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Bratislava Sights

There are many beautiful sights in Bratislava. Here is a list of the famous ones…

Bratislava Castle

Bratislava CastleBratislava Castle (Bratislavský hrad) is one of the landmarks of the city – a National Cultural Monument. IIt is a significant monument not only for the history of Bratislava, but also for the history of the whole country, mainly because its silhouette is embossed on the Slovak cent. It is situated on a rocky hill of the Little Carpathians in the centre of the city and is overlooking the river Danube. It also provides an excellent view of Bratislava and Austria. The massive building has four corner towers, reminding an upturned table.

The development of the today’s castle dates back to the time of the Nitra Principality. The first written record about the castle is from the year 907, contained in the Salzburg Annals, when the old Hungarians defeated the Bavarian army in Bratislava. The castle was a Castle District since the half of the 11th century. It became the Treasury Crown Jewels and later it became a Coronation Castle too.

According to the documentary evidence, in the first quarter of the 13th century at the highest terrain point was a residential tower with a separate fortification, which is preserved as a Crown Tower. The residential tower, which was a place of proper, religious and military life is marked today in the pavement of the court. The Castle Church and the priory moved to the extramural in 1221. Since then, the history of feudal center has its independent development. Today’s appearance of the monumental building arose in the late Gothic reconstruction under the reign of the Emperor Sigismund of Luxembourg, launched in the year 1427. In 1431-1434 large two-storey palace was built there.

Present castle has a regular tetragonal ground-plan around the central courtyard, which arose as a result of construction efforts of the Renaissance and early Baroque period. The last major rebuilding, which has changed the strength to a representative residence of the Habsburg imperial court, was conducted in 1750-1760 by great European (French, Italian and Austrian) architects such as J.N. Jadota, L.N. Pacassiho and J.B. Martinelliho. Shortly after the year 1760, another palace was built – Theressianum, which followed the contemporary style and beauty.

The castle burned down in 1811 and despite of several attempts to improve its structural condition, it was in ruins for over 140 years. The new history of the castle began in 1953, when it acceded to its rescue and gradual reconstruction. The reconstruction of the castle took place in 1953 under the project of Alfred Piffla and Dušan Martinček. After the reconstruction, the castle came into its original appearance as it was after the “Theressian reconstruction” in the end of the 18th century. You can get to the castle by city transport, the stop is near the main gate, or walk from the SNP square through the October Square.

Nowadays the Bratislava castle is used for exhibitions and state functions. You can find Treasury of Slovakia on the ground floor. To other interesting things in the castle belong a collection of archeological findings, branch of Slovak National Museum that covers historical furniture, modern art and history. Gardens of the castle are the most convenient place for pleasant walks, offering beautiful views.

Devín Castle

Devín Castle is a former castle in the eponymous part of Bratislava, which ruins lie on a rocky cliff above the confluence of the rivers Danube and Morava. The castle was a part of boundary defense system Limes Romanus, an important defense fortress of Great Moravia. Devín Castle rock was in 1985 declared as a national natural monument. Extremely important strategic position, already known to the Celts and the Romans, was the cause to establish a massive Slavic fortress on the castle hill. First written mention dates back to the year 864 and the castle bore the name Dowina. The castle was built thanks to Prince Rastislav. The castle has undergone several modifications but in 1809 Napoleon’s troops destroyed it. Since the 20th century archaeological research is carried out in the castle. A memorial plaque is placed in the Renaissance palace, which commemorates the historic trip of the Slovakian Youth to Devin, which was organized by Ľudovít Štúr in 1836. The Devin Castle was declared as a national cultural monument in 1961. You can get to the castle by public transport – bus n.70 (from the bus station Mlynské Nivy), tram n.1 (from the main railway station), bus n.61 (from the airport).

Grassalkovich Palace

Grassalkovich Palace is magnificent late Baroque building. An important and wealthy Croatian Comte Anton Grassalkovich had to build his summer residence in 1760. Anton Grassalkovich was a lawyer and later the chairman of the Royal Crown of Hungary. The palace was a noble aristocratic residence, it was one of the centers of social life, especially in the era of Maria Theressa. One of the most famous balls was organized in honor of the Duke of Saxe-Teschen Albert and his wife Christine, daughter of Maria Theressa. Joseph Haydn was playing on the ball. During the Slovak Republic the president dwelled here. In the era of totality it was a pioneer house. After the reconstruction in 1996 the palace is the residence of the president of the Slovak Republic. The palace is a one-storey building of rectangular ground plan. Although the palace is normally closed to the public, the park behind it is available to the public. The park is known as Grassalkovich Garden and also as the Presidential Palace gardens. Originally it was designed as a decorative French garden. Since 1919, it became a popular place for walks and concerts, and still serves as a quiet retreat from the hustle of the city. A statue of Empress Maria Theressa on horseback stands there and the Fountain of Youth can be found there too. The park also includes an alley of presidents, where each head of the state plants a small oak tree as a visit sign. The palace is located on the Hodžovo námestie and you can entry it via the street Štefánikova or Banskobystrická Street.

Primate’s Palace

Bratislava Castle FlowersPrimaciálny palác (Primate’s Palace) belongs to the most significant buildings in Bratislava. The Palace was built in 13th century. Requirements were not met, so the building was pulled down in the 18the century. A new bigger luxurious palace was built in the spirit of French Classicism. Since 1903 the Palace belongs to the city. Nowadays it is used as the city’s mayor’s residence.

18th c. neo-Classical pink palace with 300 lb. archbishop’s hat on top to indicate it was the winter residence of the Archbishop of Estergom (Hungary’s Rome). Inside are valuable 17th c. tapestries. Famous documents signed in the palace’s Hall of Mirrors: 1805 treaty ending war between Napoleon and Austro-Hungarian Empire; 1848 abolition of serfdom (similar to slavery); 1968 agreement by Soviets not to interfere with Czechoslovakia’s democratic reforms known as the “Prague Spring” (less than a month later, the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia).

Apponyi Palace

Apponyi Palace (Radničná 1) was built by Comte Juraj Apponyi of Oponice in the years 1761-1762 in Rococo style. The city bought the palace in 1867 for the needs of the municipality, and serves as Bratislava City Museum since 1932. Since April 2008, after an extensive reconstruction, the Museum of Viticulture and the Museum of Historical interiors are located in the palace. Museum of Viniculture is located on the ground floor and basement of the Apponyi Palace. Growing grapes and wine production have an important place in the history of Bratislava. With original articles the museum documents the history of viticulture, vineyard self-organization, but also the production of sparkling wine, particularly the two major wine companies – Hubert J.E and Palugyay. These were known throughout the Europe and received many international awards. Museum of Historical interiors is located on the first and second floor of the Apponyi Palace and presents the historical interior equipment. The first floor with preserved original decoration – wooden wall claddings and wall paintings – is arranged as a representative piano nobile with an intention to evoke a noble interior of the end of the 18th century. The second floor represents the Bratislava bourgeois interior from the late 18th century to the end of the 19th century. You get to the Apponyi Palace by public transport (1,4,5,8,12,17,28,29,30,31…).

Zichy Palace

Music center is located in the house of the Zichy Palace in the heart of the Old Town on Venturska Street. The palace was built in the years 1770-1780. The building represents Baroque classicism with the architectural elements in the style of Louis XVI. and has undergone several reconstructions in several architectural phases. The reconstruction in 1980-1989 gave back to the building the palatial style, hence the Civil Ceremonies House was created in order to use it for cultural and social activities. Due to its advantageous location – the center of the Old Town – it was adapted to the cultural activities and a Local Cultural Center, Old Town was formed out of it. A part of the cultural activities are two galleries: the Z Gallery and the Gallery of Cyprian Majerník, where regular exhibitions of several authors are being held. Activities of the Z Gallery started in March 1996 and focus mainly on the presentation of contemporary art of Slovak and foreign authors. Gallery of Cyprian Majerník (originally founded in 1957 on the initiative of Ernest Spitz) is the second oldest still existing gallery in Bratislava. The main focus of the gallery is to promote and present the young artists and the owner of its brand is the Slovak Union of Visual Arts.

Pálffy Palace

Where Mozart played for Empress Maria Theresa in 1762; includes collection of excellent early 20th c. paintings of Slovak peasant life.

Michael’s Gate

Michael’s Gate is the only preserved gate of the original four in the Bratislava city fortification, nowadays a monument in the Old Town. It was named after the village and church of St. Michael, which was near the suburbs. Nowadays, the village reminds only a pink ledger at about the third floor level visible from the inside. In the past it consisted of drawbridge, portcullis and heavy wooden doors. Only the upper beam with holes for door hinges was preserved. The tower was built in the late 14th century. The eight-flank upper part of the tower was built in the years 1511-1517. At the end of the 16th century the roof had a copper onion with a small pennant. The tower received its present Baroque appearance in the reconstruction in 1753-1758, together with the statue of St. Michael, created by Peter Ellero. Its current height is 51 m. Outside the gate is a bridge that spans the former moat along the castle wall. On the inner side of the gate is a stone Gothic index, on the south side is an inscription in cartouche, according to which the tower was renovated by the City Council and the Bratislava population in 1758.

The last remaining original gate of the city’s fortified walls, which were torn down more than 200 years ago. Climb the tower for a great rooftop view of the city and peek into the weapons museum and explore the city walls.

St. Martin’s Cathedral

St. Martin's Cathedral in BratislavaJust under the castle hill there is a gothic structure – Katedrála sv. Martina (St. Martin’s Cathedral). The church was built in the 13th century originally in Romanesque style. It was replaced by 3-nave Gothic Dome in the late 14th century. The Dome became the coronation church of Hungarian kings in the 16th century. Maria Theresa and another 18 Hungarian Emperors were crowned here.

The most interesting sights inside the St. Martin’s Cathedral are St. Stephen’s Crown and the 18th century statue of St. Martin and the Beggar who was sculpted by Austrian baroque sculptor Raphael Donner. St. Stephen’s Crown is a 1 meter high copy of the Hungarian royal crown placed on the church tower.

Main Square

Hlavné námestie (Main Square) in BratislavaHlavné námestie (The Main Square) is considered to be the real heart of the Old Town. The square is especially charming during the summer season, as it is full of outdoor cafe seating, market stools, and blooming trees.

The atmosphere is just getting better thanks to beautiful Roland fountain. It is simply the best place for relaxing and taking in the amazing atmosphere of the old town. There are many more interesting palaces on the square. The most important and according to many opinions the most beautiful building on the square is the Old Town Hall.

Lined with handsome pastel-colored baroque and renaissance buildings – formerly merchant homes, now many house foreign embassies. Notice the statues around the Square, especially Cumil, who looks up women’s skirts from a manhole near an ice cream stand. And smiling but tragic Handsome Ignatius (Schone Naci), who went insane after his fiance was killed in a concentration camp.

Old Town Hall

Old Town Hall is a historic building on the Main Square in Bratislava and is one of the oldest buildings in Bratislava. It consists of several buildings, namely Jakubov dom (James House), Pawerov dom (Pawer House), Ungerov dom (Unger House) and Apponyi Palace. The original part of the Town Hall is a house with its own tower on the eastern edge of the square. The Town Hall was built in Gothic style in the 15th century as a result of a combination of several houses (Pawer House, Unger House and Apponyi Palace). The main building next to the tower was built in the 14th century by major James, however the tower itself was built in the 13th century in Gothic style. Later it has undergone several changes and enhancements, especially the reconstruction in Renaissance style in 1599 after damaging in an earthquake, Baroque reconstruction of the tower in the 18th century after a fire and a Neo-Gothic wing was built in 1912. The building was used as the Town Hall from the 15th century to the late 19th century. At that time it also served another purpose, such as prison, mint and was used as an armories depository and city archives. Nowadays, it serves as the Municipal Museum depicting the history of Bratislava. Exhibited items include instruments of torture, the old town dungeons, antique weapons and armor, paintings and miniatures. One of the exhibited attractions is a cannonball built into the tower wall, shot by Napoleon’s soldiers in the 19th century. The Old Town Hall is located in the center of the city between the Main Square and the Primate’s Square, next to the Greek and Japanese Embassy. The Town Hall is easily recognized by its colored tile roof.

