AUG 11,2011 - AUG 11,2011 (1 DAYS)
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.
Restaurant Modrá Hviezda (the Blue Star), 14 Beblaveho, Bratislava.
From the Bratislava Castle it is 450 m. walk: the itinerary fits our route down back from the castle (see above blog) - even if the restaurant is a bit tucked away. Head south on Vodný vrch, 85 m. Slight left toward Zámocké schody, 130 m. Turn right toward Zámocké schody another 130 m. Slight left onto Zámocké schody, 85 m. Continue onto Beblavého (cobbled-stone alley sloping down), 15 m. Further east (after crossing Staromestska') is the St. Martin Cathedral. A bit expensive in Bratislava standards - but, still, moderate and reasonable prices in European standards. Slovak, filling, delicious food with rich variety of a-la-carate offerings: (veal, rabbit, beef, boar meat, trouts, pate of duck liver, venison goulash, horseradish sauces, filling soups, local wines, distilled fruit beverages). Homely atmosphere. The restaurant space is in historical cave: