: there is an interesting exhibition on WW1. Hopefully, it will be open during 2015-2016. The most interesting exhibitions, and in my opinion the absolutely most beautiful, are in this main building called The Castle Gallery.
My personal impressions: The stairs are magnificent. Get the red carpet experience going up the marble stairwell and admire the huge gilt mirrors on the walls.
The castle worth a visit if only for the views. From the top of the bell tower you have a stunning 360º view of old Bratislava, new Bratislava and the Danube river and the new UFO bridge. The views from the castle's courtyard are wonderful as well. The castle seems to have been painted recently and does not look historic... The interior's expositions are less rich than similar ones in other European historical castles - Bratislava Castle is sparsely decorated !
Note: lots of steps up to the castle (if you come from the front direction but worth it ! If you come from the back - you avoid most of the steps.
There is a lot of renovation going on around the castle grounds - but this does not distract from the beauty or history of the place.
Opening hours: 1. April - 16. November - TUE - SUN: 10.00 - 18.00, 17 NOV - 31 MAR - TUE - SUN: 9.00 - 17.00. Prices: Adults: 7 €
Reduced admission fee: 4 €. If you want to take photos you need to pay another €2 for your camera. However the very best thing about the castle is free and that is the grounds which you can roam (approx. 1-1.5 hours) as you please and take in the great views over the Danube and the old town. Duration: browsing around the grounds, visiting all the galleries, climbing the bell tower - will take you about 3 hours. The formal gardens are still under construction. Be sure to set aside a few hours and tour this jewel of Bratislava! Weather: choose ONLY mild, bright day for the castle. Public transportation: If you prefer to use the public transport, get on the trolley bus number 203 or 207 (best from Hodžovo namestie – in front of the Grassalkovich Palace) and get off at the Zámocká stop. You will find yourself directly in front of the Castle. Refreshments: there is a nice cafe for refreshment inside the castle (upper floor).
If you take my advice and choose to walk, don’t use the main street which goes along the trolley bus line. You will have a better experience walking through narrow old hidden streets of the Old Town. The walk is interesting with good views and cobble stone walkways.
For example - try this itinerary from Hodžovo namestie (1.5 km walk): Head northeast on Hodžovo námestie, 120 m. Sharp left toward Banskobystrická, 35 m. Turn right onto Banskobystrická, 15 m. Turn left toward Štefánikova, 55 m. Turn right toward Štefánikova, 100 m. Turn left onto Štefánikova, 20 m. Turn right onto Palisády, 15 m. Turn left toward Panenská, 60 m. Turn right onto Panenská, 350 m (nice buildings on your left). Continue onto Podjavorinskej, take the stairs, 270 m. Turn left onto Škarniclova, 15 m. Pálffyho palác, Zámocká 47 is opposite (see "Bratislava Old Town (Starý Mesto) Centre Walk 1" blog). Turn right onto Zámocká, 280 m. Continue onto Palisády, 85 m. Turn left at Námestie Alexandra Dubčeka, 25 m.You can see, here, the Ministry of Culture premises:
Slight right onto Vodný vrch and castle is on the left.
OR go to Hviezdoslav square and on the other end was the Bridge. It has an underpass, which you pass and there on your left as the road leading up to the Bratislava castle. From here the walk is uphill for about 10-12 minutes till you reach the castle entrance. Hike on foot (10-15 minutes walk). Don't use taxis - their drivers are hiking the the prices.
Tips: the castle is an ideal place for walks. Spend time to explore its beautiful surroundings and views. Bring food for half a day. The best time to take photos from the castle is thje morning or the evening - NOT during the midday (since the Danube river is south to the castle). The best spot and time to take photos of the castle are - from the river, or from the SNP Most (bridge) in the morning or late afternoon hours:
The castle itself shuts at 18.00 The castle is lit up at night, so you can also get some good night shots. When the afternoon turns to night, go up the UFO lookout on the SNP Most (bridge) or UFO Observation Deck. From there, you can have a clear view of the castle, and get fabulous shots of the castle on the hill in front of the Danube river:
Photos of the views from the Castle:
View to St. Martin Cathedral:
The Castle grounds / courtyard. The yard/court of Honor is the space directly before the castle entrance dates from the late 18th century:
Equestrian statue of King Svatopluk I at the Court/Yard of Honour since 2010:
Monument of Saint Elizabeth (Sisi) of Hungary in the garden of Bratislava Castle:
We leave the Bratislava Castle - heading back to St. Martin cathedral ("Bratislava Old Town (Starý Mesto) Centre Walk 1" blog). You can choose the shorter, southern roue via Vodný vrch and Zámocké schody (650 m.) OR via Zámocká (1.1 km.).
The shorter, southern way: from the castle head south on Vodný vrch, 85 m. Slight left toward Zámocké schody, 130 m. Turn right toward Zámocké schody, 130 m. Slight left onto Zámocké schody, take the stairs, 230 m. Turn left onto Rudnayovo námestie (The square is named after the Slovak Cardinal Alexander Rudnaya), 90 m. It is a beautiful cobbled-stone square.
Turn right to stay on Rudnayovo námestie and the St. Martin's Cathedral will be on your right. You pass (again) through the the Jewish Synagogue Memorial Monument (see "Bratislava Old Town (Starý Mesto) Centre Walk 1" blog). It is located on the site of the former Neolog Synagogue demolished in 1967. The Memorial was erected in 1996 by the Slovak Republic to commemorate the memory of 105,000 Holocaust victims from Slovakia. The location was not selected accidentally. The Holocaust memorial is for the memory of the tragic event and the memory of the former Rybné Square synagogue, still remembered by many Bratislavians, and which can be often found on historical photos hanging in Bratislava cafés. The memorial consists of the black wall with silhouette of the destroyed synagogue and the central sculpture with non-figurative motif and a David Shield (Magen David) on the top, placed on the black granite platform with “Zachor” (Remember) inscriptions.
From Rudnayovo námestie and St. Martin's Cathedral we head to the Reduata building - 700 or 750 m. walk. Head east on Rudnayovo námestie toward Kapitulská, 110 m.
See on your right the Van Gogh murals. It is a run-down building opposite the Cathedral which was adorned with reproductions of Van Gogh paintings where windows were existing in the past:
Turn left toward Panská, 40 m. Turn left onto Panská, 85 m. Salvator Pharmacy is on your left (see "Bratislava Old Town (Starý Mesto) Centre Walk 1" blog). Turn right onto Strakova, 90 m. Turn left toward Hviezdoslavovo námestie (see "Bratislava Old Town (Starý Mesto) Centre Walk 1" blog), 190 m. Turn right onto Hviezdoslavovo námestie, 25 m. Turn right onto Jesenského, 20 m. Turn left onto Mostová, 150 m.
Turn left onto Námestie Ľudovíta Štúra (see "Bratislava Old Town (Starý Mesto) Centre Walk 1" blog), 18 m. Continue onto Medená and the Reduta building, Medená 100/3, is on your left:
The seat of the Slovak Philharmonic. The building also houses a book and music store, a restaurant, and a casino. It is located in between Hviezdoslavovo Square and Ludovit Stur Square, one minute walk from the Danube River. The entry fee varies by performance , but the Reduta is popular with Austrian music lovers because of the high quality of performance despite the fact that ticket prices are significantly less expensive than across the border in Vienna. The Reduta was built in 1919 on a site formerly occupied by a granary. The construction started in early 1913, but took long because of the First World War. It used to host local festivals, feasts, and other prominent local events. For some time it even housed a cinema.
The monument at Namestie L Stura. To the right is the Reduta (Philharmonic concert hall):
We head, now from the Reduta to the The Blue Church (St. Elizabeth Church). Again, there are two routes: via Medená and Dobrovičova: 750 m., or via Dobrovičova: 850 m.
via Medená and Dobrovičova: head east on Medená toward Kúpeľná,
230 m. Turn right onto Tobrucká, 110 m. Slight left onto Dobrovičova
290 m. Turn left onto Bezručova, 100 m. (Dexia Šafárikovo námestie on your right - see photo below). Turn left onto Bezručova, 100 m. The Blue Church, Bezručova, 811 is on the left.
via Dobrovičova: head east on Medená toward Kúpeľná, 150 m. Turn right onto Kúpeľná, 90 m. Turn left onto Vajanského nábrežie, 160 m. Turn left onto Muzejná, 75 m (shady lane). Turn right onto Dobrovičova, 290 m. (Dexia Šafárikovo námestie on your right):
Turn left onto Bezručova, 100 m. The Blue Church, Bezručova, 811 is on the left.
The Church of St. Elizabeth (Kostol svätej Alžbety) is known as the Blue Church (Modrý kostolík). It is built in Art Nouveau (Jugendstil) style. The church consecrated to Elisabeth of Hungary, daughter of Andrew II, who grew up in the Pressburg Castle (pozsonyi vár). The name "The Little Blue Church" stems from the color of its façade, mosaics and blue-glazed roof. It was initially part of the neighboring gymnázium (high school) and served as the school chapel.
The Blue Church Exterior:
The church was designed by the famous Hungarian architect Ödön Lechner (see Tipter Budepest blogs). It was built in 1907-1908, four years after the plans of Ödön Lechner. The so-called Hungarian secessionist style (The Hungarian Art Nouveau) is very dominant in the church. Lechner also drew the plans of the neighboring gymnázium (high school) and of the vicarage (also in the Hungarian Secessionist style). The façade was at first painted with light pastel colors. Later the church got its characteristic blue colour. A line of blue tiles and wave-strip encircles the church. The roof is covered with glazed decorative bricks. The main and side entrances are enclosed with Romanesque double-pillars, which have an Oriental feeling. Pillars are also located near the windows. A model of the church is in Mini-Europe in Brussels, representing Slovakia:
The Blue Church Interior:
The interior is richly decorated with altarpieces. On the altar there is an illustration of St Elizabeth, depicted giving donations to the poor:
From the Blue Church - we head to Hodžovo námestie (square) and to the Slovakian Presidential Palace (Grasassalkvich Palace). It is a 1.4 km. walk. Head north on Bezručova toward Gajova, 95 m. Turn left onto Grösslingová, 280 m. Note the facade of the building at #21-23. Today, Grösslingova Street is a residence of some important institutions such as: the Slovak Committee for UNICEF ; Development program of the UN UNDP , Slovak Red Cross , Slovak Matica Slovak Historical Institute ; Mathematical Gymnasium (Gamča) ; Primary school of Milan ; The Association of Slovak Cinematographers; Slovak Film Union; Association of Slovak Film Clubs. Turn right onto Štúrova, 120 m. Take the crosswalk
92 m. Tesco superstore is on your right. Turn left onto Námestie SNP (Námestie Slovenského národného povstania) (Slovak National Uprising of 1944, for which the Square is named), 190 m. Slight right to stay on Námestie SNP, 85 m. One of the biggest squares in the city. A venue for many concerts or public protests. It was the epicentre of the Velvet Revolution protests in Bratislava in 1989 - against the Soviet regime. There are statues in memory of the Slovak National Uprising of 1944:
Continue onto Poštová (Mailing Street), 210 m. Take the pedestrian tunnel (subway), 180 m. Crowne Plaza Hotel - on your left.
Turn right onto Banskobystrická, 15 m. Hodžovo námestie and the Presidential Palce on your left. Hodžovo Square, (locally referred to as Hodžko or Mierko) is a major square in Bratislava. The square is located at the northern edge of Old Town. The central fountain of the square called Earth — planet of peace is serving as one of the most common meeting points in the city. If using a tram, the closest stop is called Poštová.
Hodžovo namestie towards Michaels Gate:
A building in the square decorated by "stamps" reliefs:
There is a vehicle underpass under this square as well as an underpass for pedestrians with shops and fast-food built in the 1970s (renovated sometime in the 21st century). Hodžovo Square serves as an important public transport hub in the city. At the beginning of the 21st century new construction dramatically changed the look of this historical square. The whole area around the trolleybus stop, next to the extension over the pedestrian underpass mouth towards Poštová Street was fenced and access was prohibited to the public since mid-2010. The construction of the Tatracentrum building (see below) changed the square dramatically and it dominates the Hodžovo Square.
Grasassalkovich Palace (the president's palace):
The Grassalkovich Palace is the residence of the president of Slovakia. It is situated on Hodžovo námestie, near the Summer Archbishop’s Palace. The building is a Rococo and late Baroque summer palace with a French garden. It features many beautiful rooms and an impressive staircase. It was built in 1760 for Count Antal Grassalkovich, a Hungarian noble serving as the head of the Hungarian Chamber (a sort of ministry of economy and finance for the Kingdom of Hungary), by the architect Anton Mayerhofer. The building became a center of Baroque musical life in Pozsony (Pressburg) and an important part of social life in the city as well. During the 1939–1945 period, the palace was the seat of the clero-fascist president of the First Slovak Republic Jozef Tiso. During the Communist era, it was first (after 1945) the seat of the Council of Commissioners, then in 1950, the building was turned into the "Klement Gottwald House of Pioneers and Youth" (Dom pionierov a mládeže Klementa Gottwalda), which was an activity center for Bratislava's schoolchildren called pioneers at that time. The schoolchildren caused extensive damage to the palace, and the necessary restoration only became possible following the transition from Communism in late 1989 with the Velvet Revolution. After its reconstruction in the early 1990s, on 30 September 1996 the palace became the residence of Slovakia's president. Nowadays the palace is guarded by the Honor guard of president, similar to the well-known Queen’s Guard in London. It is not open for the public, only during the special events. Its once-large gardens are now a public park. In the French-style garden stands a statue of Bratislava-born composer Jan Nepomuk Hummel (see Hummel Museum in "Bratislava Old Town (Starý Mesto) Centre Walk 1" blog). A copy of an Empress Maria Theresa statue stands here and a fountain called "Youth" has been built here. The garden is a great place for summer activities, walks and relax. Many outdoor events take place here. Many famous politicians planted trees here as a sign of friendship and cooperation with Slovakia. Opening hours JAN – MAR 10.00 – 19.00, APR - MAY 10.00 – 20.00, JUN – SEP 8.00 – 22.00, OCT – DEC 10.00 – 19.00:
This sculpture of 3 women is situated in the park behind Grassalkovich Palace:
Tatracentrum Shopping Centre: Opening hours: MON - SAT 07.00 - 22.00, SUN 08.00 - 20.00. The floors are interconnected by escalators. Air conditioning and music in the passageway, both, in winter and summer. Project by Ľubomír Závodný, Matej Siebert, Radomil Kachlík, Peter Vavrica in 1999-2001. Construction started in November 1999 and finished in December 2001. The building has 8 floors above ground. The Tatracentrum building serves as the headquarters of Slovak bank Tatra banka. The ground floor includes a small shopping gallery and a supermarket, the first underground floor features cafes and restaurants. After its construction, the building is considered to have changed the square drastically. Even years after its construction, when all of the space around the square has been used, the Tatracentrum building dominates the Hodžovo Square. The structure's aesthetics is also considered unpleasant and unsuited for its location in the historical center of Bratislava. Consequently, the building is hated by many inhabitants of the Slovak capital. Upper floors of the building offer unique views of the square, but except for the ground floor and underground floors, the building is inaccessible to the public.
Astoria Palace - endless story of repairs: Astoria Palace has 7 floors above ground and it includes mostly administrative (office) space, its main tenant being Ernst & Young. In place of the building, there was formerly the square itself, meaning mostly empty space consisting of a busy bus stop. It includes a public pedestrian path on the ground floor connecting Palisády Street with Panenská Street with Staromestská Street and it also contains a heavily-used public transport bus stop and entrance into the pedestrian underpass below Hodžovo Square. The structure was planned since 1993 and its construction was delayed several times. The building had to include the entrance to the underpass under the square and coincide with its renovation. The building's investor was I.P.R. Slovakia, a Slovak-Cypriot company. Construction started in October 2004, when traffic restrictions took place in the form of blocking the rightmost driving lane at the square (coming from Štefánikova Street), blocking the major busy street for an astonishing 3 years, until August 2007. The building was completed in 2008, but without finishing the pedestrian underpass. Reconstruction of the underpass was carried out by the Astoria Passage company, a sister company of the Astoria Palace building investor, to which the underpass was rented out for 10 years. After the long delayed opening of the underpass, it was found out that the escalator was making loud noises. Moreover, the underpass remained much the same as when built under socialist realism, with one exception being a significant reduction of space to make more room for small shops. This also meant that there was still no escalator leading to the Presidential Palace and the whole underpass remained off limits to the handicapped, although special platform elevators for the handicapped have later been installed in November 2009. In the upper part of the space, there was the entrance to the pedestrian underpass and air conditioning vents blowing hot air in the winter, allowing for people to get some warmth when waiting for their evening or night buses. The area also contained benches to sit while waiting for the bus and constituted a logical ending of the square from its side. Because of this structure, the bus stop shrunk several times and it is now prone to draft, as cold wind sometimes blows through the narrow passages of the Astoria Palace ground floor...
Hotel Crowne Plaza (formerly Hotel Forum): This post-modern hotel building was finished in 1989. The project is by Julián Hauskrecht and others (Boris Džadoň, Štefan Ďurkovič, Juraj Herman, Dušan Krepop, Ján Poláček, Pavol Suchánek) with additional input into the interior design by Alain Marcot and Slobodanka Dragovičová. The building is U shaped, its main entrance is situated towards the Hodžovo square, the hotel parter is facing Poštová Street and a small square (forum) is facing Obchodná Street. In 2004, the building was sold by the Slovak republic to the Dutch company Myria Assets. Today, the hotel is called Crowne Plaza:
View of the "Forum", the inner court of the hotel:
We head, now, to a very moving site - but one of the lesser-seen by the foreign tourists - Slavín War Memorial. It is quite a demanding 1.7 km. walk - most of it is climbing up. BUT, it is a very nice walk along gorgeous houses and handsome roads. You'll see quite a lot of embassiess along your climb and way back down. In the late afternoon hours the sun shines from the west - and you'll get a nice view of the city from the Slavín hill.Public transport: trolley bus number 203 or 207 from Hodžovo námestie (in front of the Grassalkovich Palace). A bus number 147 stops right under the stairs, which lead to the monument. It departs from the city center and takes around 10 minutes to get to the top. The stop is called "Slavín".
We'll walk up via via Mišíkova and Na Slavíne and return down back via Na Slavíne and Lermontova. Head northeast on Hodžovo námestie, 120 m. Sharp left toward Banskobystrická, 35 m. Turn right onto Banskobystrická, 15 m. Turn left toward Štefánikova, 53 m. Turn right toward Štefánikova, 100 m. Turn right onto Štefánikova, 60 m. Tatracentrum on your left.
Turn left onto Tolstého, 220 m (note the yellow building at #4). Continue straight onto Kuzmányho, 160 m. In Kuzmányho the climb is more demanding. Note the white buildings on your right (top spires). Turn left, still climbing, onto Vlčkova, 45 m. Turn right onto Donovalova (mild slope).
Take the stairs, 150 m. Turn right onto Mišíkova (nice villas all around), 230 m. Nice views of Bratislava near the end of Mišíkova, before you turn to Na Slavíne. Sharp left onto Na Slavíne, 350 m. Ooof, still climbing...
Sharp right onto Pažického, 50 m. Turn left to stay on Pažického, 150 m. Slavín War Memorial on the right. Slavín is a memorial monument and military cemetery. It is more visited - due to its commanding views. THe Slovak president and people show their honor to the fallen Soviet soldiers in 4 April (Bratislava liberation day). In 2005, Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, visited the grandiose monument during his meeting with G. W. Bush in Bratislava. The impressive site includes memorial monument and cemetery of soldiers of the Soviet Army who were killed in deliverance of Bratislava during the WW2. On top of the high pylon stands a sculpture of a soldier by A. Trizuljak. The memorial itself is favourably impressive. Standing at 40 metres high and with a 10 metres statue on top it seems to soar into sky above, its flag bravely trying to flutter in the breeze. The soldier represents a conqueror as he beats back the Nazis. But this also has a second meaning since after 1945 Slovakia, along with most of Eastern Europe, was held under Soviet domination by the same soldiers who had liberated them not so long before from the Nazis. The memorial – and Soviet liberation – carries mixed memories for Slovaks. There is genuine gratitude for the sacrifice of the Russians and other Soviet peoples who defeated the Nazis in 1945. But the Soviet-backed Communist Party takeover of Czechoslovakia in 1948, and the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, which unseated the popular Slovak leader Alexander Dubček, undermined its popular legacy. The bronze caisson door of the memorial auditorium is decorated with reliefs by R. Pribiš. There is also a cemetery with graves (6 mass graves, 278 individual graves) of 6,845 Soviet soldiers who fell while liberating Bratislava. The central solemn hall with various statues, inscriptions, and a symbolic sarcophagus made of white marble. There is also an obelisk topped with a statue of a Soviet soldier. On the outside walls are inscriptions of the dates of liberation of various places in Slovakia during years 1944–45. You'll see military bunkers and a small memorial grave for Alexander Dubchek. Slavin designer was Ján Svetlík. It was constructed between 1957 and 1960 on the site of a field cemetery, and opened in 1960. Note: no refreshments and no toilets around !
The view from the Bratislava Castle is as nothing in comparison to the sweeping vista across the city and beyond offered from Slavin. Visitors can circle the memorial for a full panorama or simply sit and gaze for hours into the firmament. The peace and tranquility work in excellent tandem with the sweeping landscape to produce one of the most serene impressions you can expect anywhere !
The walking way back from Slavín War Memorial to Hodžovo námestie (Bratislava Old Town Centre) is a bit longer but far easier : head west on Pažického, 150 m. Turn right to stay on Pažického, 50 m. Sharp left onto Na Slavíne, 350 m. Slight left onto Mišíkova, 90 m. Turn right to stay on Mišíkova, 35 m. Turn right onto Andreja Plávku, 110 m (most of the city views obscured by the houses' walls). Turn left toward Vlčkova, 50 m. Turn right onto Vlčkova, 55 m.
Keep left to continue on Lermontovova (partial restrictions), Less villas and more 3-4 storeys' buildings. Keep walking in Lermontova with your face to the south-east until its end. Turn right onto Štefánikova, 200 m
Turn left toward Banskobystrická, 100 m. Turn left at Podchod Hodžovo námestie, 55 m.
Bratislava Old Town - from the NEW Slovak National Theatre to Michael's Gate and Tower.
Attractions: Námestie (square) M. R. Štefánika, Eurovea centre and Promenade, New Slovak National Theater, Námestie Ľudovíta Štúra, Hviezdoslavovo námestie, The Historical Slovak National Theatre, Ganymede's Fountain, Rybné námestie (Fisheries square), Esterhazy palace (Esterházyho palác), National Gallery (Slovenská národná galéria), Michalská brána (Michael's Gate and Tower).