On the Main Square, it has lovely patterned roof tiles and a cannonball fired by Napoleon’s troops into one of its walls. The Municipal History Museum is here – highlights: instruments of torture and exhibit of paintings and photos showing how the city has changed in the past 150 years.

Old Market

The Old Market (Námestie SNP) in Bratislava is a technical monument. The author was the city engineer Gyula Laubner. The construction was completed on 31 October 1910 as an urban market. It subserved as an urban market over 50 years and as market was abolished in 1960. It served as a television studio until 1982. Nowadays, the market is restored to its original architectural form.

Slovak National Theatre

Slovak National Theatre in BratislavaSlovenské národné divadlo (Slovak National Theatre) is a building in Neo-renaissance style built between 1884 and 1886 that is situated on Hviezdoslavovo námestie (Hviezdoslavovo square). It was designed by Viennese architects F. Fellner and H. Helmer. You can see interesting Ballet or Opera performances there. Ganymede’s fountain is placed in front of the Theatre.

Slovak National Gallery

Slovak National Gallery (SNG) (Riečna 1) is located in the building of the old municipal police at the Danube River, also called the Water Barracks (Rázusovo nábrežie 2), where a “Hygiene Museum” was located during the World War II. The original tetra-wing Baroque disposition, arising from the years 1759-1763, upraised due to the decision of the Royal Hungary chamber of Architecture. The entire south wing was demolished after the year 1940, what has changed its layout to an opened three-wing department. In 1950-1955 it was adapted for the purpose of gallery with minor interior modifications. In 1990 the SNG obtained the Esterházi Palace at the Ľudovít Štúr Square in Bratislava. It is an adjacent multi-storey building, built in 1870-1876 by I.Feigler Jr. On its ground floor was located the legendary café Berlinka, which offers services to the public even today in the “Column Hall”. SNG is an uploaded state art-history, scientific-research and cultural-educational institution. It arose by the law of the Slovak National Council on 29 July 1948. Its founder was a poet, journalist and writer Laco Novomeský, then the Commissioner of Education, Science and Art. Activities of SNG focused on the acquisition, rescue and presentation of cultural heritage in all artistic disciplines, especially in painting, sculpture, drawing and graphics. In 1960 the acquisition activities expanded of applied artifacts and industrial arts. The entire SNG fund consists of about 55,000 works of art centered mainly in the idea of identifying the history of Slovakia, its cultural heritage.

Slovak Parliament

Slovak Parliament, officially known as the National Council of the Slovak Republic is one of the most important places in the city, located on a cliff above the river Danube near the Bratislava Castle. The building of the Parliament has rather practical character than historical, it was built in 1938 proposed by Milan Michal Harmanec. It plays an important role in the functioning of the Slovak Republic. In front of the building stands a large metal statue, constructed by a Slovak sculptor and professor John Kulich. In this sense it is easier to see it than the other parliaments: survey takes place every workday at 14.00 or on request. The Parliament is holding sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. To the building belongs the Parlamentka restaurant that is opened to the public and offers spectacular view of the the valley of the Danube. You can get to the Parliament by a 20-minute walk from the city center or by a public transport (203, 207).

Slavín

The National Cultural Monument SLAVÍN is located upon one of the most beautiful hills above Bratislava and is an important part of panorama of the capital of Slovakia. Joint work of leading Slovak artists was introduced to the public in 1960 as a memorial to the fight against fascism and victims of World War II and to the Red Army soldiers who died during exempted Slovakia. The memorial consists of three organically interconnected parts. The first is the entrance part, starting from the main entrance to the street Na Slavíne with an impressive relief. It shows a group of soldiers swearing on the martial flag. The relief is lined up with a two-wing staircase, which joins into one large. The stairs bring the visitors to the basic scenery, while the central monument is revealing in all its beauty. The second part consists of two-level plateau with graves. The access to them is decorated over two sides with bronze statues of young women couples symbolically saluting and greeting the liberators. The military cemetery consists of six mass graves at two levels and of 317 individual graves around in which 6,845 soldiers were buried together. The access to the main monument is surrounded by two sculptural groups “After the fight” and “Beyond the grave comrades” in over-life-size. The lower part of the actual memorial forms a hall of sacred ceremonies. Walls are decorated with mosaics and the ceiling is decorated with glasscrete window-pane. Above the hall towers a 37 m high pylon and at its top a high statue of “Victory soldiers” is located showing a Red Army putting out a flag as a sign of defeat the enemy. You can get to Slavín by public transport (41, 147, 203 and 207).

Academia Istropolitana

Academia Istropolitana in Bratislava is the oldest university in Slovakia. The nomenclature (adjective Istropolitana) is a Greek word for Bratislava and means Danube City (Ister-Polis). The university was established by Matthias Corvinus in 1465 and meant the beginning of the higher education in Slovakia. Thanks to the request of Matthias Corvinus the pontiff Paul II appointed an archbishop of Esztergom and a bishop of Pecs to establish an university in Hungary. In 1467 a rich citizen Gmaitl died in Bratislava and his houses with the accessories accounted for the King. Matthias Corvinus decided, that these buildings will be used as university buildings so the university took seat in Bratislava. Two years later the university began its activity in four faculties: theological, law, medical and art (philosophy). The university led John Vitéz and George von Schonberg till 1472. After the conquest of Vienna by Matthias Corvinus (in 1485) and after the death of George von Schonberg (in 1486) a gradual decline of the university has begun. It completely stopped its activities sometime in the period 1488-1490, after the death of Matthias Corvinus, who financed the university. Nowadays the original building serves as the seat of the Faculty of Theatre of the Academy of Performing Arts and is one of the seven national treasures located in Bratislava. The building of the university is located at Ventúrska Street.

Pharmacy Salvatore

The Pharmacy Salvatore was founded by archbishop Lippay for his personal needs and in 1658 gave it to the Jesuit order. At that time the pharmacy was housed in the building of the Jesuit college at street Kapitulská. Its name Pharmacy Salvatore, the Most Holy Saviour, got in 1735, when it was auctioned by a pharmacist Charles Sessel. In 1833 the pharmacy moved from the Jesuit college to the street Panská, its new seat became the aristocratic Csáky Palace. All the movables were transferred here, all furniture, the pharmacy set, the pharmacy counter supported by six limestone lions. In 1904 the owner of the pharmacy – the pharmacist Rudolf Adler, built a new building for the needs of the Pharmacy Salvatore. The new building had unusual five floors. Adler placed a stone statue of St. Salvatore by the sculptor Alois Rigel on the building facades. In 1963 the Pharmacy Salvatore was declared as a cultural monument and later was declared the furniture as a movable cultural monument. You can get to the pharmacy by the public transport (1,4,5,9,12,17,28,29,31,37,39,70,80,83,84,88,91,93,94).

