HYDERABAD: Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, is the little big city with a celebrated history. Pulsating with life and culture, it is one of the youngest capitals in the world. Bordering Austria and Hungary, with Danube and Marava rivers on either side, Bratislava is a cosmopolitan metropolis with many attractions, but here I focus on its architecture.
The legendary castle is a massive rectangular building in the middle of the city, perched on the hill top, directly above the Danube River. Now a museum, it is filled with historical treasures century old beautiful jewellery and antique furniture. On a clear day, from the Castle, you will enjoy breathtaking views, overlooking three countries – Slovakia, Austria and Hungary.
This imposing 13th century Red Stone Castle, was given to many noble families who supported the king. Rebuilt several times, catering to the individual needs of occupants, undergoing different styles of architecture, today it is a museum. Beautiful Baroque interiors, Rococo, Empire style and Renaissance furniture, made of mahogany, walnut and poplar veneer, European and Turkish weapons are worth a visit.
Old Town Walking Tour
A romantic stroll through its medieval old town is highly rewarding. The most distinguished musicians and historical figures lived here, in a blend of Baroque, Rococo, Gothic, Renaissance and nineteenth-century style houses, some of which have been converted into cafes, restaurants or wine bars. Sit on a bench with bronze-cast Napoleon looking over your shoulder, sip coffee and take in the view. Pose with the statue of Schone Naci, grandson of a famous clown, a Bratislava legend, who cheered people on the roads for forty years.
The Neoclassical Primate’s Palace is famous for its Hall of Mirrors, where Napoleon and the Austrian emperor signed the Peace of Pressburg (renamed Bratislava).
Presently, the seat of Mayor of Bratislava, the palace boasts a series of six tapestries, which were found behind a wall during a reconstruction in 1903.
St. Martin’s Cathedral: Coronation Church
The largest and one of the oldest churches in Bratislava, it is an imposing Gothic construction where 19 royal coronations took place between the mid-1500s and the early 1800s.
The tower is capped by a replica of the Hungarian Crown resting on a gilded pillow. The equestrian statue of St. Martin on the altar in a typical Hungarian Hussar dress depicts him dividing a part of his cloak, to give a beggar as protection from the cold. Historic coronations are staged here, for the tourists in summer.
St. Michael’s Gate
The only preserved City Gate from medieval fortifications, dating back to 13th century. The Hungarian kings, after the coronation at St. Martin’s, would stop at St. Michael’s Gate and take the oath. Currently holds the Museum of weapons in Bratislava. Reach the balcony on the sixth floor of the tower to get a magnificent view of the Old City, the Castle, and surrounding areas. Walk along the luxury shops and restaurants under St. Michael’s gate, supposed to be one of the most expensive streets in Central Europe.
The author Vijay Pratap blogs at vijayaprataptravelandbeyond.com