Start: Námestie M. R. Štefánika (square).
End: Námestie Ľudovíta Štúra (square) or Michael's Gate and Tower.
Distance: 5-6 km. Combine this route with the "Bratislava Old Town (Starý Mesto) Centre Walk 1" itinerary.
Duration: 1/2 day.
Connection with the "Bratislava Old Town (Starý Mesto) Centre Walk 1" itinerary: we ended our former route in the Zámočnícka ulica, 50 m. from Michalská brána (Michael's Gate and Tower). So, we start our connection in the Michalská brána (Michael's Arch) - Michalská road. This route ends, as well, in Michael's Arch.
Head north on Michalská toward Hurbanovo námestie, 30 m. Michalská turns right and becomes Hurbanovo námestie, 75 m. Take the crosswalk, 50 m. Continue onto Námestie SNP (youv'e, already, been here in the first walk...), 350 m. Turn right to stay on Námestie SNP, 80 m. Take the crosswalk, 400 m. Turn right onto Klemensova, 400 m. Continue onto Krupkova, 130 m. Turn left onto Pribinova, 250 m. Turn right to stay on Pribinova, and M. R. Štefánika square is on the right, 55 m.
Námestie (square) M. R. Štefánika or Námestie Milana Rastiaslava Štefánika is bordered on the north side of the new building of the Slovak National Theatre (see below),
on the western side Eurovea Galleria shopping center and five-star Sheraton Bratislava,
on the east side New shopping centers and apartments River places,
South side of the square is lined with the Danube waterside promenade.
MR Štefánika Square is actually part of the modern district Eurovea , which is located right on the bank of the Danube in the vicinity of the historical center of Bratislava. The name of the square was originally Theatre Square. Definitely pay a visit and check out the beautiful pedestrian walkway along the Danube river. Our direction is from the east to the west (heading, next, to the Hviezdoslavovo námestie) - so, on our way we walk along the promenade:
Most of the statues that Bratislava has become quite famous for can be found near the Main square (see the blog "Bratislava Old Town (Starý Mesto) Centre Walk 1"). But, there are also some private statues in front of and inside the Eurovea shopping center and promenade. Go there if you have some spare time to walk along the Danube and the long venue with restaurants and bars. Recommended !:
Sculptures by Colin Spofforth:
The number of fountains in Bratislava is comparable to the four times larger neighboring Austrian capital Vienna. A few of them are around the Štefánika Square and the Eurovea complexes. Very interesting is the fact, that shopping mall is also under the ground and the main fountain is built on it's transparent roof:
On the south side of the square, on the Danube River, stands a a bronze statue of General Milan Rastislav Stefanik (Vice-Chairman of the Czecho-Slovakian National Council and the first minister of war of Czechoslovakia), created by a Czech sculptor Bohumil Kafka. The huge (7.4 m) bronze statue of Štefánik is behind a high pylon with the bronze lion holding the coat of arms of Czechoslovakia. On the pylon is a bronze reproduction of the Czechoslovak Declaration of Independence of 30 May 1918:
Arcadia Hotel - Eurovea Shopping Mall:
New Slovak National Theater, Pribinova 17 is situated near the banks of river Danube near Eurovea Shopping Mall. The NEW building of Slovak National Theatre provides space for drama, opera, concerts and other cultural events. The large modern theatre building, near the Danube, was opened on 14 April 2007. The fountain in front, was designed by Alexander Biľkovič, Iľja Skoček and Peter Bauer:
It is a 1.5 km. walk to our next destination - another famous square - Hviezdoslavovo námestie. Head west toward Olejkárska, 120 m. Continue onto Pribinova, 350 m. Continue onto Dostojevského rad, 45 m. Continue onto Šafárikovo námestie, 20 m. Note the Park and the Fountain (Duck Fountain, Kačacia fontána, 1914, Robert Kuhmayer). Note also the fairy-tale pink buildings in the square (Art- Nouveau apartment building built after 1904):
Continue onto Vajanského nábrežie, 450 m. Continue onto Námestie Ľudovíta Štúra, 55 m. Ľudovít Štúr (1815 - 1856) was the author of the Slovak language standard language. Note the monument with a bronze sculpture with a statue of Štúr with several figures behind him. Sculptor: Tibor Bártfay, a Slovak sculptor. Note: we'll return to this square in the end of this route:
Continue onto Rázusovo nábrežie, 150 m. Turn right onto Riečna, 80 m. Turn left toward Hviezdoslavovo námestie. Hviezdoslavovo námestie is the biggest square in Bratislava down town. Is very popular place for the foreign and also domestic tourists and local residents of Bratislava. Beautiful place with statues, elaborate, ornamental water fountains and cafes. The people can find here a wealth of very good restaurants (many of them a bit overpriced !), the best ice cream and many seasonal festivals including new year markets. There are a lot of sitting places for chilling. It is tree lined which provides shade in the summer and leaves all over the place in Autumn. This is a very nice alongated square with a long pedestrian-only paths/roads. There are several embassies along the square. kill, here, an hour or two ! The square underwent major reconstruction at the end of the 20th century. Before reconstruction, it looked like a small city park; now it looks like a city promenade. On February 24, 2005 US President George W. Bush gave a public speech in Hviezdoslav Square during his visit to Bratislava for the Slovakia Summit 2005 with the president of Russia Vladimir Putin:
The Historical Slovak National Theatre (Historická budova SND, Slovenské národné divadlo), Jesenského 811 stands in the EASTERN edge of the square. It has 3 ensembles (drama, opera and ballet). It was founded in 1920 after the creation of Czechoslovakia as a cooperative and became a state-run company in 1945. Between 1920 and 1945, there was also a musical ensemble. The Slovak National Theatre has represented Slovak culture on its numerous tours abroad. It was created and, in the 1920s, also run by Czech artists and its 3 ensembles (ballet, drama and opera) were Slovakized only gradually. Since 2007, the ensembles perform only at the old Slovak National Theatre building and the new Slovak National Theatre building opened in April, 2007. The Neo-Renaissance building was built in 1885–1886 during the time of Austria-Hungary. It was opened as the City Theatre on September 22, 1886. Today only the opera and ballet ensembles are resident in the old building.
Bratislava native sculptor Victor Tilgner crafted the famous Ganymede's Fountain (Ganymédova fontána) in 1888, now located immediately in front of the theatre. This is the first decorative fountain in Bratislava from 1888. It is also the first one to be fed filtered water from the Danube. It was inspired by the mythological Ganymede (Greek Myth) combined with the depictions of species common in the local part of the Danube: frogs, turtles and various fish:
Close to the theatre is the larger-than-life-sized statue of Hviezdoslav. Pavol Országh de Felsőkubin Hviezdoslav (February 2, 1849 - November 8, 1921) was a Slovak poet, dramatist, translator and for a short time member of the Czechoslovak parliament:
In the south-west edge of the Hviezdoslav square (opposite the El gaucho restaurant - see our "Bratislava Old Town (Starý Mesto) Centre Walk 1" blog) there is a statue of famous fairy tale author Hans Christian Andersen. About Bratislava he said: "If you want a fairy tale, your city should be a fairy tale itself". After his visit in Bratislava he produced some of his masterpieces such as The Little Match Girl:
Dievca (Maiden) Fountain: the tender-hearted Girl with a deer in front of Hans Christian Andersen sculpture on Hviezdoslavovo Square in Bratislava:
On the southern side are the Radisson Blu Carlton Hotel,
as well as the German and American embassies:
We leave the Hviezdoslav square from its south-west exit/entry. 40 m. further south is the Rybné námestie (Fisheries square). It is situated at the most western edge of the historic zone of Bratislava. Rybné námestie is a space which is bordered on the east by the Hviezdoslavovo Square, in the south is the Danube embankment, in the west there is a rising ramp of the SNP Bridge; the northern boundary is the western wall of the house, which houses the International House of Art for Children Bibiana. This square was significantly affected by the construction of today's SNP Bridge in 70's of the 20th century.
The Plague Column, in this square, was built in 1713 as a reminder of plague:
On Rybné námestie square near St. Martin’s cathedral there used to be a
neological synagogue (Dionýz Milch, 1894), a stunning, oriental-looking building tiled by coloured glazed bricks. It was demolished in 1967. The Memorial of demolished synagogue in Bratislava Rybné námestie square was described in the "Bratislava Old Town (Starý Mesto) Centre Walk 1" blog.
Also, in the Rybné námestie, Hotel Park Inn:
The Rybné námestie is adjacent to the St. Martin Cathedral (see "Bratislava Old Town (Starý Mesto) Centre Walk 1" blog):
a short detour: if you head south on Rybné námestie toward Rázusovo nábrežie, 30 m. and turn right onto Rázusovo nábrežie, 25 m, turn left toward Nábrežie armádneho generála Ludvíka Svobodu, 15 m. and turn right onto Nábrežie armádneho generála Ludvíka Svobodu for 600 m. - you arrive to the floating hotel Botel Marina and Krishna Restaurant:
From Rybné námestie we head south on Rybné námestie toward Rázusovo nábrežie, 30 m. We turn left onto Rázusovo nábrežie, 350 m., slight left onto Námestie Ľudovíta Štúra, 15 m. On your left is the Esterhazy palace (Esterházyho palác) with the National Gallery (Slovenská národná galéria). The Slovak National Gallery (SNG) is defined as the supreme and central gallery institution of Slovakia. The building looks a bit run-down (an old palace disfigured by communist architecture). The main part of the gallery might be closed due to the reconstruction. Although the exhibitions are small in size, lovers of art can find them interesting. Monday: Closed. Open: TUE - SUN: 10.00 – 18.00, THU: 12.00 – 20.00. The Gallery is Closed on: Easter, 1 November – All Saints' Day, 24 - 26 December – Christmas. Entry Price: In 2015, free - free admission ! (it is under renovation):
Here, you find, also, the Malecon - a High-end bar, with the best latino atmosphere and a restaurant with top notch staff and service. Usually you find the "creme de la creme" hanging out at Malecon.
We return to Michael's Gate and Tower (see "Bratislava Old Town (Starý Mesto) Centre Walk 1" blog) with a 700 m. walk. From Námestie Ľudovíta Štúra head west 15 m. Turn right to stay on Námestie Ľudovíta Štúra, 20 m. Continue onto Mostová, 190 m. Turn right onto Jesenského, 20 m. Turn left onto Hviezdoslavovo námestie, 50 m. Continue onto Rybárska brána, 120 m. Continue straight onto Hlavné námestie, 50 m. Continue onto Sedlárska, 100 m. Turn right onto Michalská, 150 m. and the Michalská brána is on your right. The late afternoon or evening hours are the best to explore Michael's Gate surroundings. Sandstone Baroque sculpture of St. John of Nepomuk at the NORTH side of the Michael's Gate is probably the work of Louis Gode (d. 1750). The sculpture was restored by sculptors Andrej miners and Ladislav Chamuty:
Stand on the balcony/bridge near the statues and look downstairs. There is a nice garden with an orchestra or musical group (usually, during the weekends). Splendidg atmosphere ! If you are lucky - you'll experience Balkan music with instruments like: Mandolins and Balalaikas.
Bratislava old town (Starý Mesto):
Attractions: Župné námestie square, Trinitarian Church of Bratislava or Church of saints John from Matha and Felix from Valois, Capuchin Church (Kostol sv. Štefana), Michael's Gate (Michalská brána), Pharmacy Salvator, St. Martin Cathedral, monument to the synagogue, Gašparkovo divadlo, Kapitulská Ulica, Pálffy Palace in Ventúrska 10, Johann Pálffy Palace (Pálffyho palác, Panská 19), Hviezdoslavovo námestie (Hviezdoslavovo Square), Hlavné námestie (Main Square), Old Town Hall, Jesuit Church, Apponyi Palace, man-like statues, Roland Fountain (Maximiliánova fontána), Primate's Palace, Franciscan Church and Monastery, Mirbach Palace.
Tip 1: From Župné námestie (square) to Hlavné námestie (Main Square).
Tip 2: City Hostel.
Tip 3: El Gaucho restaurant.
Tip 4: Prasna Basta restaurant.
Start: Župné námestie square.
End: Hlavné námestie or back to Župné námestie (350 m. from the main square).
Introduction - why Bratislava ? Bratislava has one of the smallest historical centres in the world but it is also one of the most charming. Bratislava is a city that is best explored on foot to fully appreciate its rich architectural heritage. The interesting mix of German, Hungarian, Austrian, Jewish and Czech influences is evident everywhere.Walk through the city's historic Old Town, filed with quaint cobblestone streets, trees and fountains around small parks. Bratislava is also rich in art and culture with ballet performances and operas taking place the year round. The well-preserved Staré Mesto (Old Town) of Bratislava is the perfect place to get a dose of the city’s medieval history, stroll through narrow pedestrian streets, or sip espresso at cafés.
We start our 1/2-3/4 day walk in the Župné námestie square. It is located near the: Kapucínska street , SNP Square (Square of the Slovak National Uprising) and the Commerce street. In 2006 it was completely renovated along with other streets around, in the historic center. The main square is connected with the edges of the town with tram lines. The square looks like half-pedestrian zone. The main building in the square is the Trinitarian Church (see below) - adjacent to an older building of the National Council.
Trinitarian Church of Bratislava or Church of saints John from Matha and Felix from Valois (Slovak: Kostol trinitárov, Trinitársky kostol or Trojičný kostol or Kostol svätého Jána z Mathy a svätého Felixa z Valois) is a Baroque-style church in Bratislava's Old Town, on the Župné námestie square. The Trinitarian Church of Bratislava is also known as the Church of Saint John of Matha and Saint Felix of Valois. The church was built on the site of the older Church of St. Michael, which was demolished in 1529, along with the settlement of St. Michael, during the Ottoman wars, along with other suburbs, so as to see better the attacking Turks. The Trinitarian Order started construction of the church in 1717 and it was sanctified in 1727, although work in the interior continued into the first half of the 18th century. the church is chockfull of fantastic Baroque features. Many of the components found in the design of the building were influenced by features of the St. Peter’s Church in Vienna, the sister city of Bratislava. With its awe-inspiring vaulting and unbelievable frescoes, this is categorically a must-see for those who appreciate architecture. The altar was manufactured by A.G. Bussi. The main feature of the construction is the altarpiece showing St. John of Matha and St. Felix of Valois ransoming prisoners, while the statues of St. Agnes and St. Catherine flank the altar. Over the years, the great hall of the church has played host to various prominent composers who held concerts for the public, including Johannes Brahms and Franz Liszt. The building has served as a secular and sacred facility with everything from church services to political events being facilitated within its walls.
The entrance to the basilica of the Trinitarian Church of St John of Matha and Saint Felix of Valois. On the left is the former monastery, now a county house:
Interior of the Trinitarian Church in Bratislava:
We head southeast on Župné námestie, 35 m and turn right to stay on Župné námestie, another 20 m. Continue onto Kapucínska. On our right is the Capuchin Church (Kostol sv. Štefana) - next to the Trinitarian church. Capuchin Church and monastery is devoted to St. Stephen. Opposite the church - Pillar of the Plague with Our Lady from 1723 dedicated to Virgin Mary:
View from Kapucínska to Bratislava Castle. On the right is the Capuchin Church:
From Kapucínska turn left onto Klariská, 40 m. Turn left (EAST) onto Baštová, 140 m. and turn left onto Michalská. Michael's Gate (Michalská vezha) or Tower (Michalská brána), Michalská 22 is on the right. Michael's Gate is the only city gate that has been preserved of the medieval fortifications. It is one of the oldest town buildings - built about the year 1300 AD. Its present shape is the result of Baroque reconstructions in 1758, when the copper sculpture of Archangel Michael was added on its top. The gate's tower hosts the Exhibition of Weapons of Bratislava City Museum. In the medieval times Bratislava was surrounded by fortified walls, and entry and exit was only possible through one of the four heavily fortified gates. In the north, there was St. Michael's Gate named after St. Michael and the St. Michael church that stood in front of it (outside the town wall). Later on it was put down and materials gained from it were used in the building of additional town walls. On the east side of the town, it was the Laurinc Gate, named after Saint Lawrence, in the south it was the Fishermen's Gate (Halász kapu), (Rybná brána). This was the smallest gate of the four, used mainly by the fishermen entering the city with fish caught in the river Danube. On the west side it was the Vydrica Gate (Vödric kapu), (Vydrická brána), also called the Dark Gate or Black Gate, since it was like a tunnel - dark and long.
Michael's Gate was the centerpiece of a larger fortification system which included two rings of city walls, two bastions, a barbican and a falling bridge over the water moat. While the city walls have disappeared in this part of the city, the barbican survives, although partially built into later houses. Today, the barbican is partially built into the house on Michalská Street No. 25. It contained windows (holes) facing the moat area, which were visible as late as 1960's, but are completely covered now. The falling bridge was later replaced by a wooden one and the brick structure that is today's Michael's Bridge was built in 1727 and it is the oldest bridge in the city. This area also contains the last remaining stretch of the Bratislava Moat, half of which has been made accessible to the public since year 2006, the other half remains closed for unknown reasons. You can see the tower from all around the relatively small Old Town. There is a very interesting exposition about Arms and Municipal Fortifications on six floors of the tower. If you venture up to the very top of the tower you will be rewarded with outstanding views of Bratislava, and an excellent photo opportunity of the castle. Open All Year: WED - MON: 10.00 - 17.00. Closed Tuesdays:
450 metres away, you’ll see the Pharmacy Salvator with a lobster hanging up at the entrance and medicines showed in the stalls. Find out the history of pills, drugs if you are interested to…. Head south on Michalská toward Zámočnícka, 150 m (we'll return to this place in the end of our itinerary). Continue onto Ventúrska, 200 m.
Note at Ventúrska #3 the Academia Istropolitana. This is the first academic university of the former Hungarian empire founded
by king Matthias Corvinus in 1465. The Academia Istropolitana was of
immense significance for the development and promotion of the humanist philosophy in the Hungarian empire. One of the European scholars who taught here was Johannes Muller Regiomontanus (1436 to 1476), who lectured on the movement of the Earth around the Sun 100 years before Galileo !!! Today the Academy of Performing Arts resides in the building. BUT, apart from the courtyard, the palace IS NOT OPEN to the public:
Turn right onto Panská, 100 m.
and the museum is on the left (Panská 25). It is a neo-Renaissance building and former pharmacy constructed by pharmacist Rudolf Adler in 1904. The pharmacy itself was founded by Archbishop Georg Lippay in the 17th century and changed owners and locations several times before settling in this custom-built structure where it continued to operate for another 102 years before being shut down in 1996. The building used to contain culturally protected Baroque pharmaceutical furniture from the year 1727 which is today in a private collection. The building's facade features a stone statue of Christ the Saviour by sculptor Alojz Rigele. The ground floor is abandoned and the upper floors contain 10 flats, partially occupied by the Slovak National Theatre employees. Since 1963 the building is a culturally protected monument and it is one of the more striking examples of neo-Renaissance architecture in Bratislava. Pharmacy Salvator is located across the street from the monumental St. Martin's Cathedral and it is part of most guided tours of the city:
Head southwest on Panská, 85 m.Note at Panská 29 (above shop window of an optician) the Taunter sculpture. There are various explanations for this strange carving of a small, apparently naked man set into the façade of a house. One of them says it was intended to ridicule the curious owner of an adjacent house who used to spy on passers-by on the street through a small window. Another explanation says it's a boy rushing to the window from his chamber pot to the window so as to not miss a coronation parade:
Turn right toward Rudnayovo námestie, 4) m. Turn right onto Rudnayovo námestie and St. Martin Cathedral, (Dóm sv. Martina) (Katedrála svätého Martina), Rudnayovo námestie 1 will be on the left. It is situated at the western border of the historical city center below Bratislava Castle. It is the largest and finest, as well as one of the oldest churches in Bratislava, This XIV’th Gothic building was the coronation church, between 1563 and 1830, of 19 Hungarian Emperors (including Maria Theresia) until the 19th century. St Martin's 85 m. spire dominates Bratislava Old Town’s skyline. The tower virtually formed a part of the town’s fortifications, built as it was into the city’s defensive walls. The surroundings of St Martin's are impressive as the structure itself. These include the picturesque remains of outer buildings in a spacious courtyard, and a working seminary with robed adepts on a cobblestone side street. Open: MON - SAT 09.00 - 17.00, SUN 13.30 - 16.00 (November - March it closes 1 hour earlier ). Price: € 2.
A small but significant neighbor of the cathedral is a monument to the synagogue, which stood next door for centuries until the Communist government demolished it around 1970 to make room for a new Nový Most bridge. The original synagogue and a lot of the Jewish quarter were destroyed by the Communists when they built the new highway and bridge many years ago. The monument and a model of the demolished synagogue sit on the site of the original synagogue. There’s a Holocaust memorial behind it:
Don’t be disappointed by its exterior which seems a bit common and let your steps get in where you’ll be impressed by every detail and where you’ll imagine what was a luxurious ceremony of coronation like. Apart from a nice statue of St. Martin carved by sculptor Georg Rafael Donner, you can see golden, Gothic style altars which you’ll find quite attractive. On the whole, the most important details are a Classic Gothic nave, the vaulted arches and stain-glassed windows which strike every tourist. The final leg of your visit is climbing to the church’s tower where it is displayed St. Stephen’s Crown, a 1m high copy of the Hungarian royal crown and other treasury things ( Beethoven has had a premiere here). The cathedral contains the remains of Saint John the Merciful who died in the early 7th Century:
Carved relief from 19. cent. by Ferdinand Prinoth from St. Ulrich on Gothic side altar:
The best-known works in the cathedral were created in the eighteenth century by Austrian baroque sculptor Georg Raphael Donner at the behest of Imre Esterhazy, Bishop of Esztergom. He created the main altar, a small Baroque chapel dedicated to St John and a large lead statue of the cathedral's patron saint, Martin, astride a horse. Art historians consider this statue of St Martin among Donner's most interesting works. Martin is leaning off his horse to cut his robe in two pieces so he can give half to the shivering, naked poor man cowering below. Donner's statues are always quite vivid, but this figure engages the viewer in the action even more than usual.
Facing the rear of the church after walking in, there is a Westwerk, a gallery where the king could sit above the congregation during services.
South to the St. Martin Cathedral and the Salvator Pharmacy stands the El Gaucho - Argentinian Steakhouse, Hviezdoslavovo námestie 13 (see Tip 3 below).
