Bratislava - jewel on the river Danube
I was 18 years old when I visited Bratislava for the first time. I finished gymnasium and dreamed about going to the university, but my family didn't have money to support my studies. I bought a train ticket, packed most of my belongings, left my family and friends and started to work on my dreams. I spent whole summer working in Bratislava. I took any job that was given to me by the agency.
I worked in a warehouse, a shopping mall, a printing company, or a supermarket. I had many night shifts as well, so I was very often tired, but I enjoyed my life there so much. It was for the first time that I wasn't depending on my family. I had my own money and I could do whatever I wanted with it. I met many new friends, went to parties every weekend and explored the city that became my home for 3 months. I have so many fond memories of this place and I enjoy coming back at least once a year as I still have many friends living there.
Last year, I visited one of my friends and spent the weekend at her place. We were talking for hours as we had many life updates, but we found some time to go out and decided to follow the typical tourist route of the city. It was like being on vacation and we had a lot of fun.
We started our tour at the Presidential Palace. The palace is also known as the Grassalkovich Palace and it is situated on Hodžovo námestie. It was built in 1760 by Antal Grassalkovich in late baroque style. It became the center of the high society and it was even visited by the Empress Maria Theresa. It is unfortunately not open to public, so we were not able to go inside. There is usually only one day in June when you can see the interiors too, so you would be lucky to be there around that time.
It is the official seat of the president of Slovakia, but she doesn't live there. However, there is still a guard in front of the palace. If you're lucky you can see a periodic change of the guards in the front yard too.
In the back of the palace there is a presidential garden that became the most popular park in the city. It reminds me of the parks that I've seen in Paris. An interesting fact about the garden is that many famous politicians planted a tree there as a symbol of cooperation and friendship with Slovakia.
From the presidential garden we walked in the direction of the Michael's Gate. On the way, we walked by the Franciscan church consecrated to the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary. This is the oldest preserved religious building in Bratislava. It was consecrated in 1297 and it had seen many historical events. One of the most important events that happened in this church was the coronation of the Hungarian king Ferdinand the Habsburg. This was the beginning of the Habsburg monarchy in this region which lasted for almost 400 years.
MUSEUM OF THE CITY OF BRATISLAVA
Before we reached the Michael's Gate, we visited the Museum of the city of Bratislava which is located in the Old Town Hall at the main square. It holds interesting exhibitions where you can learn all about the history of Bratislava. It documents the history from medieval ages up to today. It was founded in 1868 and you will be fascinated by its interior. There is so much detail in its architecture and you should visit it even though you don't like history that much. You won't be disappointed.
And here we are, finally looking at the Michael's Gate, so let's go inside!
Michael's Gate, situated in the heart of the city, is the last gate of Bratislava's historic walls and it's also one of the city's symbols. It used to mark the entrance to the city. The ** 51 meters** tall tower was built in the 14th century. When you climb up all of its 7 floors you will be rewarded with beautiful views of the city.
And why is it called 'Michael's Gate'? There is a statue of the archangel Michael fighting the dragon and this is how the gate got its name. One interesting fact about the tower is the kilometer zero which is a golden circle under the tower. It is a marker for measuring the distance to other capital cities in the world. Take some time and find yours! Then you will know how far it is from where you are standing.
Inside of the tower is the Museum of Arms. You can see here some historic weapons, uniforms and equipment. It is an interesting exposition and glimpse of the history of the country's army.
Here you can see the view from the tower.
Our next stop was the Hviezdoslavovo námestie with its modern art exhibition. The square is located between the Slovak National Theater and the New Bridge. There are many cafes, restaurants and clubs at the square and it is always very busy here.
These sculptures are provocative and they don't seem to fit in the city but you somehow get used to them and then you can't imagine the city without them.
Can you see that fence in the back? This is the American Embassy building and I think that this explains everything.
This statue is called Off Duty and it was created by Richard Keťko.
There are so many street artists in Bratislava.
You can see human statues, various performances, singers, dancers, or this kind of levitating performers. I was never interested in their secret, but I find it cool that it looks real.
In the past, there was not such a large variety of street performances but with more and more tourists it became so normal that when you live there you don't even pay attention to them anymore.
I actually like it as it helps to build the right summer atmosphere. They are colorful, bright and very often also very loud. These things belong to summer and I only hope that they pay taxes like the rest of us 😊
And now let's go to our right stop - the castle!
The castle is situated on top of the hill above the river Danube. You can see it from almost every corner of the old town. It was built in the 9th century and it is one of the most popular landmarks of Bratislava.
In the past, the castle used to serve as the formal seat of the kings of Royal Hungary. 11 kings and 8 queens were crowned here. In the 17th century it was extensively reconstructed by the Empress Maria Theresa and it became a representative palace.
The castle for seriously damaged by fire in 1811 and it was left in ruins. After the World War II, it was renovated, and it gained back its past importance. During the years, many important documents were signed here, e.g. the document that established the Czechoslovak Federation or our constitution of independent Slovakia just to name a few.
I remember that when I saw the castle for the first time back in 2004, I thought that it urgently needed some renovation. It looked dirty and there was such a strange smell here. I still remember it like it was today.
A few years later, the renovation too place. The facade was changed completely, it was made more accessible and it really looks nice now.
And here is one evening shot of the castle. This photo is not manipulated. I have never seen such a sunset before.
I hope that you have enjoyed our tour of Bratislava.
Thank you for visiting!