Chatam Sofer Mausoleum

Chatam Sofer Mausoleum is the tomb of Chatam Sofer (1762-1836), a Rabbi of Jewish community in Bratislava and a representative of traditional Jewish teachings in Bratislava on the bank of L. Svoboda. It represents a place of pilgrimage of Jews. It was opened in 2002 on the 240th anniversary of his birth. The building is nominated for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage. The Mausoleum is located on the site of the oldest Jewish cemetery in Bratislava, which was founded in the 17th century, when the Pálffy family allowed the Jews to bury their dead near the castle walls. It was used until the year 1847. In 1942, after the great flood, most of the graves were flooded. Only 23 graves and 41 tombstones retained, including the tomb of Rabbi Chatam Sofer. During the World War II, after the construction of the tunnel, it was hidden by the concrete ceilings. Political change in Slovakia in 1989 and funds from Jews around the world allowed the reconstruction of the object. Moving tram lines provided space for the construction of reverence place and the graves were reconstructed. The tomb is entered through the footbridge of the original cemetery, covered with a layer of fine gravel. Footbridge enters to the opened top black prism shaping the tomb. Prism is a symbol of joining the past and the future. Inside the Mausoleum is a room with a glass wall overlooking the sepulchral area for those who are not allowed to enter the cemetery area. A steel staircase leads to the graves, where the pilgrimage ends. The architecture highlights the specificity of the place, which is visited from people all around the world. The visit of the tomb must be ordered in the Jewish community, at least two days before arrival. Entry to the premises of the memorial is possible only with a guide. Chatam Sofer is not possible to visit on Saturday. You can get to the Mausoleum by public transport (1,4,5,9,12,17,28,29,30,31,37,39).

Reduta

Reduta in Bratislava is a building on the street corners Mostova, Palackého and Medená between the Hviezdoslavovo Square and the Square Ľudovíta Štúra. The building was built in 1913-1919 in the place of the old town granary, which was no longer used. The project was created by Budapest architects Dezider Jakab and Marcel Komor, who previously won a tender in 1906. Because of the war, it was being built a long time, some decorative work were not made until 1919. At that time, Reduta was a place for entertainment, variety, various performances and meetings. Various associations such as Association Schlarafia and for many years a cinema Reduta were dwelling there. The building belonged to the town, after World War II it was nationalized and assigned to the Slovak Philharmonic, which is still located there. With its rich ornaments it is compared to Zwinger in Dresden. The façade and the interior are richly decorated with stucco-floral figural ornaments. The façade is divided by a columnar and pilaster rank, graduated with bay. The roof is decorated with gables and turrets. The building of the Reduta has four floors and a basement, were a restaurant, café and a patisserie are placed. The disposal of the building is composite, there is a large hall, small hall, service facilities and administration backgrounds. You can get to the Reduta by the public transport (4,11,12,13,14,17).

Kern House

Kern House was a part of the city walls, later it was a burgess house, in the last century a children patisserie moved in it, then the beer parlor Kelt and now there is an exclusive restaurant Le Monde, offices and luxury apartments. A corner house on Rybárska brána in Bratislava, better known as Kern House, has undergone not only a change of its function, but also comprehensive reconstruction and completion. The building had a gradual development. Originally, at its place stood a two-storey house from the 13th century, which was a part of the city wall fortification. This was assassinated in a demolition of medieval walls in the end of the 18th century. In its place was built a new four-floor burgher house in 1845. Its builder was Ignatius Feigler and was known as the Kern House. Location of the house is one of the best in the entire city – on the corner of the main pedestrian center of the city and Hviezdoslavovo Square, near the Slovak National Theatre, Reduta and the Hotel Carlton. Functional use of the house is adequate to its position in the city. All duties are in the highest quality category. In the house can be found restaurants (the basement Klub, the ground and first floor Le Monde), offices (second a third floor) and apartments (the fourth and fifth floor). The Kern House is accessible by the public transport (1,4,5,9,12,17,28,29,30,31…).

2 Responses to Bratislava Sights

  1. Gloria Hollett June 17, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

    What faith owns St.Martin’s Cathederal?

    [Reply]

    Slovak-Republic.org replies:

    St. Martin’s Cathedral is Roman-Catholic.

    [Reply]

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