In the end of Rudnayovo námestie road, at #4 - stands the Gašparkovo divadlo - Family and Children Environmental Bratislava Theater with a capacity of 45 children turned up to offer regular performances every weekend. There is also a game room which is open one hour before and during the performance. Shows held over the weekend, usually on Saturday at 17.00 hrs., On Sunday at 11.00. Prices: from € 3.5 to € 4.5. You must buy a ticket for a parent. Children under 12 months have free admission. Tickets can be purchased one hour before the performance:
You can surround the St. Martin Cathedral to its northern side and get a glimpse up of the Kapitulská Ulica (road). From the 16th to 19th century, “Canonry Street” greeted the first steps of the newly coronated Hapsburg kings and queens, who descended from the St. Martin’s Cathedral. Today, you can hardly imagine such pomp. While Kapitulská is the most authentic section of Old Town Bratislava, it’s also the most neglected. It is a cobble-stoned lane - be on guard not to sprain an ankle on the steep stones. Admire the simple but elegant two-story homes, with archways tall enough for the horse-drawn carriages:
We trace back and return to the Ventúrska road (we've been there before). Head south on Kapitulská toward Úzka, 15 m. Turn left onto Prepoštská, 100 m. Turn right onto Ventúrska, 50 m. Walk along Ventúrska road with your face to the south. After passing Zelená on your left - you see the Pálffy Palace in Ventúrska 10. Perhaps the most astonishing fact is that there are two Pálffy Palaces in Bratislava’s old town and both are often mixed up. One just called Pálffy Palace and the other called Johann Pálffy Palace. Pálffy Palace (non-Johann…) is from 1747, a Baroque-style palace located in the centre of Bratislava. It is recognizable from its attractive portal.. It was built for count Leopold Pálffy, an Austrian army officer form the powerful Pálffy family. Young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart gave one of his first public concerts here in 1762. Today, it houses the Austrian Embassy of Slovakia.
Head south on Ventúrska toward Panská, 75 m. Turn left onto Panská and at # 19 is the SECOND Pálffy Palace. Johann Pálffy Palace is a classicist palace from 1747. It was the seat of the Pressburg county administration from the early 19th century to the late 1850s. It now hosues a part of the Bratislava City Gallery. (Galéria mesta Bratislavy - Pálffyho palác, Panská 19) (near the Hviezdoslav Square). Today the palace offers contemporary selections as well as the classic masters collections. Note: The Bratislava City Gallery displays its collections in TWO historical building located in the historical centre of Bratislava, namely at Mirbach Palace, situated in Františkánske square opposite the Franciscan Church, and at Pálffy Palace, situated in Panská Street 19, opposite the British Embassy. The palace is standing on the site of a former building, which was until the mid-1850s the seat of Pozsony county. After the seat moved elsewhere, it was rebuilt in late Classicist style by the Pálffy family, who were former hereditary chiefs of the Pozsony county. Open everyday (EXCEPT MONDAYS): 11.00 - 18.00:
Visually, most popular is probably the "Passage" by Matej Krén, consisting of almost 15,000 books, which, together with mirrors, create an illusion of endless space and infinity of human knowledge.
Another extraordinary piece is the "Villa of Mysteries" by Alex Mlynárčik, which presents significant part of Slovak fine art and an authentic evidence of the originally created for the period. It has originally been created for the exhibition in Lund (Sweden).
Permanent exposition consists also Slovak art, Gothic glass paintings, pictures from the Dutch and Flemish masters from 17th and 18th centuries, also pieces by Italian masters from the 17th to 19th century.
Saints - St. Sebastian - Dorota Sadovská:
If you sneak a bit further to the south - you arrive to the Hviezdoslavovo námestie (Hviezdoslavovo Square). It is located in the Old Town, between the New Bridge and the Slovak National Theatre. The square is named after Pavol Országh Hviezdoslav (a Slovak poet, dramatist, translator and for a short time member of the Czechoslovak parliament). We'll return to this square later (see the second blog of the old town) !
We'll head to Zámočnícka - using a different route (not repeating the Ventúrska road). It is a 500 m. walk. From Panská 19 (the Bratislava City Museum/Gallery) we head northeast on Panská toward Rybárska brána,160 m. Turn left onto Rybárska brána, 55 m. Turn right onto Hlavné námestie, 60 m. Hlavné námestie (Main Square) is one of the best known squares in Bratislava. It is often considered to be the center of the city. The main square of Bratislava, surrounded by colorful buildings, restaurants, souvenir shops and mini market. The place stages a series of summer concerts, or the christmas market in December. During the socialism period (1948–1989), the square was named Námestie 4. apríla (4 April Square: the day when Bratislava was liberated by the Red Army at the end of WW2). Earlier names were: Hitlerovo namestie (1939–1945), Masarykovo namestie, Ferenc József tér (1914), Fő tér, Hauptplatz (1879), Franz Joseph-Platz (1850), Forum civitatis (1668), Ring (1434), Markcht (1404), Forum (1373). Some of the main landmarks found in the square are the Old Town Hall and Roland Fountain. It is beautiful, very well maintained and primarily comprised of pedestrian-only streets - a plus if you like to wander around looking up at buildings and statues. There's no traffic and it is surrounded by beautiful pastel coloured Renaissance buildings.
North side of the Town Hall and the Jesuit Tower:
Within the square you can visit the Old Town Hall as well as the Museum of the History of Bratislava and Bratislava City Museum found within this famous building. It is the oldest city hall in the country with a tower that offers a charming panoramic view on the main sights. There is always something going on – traditional markets, concerts or other types of cultural program. Old Town Hall is from the 14th century in the Old Town of Bratislava. The tower was built approximately in 1370. Today, Old Town Hall has been used as the city museum (see above). Do not miss the inner courtyard !
Note the Man in Black painted on the facade of the Old Town Hall, by the
Gothic bay. According to a legend - it is an illustration left here by the
devil of a devious councilor who wanted to expel a widow out of
The Jesuit Church (Holy Saviour Church) (Kostol Najsvätejšieho Spasiteľa) an originally protestant church from the 17th century on the Franciscan Square in the Old Town of Bratislava. Today, the church belongs to the Society of Jesus, known as the Jesuit Order:
Next door is the Apponyi Palace, Radničná 1 (It is the first narrow street on the right from the Old Town Hall), which is another restored historical building hosting two more interesting museums, the Period Rooms Museum and the Museum of Viticulture (wine making). The palace formerly belonged to Hungarian nobleman Count George Apponyi. As we said, the museum it now contains presents Bratislava's history as a city full of vineyards, wine bars and wine cellars. Today, once again, many of these have come back to life. Fine local wines are available to taste and buy in the palace's historical courtyard. They are worth a try: the excellent wines from this area were once drunk by King Matthias Corvinus and the Bohemian aristocracy. From 1767, Empress Maria Theresia imported 'Frankovka' (a local variety of red wine) from the Bratislava district of Rača to the Viennese court. The ticket you purchase in the Museum of Period Rooms is valid also for the Museum of Viticulture. Open Hours: daily except Mondays, TUE - FRI 10.00 – 18.00, SAT - SUN 11.00 - 18.00. Prices: 4 € per person:
It’s time to meet wonderful man-like statues! Where? Just in the Old Centre. On the square you can see the famous Nepoleon's Army Soldier statue perched over the park bench. Additional quirky statues can be found in the area as well, like:
Cumil or Rubberneck (on the corner of Panska street and Rybarska gate) - inspired by the figure of The Good Soldier Švejk. There’s a working man called Cumil who invites tourists to lean forward (to the ground) to be taken a photo with. He’s not filthy so don’t be afraid and give him a hug while saying cheese:
Not far from this popular statue, it stands another one- the Paparazzi (or the Photographer) (Laurinska street) which is coming from the corner, holding a camera to snap photos of every passer-by. Feel like a star!
