Bratislava, Slovakia: A Mixture of European Influences
With a population of over half a million residents, Bratislava is the largest city of the Slovakian Republic. It is situated along the second largest European river, the Danube in Central Europe. The capital city is the center of political, cultural and economic activities in the former socialist state. It has been under the influence of the Celtics and the Ancient Great Roman Empire before the Slavs and Monguls took over. It was also subject to Bohemian, Moravian, Austrian Habsburg monarchy, German, Russian and Hungarian influence. Due to this rich history and mixture of cultural influences, Bratislava has attracted many individuals to visit city, and this includes me.
In my short visit in Bratislava, I have visited several places, and these places are the focus of this blogpost.
1. Bratislava hlavná stanica
This train station is opened over 100 years to connect the Slovakian Republic to the rest of the of the Central European countries, such as Germany, Austria, the neighboring Czech Republic, Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, Poland and other Slovakian cities.
2. Slovenské technické múzeum
The Slovakian Technical museum houses thousands of collections, which serves as the documentation of development of science and technology, specifically on the areas of mining, chemistry and other physical sciences.
3. Prezidentská Záhráda
This is the south side of the Presidential Summer Palace, which is characterized superb architecturally and horticulturally following the French style. Before the World War 2, the garden has been closed for the public.
4. Prezidentský palác
The Presidential Palace or the Grassalkovich Palace is a symmetric rococo building, which currently houses the President of the Slovak Republic. This was built in the 17th century by Grassalkovich, a lawyer and was a Chairman of the Hungarian Royal Chamber.
5. Planéta mieru
This fountain depicting the planet Earth, which weighs 2 tons. The circular tank is made of granite, basalt tiles and stainless steel.
6. Námestie Slòvenského národného povstania
The Square of the Slovak National Uprising, which is located on the Old Town. This rebellion was launched to resist the German occupants and Slovakian collaborator, Jozef Tiso. Although the civic and democratic movement lost, the rebellion was marked historically due to representation of religion, class, age and anti-Nazi political faction in Slovakia.
7. Dom umenia
The Metropolitan Opera is the house of arts in Slovakian nation. It is a multi-purpose building is used for concerts, performances, entertainment, exhibitions and film events.
8. Stará tržnìca
The Old Market Hall or the ancient agora used for almost half a century exists today as a technical monument and was a former television studio building.
9. Primaciálny palác
The Primate Palace is a classical palatial building, which was the sear of the archbishop and currently utilized as the seat of the mayor of Bratislava. The building was built in the 13th century and was the focus of fascination of the Slovakian nation due to its unique architecture and history.
10. Stará radnica
This is the old city hall complex built in the 15th century and today the city’s museum. It was originally built using Gothic architecture and transformed to Renaissance style, which was destroyed by an earthquake in the 16th century.
11. Hlavné námestie
Main square is the centrally located in the old town in Bratislava. In the time of the socialist republic, it was named as the Square of April 4. This is where the celebration of New Year’s Eve and other cultural events are held.
12. Kostol Zvestovania
The Church of the Annunciation and monastery of Franciscan Friars Minor is the considered the oldest preserved religious building in the Slovakian capital city. It was constructed after the Hungarian King won over the Czech King in 12th century.
13. Michalská veža
The Michael Gate is the only preserved city entrance dating back from the Medieval Age. It followed a Baroque architecture. This gate is one of the stops of the coronation of the Hungarian king towards the St. Martin’s Cathedral, where new king will take a pledge to the hands of the archbishop.
14. Kostol sv. Jána z. Mathy
The Trinitarian Church of Bratislava or the formerly the Cathedral of St. John of Matha and Felix of Valois. Today is the cathedral of the armed forces of the Slovak republic. This is one of the few Catholic churches with a central or elliptical floor plan, fitting the three chapels on each side.
15. Kostol Klarisiek
The Clarissine Church is the former Catholic church in Bratislava. The nuns of the Poor Clares founded the church and the convent, after gaining approval from the king. The order was dissolved in 13th century and the building was utilized as a legal academy and school, and today used for concerts and exhibition hall.
16. Kňazský seminár sv. Cyrila a Metoda
The Seminary of St. Cyril and Methodius is a place of learning and pastoral formation of those wanting to be Catholic priests. The seminary is under the administration of the diocese of Bratislava.
17. Dóm sv. Martina
The Cathedral of St. Martin is considered one of the most popular tourist attraction in Bratislava due to its historical significance. It was built by the Hungarian kings, who were responsible for its construction and was expanded by the Czech kings, who overtook the capital.
18. Rybné námestie
The Fisheries Square is the space on the outskirts of the historic old district. In the Middle Ages, the square was bigger but was affected by the construction of the SNP bridge.
19. Most SNP
This is the only bridge in the Slovakian capital across the Danube river. It is said that the design was determined from a competition, but the actual design was taken not from the winner of the competition due to economic reasons. Prior to the construction of the bridge, numerous settlements were demolished, but paved the way of new residential and commercial districts opposite of the river Danube.
20. Žigmundova brána
The Sigsmund’s gate is the best preserved original part of the site, built in the 15th century. This one of the four main entrance gates of the Bratislava Castle. This was named from King Sigismund of the Holy Roman Empire, who decided to build the castle on the current location.
21. Bratislavský hrad
This is the main castle in Bratislava, which consists of a rectangular building with four corner towers, standing on an isolated rocky hill in the Carpathians with good view of Austria, Hungary and Slovakia. The castle was first occupied by Celtics, then the Romans and the Slavs. It was fortified to protect the castle from invading forces, especially during the reign of the Monguls. It was continuously under the contention between the Bohemian or Czech king and the Hungarian king, and was finally resolved during the Holy Roman Empire, when the Bohemia, Moravia and Hungary were ruled by one. During the Habsburg rule of Royal Hungary, Bratislava Castle has been an important symbol of the monarchy.
22. Socha Svätopluka
This is an oversized bronze equestrian statue, the third ruler of the Great Moravia. It is great to note that it is the Moravian empire, who expanded the castle to what it is now.
23. Slovenské národné múzeum
The Slovak National museum is the most important institution focusing on scientific research and culture. It houses collection on natural science and in agriculture.
24. Morový stlp
The Plague Column of the Holy Trinity is a central square in remembrance of the great plague in 17th century which killed significant number of residents in the city.
This is the second largest river in Europe, which runs along Central and Eastern Europe. It was once the frontier of the Roman Empire, passing through the current countries of Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova and Ukraine.
Personally, Bratislava has surprised me a lot in a good way. I never expected such Central European city has a unique charm of its own, unique from its more popular neighboring tourist metropolis, like Vienna, Krakow, Budapest and Prague. I realized I allotted a very short limited time for my trip for Slovakia. Aside from being stranded in suburban Slovakian city on my way to Bratislava, and language difficulties, I could say my trip was memorable that left good impressions to me, encouraging me to go back again to the city.