Wasn’t it enough? No, it’s time to encounter the happiest “person” on Bratislava or Schone Naci (Sedlarska street) , an older gentleman lifting his hat to greet you as you pass. Something like a famous clown who gained local fame so don’t miss it! Schöner Náci or Schöne Náci (real name Ignác Lamár) was a renowned Bratislava character of the mid-20th century. He was born in Petržalka on 11 August 1897 (then Hungary), and died of tuberculosis in Lehnice on October 23, 1967 (then Czechoslovakia). He was originally buried in Lehnice, but his remains were reburied in Bratislava's Ondrejský cemetery on September 2, 2007. Schöner Náci was the son of a shoemaker and grandson of a famous clown, also Ignác Lamár, and was inspired by the latter's example to bring happiness to the streets of the city. He walked around the Old Town and in particular the stretch from Michael's Gate to the river, in top hat and tails, greeting women with the words, “I kiss your hand” in German, Hungarian and Slovak. He received free food from several of the city’s cafes, and supported himself with occasional cleaning work:
The last but not the least interesting statue is the Napoleon’s Army Soldier one, leaning over a park bench in the center of the square, just waiting for you to take a souvenir photo with “him”:
Roland Fountain (Maximilian Fountain) (Maximiliánova fontána). Oldest standing fountain in the city, it was ordered by Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor after a fire in 1563. The Maximilian fountain was built in 1572 in the Austrian stone workshop of Andreas Lutringer, with the financial support of the Hungarian King Maximilian II. Major reconstruction in the mid-18th century, outer pool added in 2006. The fountain features in local legends. It is a Slovak National Cultural Monument. However, the fountain is better known as Roland’s fountain. To this day, inhabitants of the town still perceive a veil of mystery around the fountain. The knight Roland stands in his place, facing the Town Hall:
If you walk past the Old Town Hall, just beyond Nlavne Namestie you will find the Primate's Palace (Primatial Palace), (Palac Primacialny), which is another attraction potentially worth visiting to see a rare collection of historic English tapestries (see below) and a lovely inner courtyard. It was once the headquarters of archbishops and cardinals, but it is perhaps more famous for its beautiful Hall of Mirrors, in which numerous political treaties and pacts have been signed over the years. The Bratislava treaty between France and Austria was signed here in the Hall of Mirrors on
December 26th 1805. Visitors can visit the hall. The beautiful Hall of Mirrors houses concerts and weddings. The palace also houses an exhibition of English tapestries from the 17th century, which originate from the royal loom in the English town of Mortlake and were discovered during the reconstruction in 1903. It remains a mystery how the tapestries made their way to Bratislava from Britain, but they are now among the most valuable art pieces to be found in Slovakia. The series of six tapestries tells the story of Hero and Leander in elaborate wool, silk and gilt thread. The Primatial palace (1778-1781) was built on the site of the original courtyard which belonged to the Esztergom archbishop. The frontal facade of the palace is designed in a strictly Classicist style. The first owner of the palace was cardinal Jozef Batthyanyi. At the top of the palace is an imposing black iron cardinal hat. The gable of the building is decorated with a number of allegorical statues, representing the cardinal’s human qualities and achieved ranks. Today, the palace is the seat of the town’s Mayor:
The beautiful Renaissance Old Town Hall's courtyard holds cultural programs in the summer and concerts can be heard from the tower.
In the courtyard there is the beautiful St. George Fountain and it is interesting visit to the state apartments. The exquisite fountain of St. George is depicting the legendary knight battling a dragon. According to a legend, the figure of St. George is identical to the one of archbishop Juraj (George), and his battle with the dragon symbolizes the endeavor of the Catholic church to save the city from reformation. Legend has it that knight St. George saved virgin Dubravka from the dragon and as a reward received her hand in marriage. Every year, on the occasion of St. George’s Day, the stone statue comes to life, turns around on his horse and bows to the inhabitants of the city:
Turn left to stay on Hlavné námestie, 30 m. Continue onto Františkánske námestie, 140 m. On your right, the Franciscan Church and Monastery. The Franciscan Church and Monastery is the oldest church in the Slovak Republic's capital city. The tall Gothic tower was built in the 13th century and is visible throughout whole Bratislava. It is hidden
behind a Baroque facade of the Church of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary. In the 16th century this was the site where Hungarian noblemen were made knights of golden spurs (as a part of a coronation). The chapel of St. John the Evangelist from the 14th century ranks amongst the rarest Gothic monuments in Slovakia. The Franciscan monastery has an original Gothic crossed arcade corridor. In 1526 the Hungarian parliament elected Ferdinand I as the first Habsburg king on the Hungarian throne. After an earthquake in 1897 the statics of the original Gothic tower were disturbed. The tower was therefore, dismantled and relocated to the Petržalka park where it stands to this day. The inhabitants of the city insisted that the earthquake was a manifestation of divine wath for the allegedly godless life of the Franciscan monks.
OPENING HOURS: SUN - THU 10.30 – 17.00:
Across from the Franciscan Church, you will find the Mirbach Palace (Primaciálny palác), Františkánske nám. 11, which is one of two city locations to host the City of Bratislava Gallery (see above). The yellow/pink palace itself is an artistic jewel from the old Pressburg era. Along with its Rococo style architecture, colourful engravings are also preserved from the original interior design. The palace is named after its last owner, Count Emil Mirbach who was shot in 1945 by the invading Russians and the palace was expropriated along with the contained Mirbach's art collections. The palace was completely renovated in 1975. After renovations and reconstructions, the palace became one of two seat of Bratislava City Gallery. Mirbach Palace now holds occasional gallery shows in its halls, and houses the permanent exhibition of Central European Baroque Painting and Sculptures, which attracts many tourists. The ground floor is currently home to modern works by Slovak artist Milan Pagáč, including a floor-filling neon installation. The first floor holds a permanent exhibition of the gallery's collection of central European baroque painting and sculpture. Two of its rooms, elaborately wood-panelled, are preserved from the original palace interior. Each of the panels – and there are scores of them – holds a small neoclassical painting, but the overall effect, perhaps due to the dim lighting, is gloomy rather than spectacular. It is worth persevering through the hundred or so artworks arranged around the floor: towards the end are two (a third is currently on loan to the Louvre in Paris) of Franz Messerschmidt's astonishingly modern 'character heads'. These grimacing bronze busts were created by the artist after he had moved to Bratislava (then Pressburg) in the late 1770s (see Tipter Vienna Belvedere blog). Open daily except Mondays, 11.00 – 18.00. Prices: €3.50:
We continue from the Hlavné námestie (Main Square) to Zámočnícka road (Locksmith Street). From the impressive Hlavné námestie continue NORTHWARD onto Zámočnícka, 40 m.
Zámočnícka road (Locksmith Street):
At No. 11 in Zámočnícka road - you can find the famous Prasna Basta (see Tip 4) restaurant. To return to our start point: Head west on Zámočnícka toward Michalská, 60 m. Turn right onto Michalská, 40 m. Michalská turns right and becomes Hurbanovo námestie, 75 m. Take the crosswalk, 40 m. Turn left onto Župné námestie, 130 m.
Connection with the "Bratislava Old Town (Starý Mesto) Centre Walk 2" itinerary: we ended this route in the Zámočnícka ulica, 50 m. from Michalská brána (Michael's Gate and Tower). So, we start our connection in the Michalská brána (Michael's Arch) - Michalská road.
Head north on Michalská toward Hurbanovo námestie, 30 m. Michalská turns right and becomes Hurbanovo námestie, 75 m. Take the crosswalk, 50 m. Continue onto Námestie SNP (youv'e, already, been here in the first walk...), 350 m. Turn right to stay on Námestie SNP, 80 m. Take the crosswalk, 400 m. Turn right onto Klemensova, 400 m. Continue onto Krupkova, 130 m. Turn left onto Pribinova, 250 m. Turn right to stay on Pribinova, and M. R. Štefánika square is on the right, 55 m. Now turn to the "Bratislava Old Town (Starý Mesto) Centre Walk 2" blog.