Three Capitals Trip Part 3/3: Bratislava, Slovakia

We arrive in Bratislava a few hours on, in the early afternoon. The final stop on our trip – also the smallest of the three – we leave the bus at the Most SNP, also known as the UFO bridge. We thought the guides were joking when they first called it this. On a short tour, we explore all the main sights:

  • St Martin’s Cathedral – Dóm Sv. Martina
  • Old Town Hall – Stará radnica
  • Michael’s Gate – Michalska brana
  • Primate’s Palace (and Hall of Mirrors)Primaciálny palác
  • Presidential Palace – Grasalkovičov palác
  • Blue Church (Church of St Elizabeth) – Modrý kostolík, Kék templom
  • Čumil and the Bratislava statues
Michael’s Gate, the only city gate preserved from medieval fortifications. Built in the 14th century and 51m high, it is one of Bratislava’s most famous buildings. Also hosts a Museum of Weapons at the very top.

UFO Bridge & Tower or Most SNP (and a cloudy Bratislava!) viewed from the castle. There is a lift (elevator) to the 95m high deck with a restaurant at the top.
Plenty shower opportunities if needed, like here at Stará radnica.
The Primate’s Palace Primaciálny palác, built by an archbishop in the 18th century, is an expansive Neoclassical building. It is famous for being the site of the signing of the Treaty of Pressburg – the agreement between France & Austria in 1805 which led to the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire. The Hall of Mirrors inside hosted grand balls and now concerts . Open every day expect Mondays.

Cutting through the old town and via all these landmarks, we make the steep climb to the castle, Bratislavský hrad.

Castle Bratislavský  hrad & gardens, of course popular with weddings – like the day we visited.

The weather isn’t so great here. Compared to Vienna and Budapest, which were over 30°C, there’s now a cold wind with the occasional shower. Like Scotland I suppose.

The Presidential Palace, Grasalkovičov palác, is the official residence of the Slovakian President. A Rococo-late Baroque summer palace with a French garden built in 1760, the Palace is not open to the public except during the annual open house (Otvorenych Dveri) where you can meet the President.

We’re mainly still talking and laughing about the night before as we wander around. It’s been an intense trip so everyone’s beginning to tire. We eat on one of the main tourist and restaurant straights: Hviezdoslavovo námestie & Gorkého, which begins at the Holy Trinity column, (Morový stĺp). And catch a free play in the Stará radnica courtyard. Of course, it’s in Slovakian and no-one understands the dialogue. Quite bizarre and surreal, but we follow the first hour and try to build an idea of what’s going on regardless.

The play we ‘watched’
Some traditional Slovakian dishes, like Lokše & Rozok, are very sweet!

Parade through town on the day we were there too.

We manage bit more exploring until we discover a Scottish pub on a main tourist street leading up Sedlárska, so turn in there out the cold. Not the only ones and not for the first time that day!

Rounding off the trip in the Scottish pub – yes, I’m second from the right, still sunburnt from Vienna.

It’s depressing going for the bus later on, just as the city’s nightlife gets under way. Another wild pm2am trip over, basic & brief but glad to say it didn’t disappoint. Again a top adventure and more experiences we’ll always have.

Now a long journey back to Frankfurt station, where we reach the next afternoon. Not the nicest area in Germany, but the good thing about these trips is you can hang around for a while with your new friends until your connection home if you have time to pass. But for me it’s just the obligatory farewell hugs & handshakes and back to Mainz.

Tools & Tips

Bratislava being smaller compared to Vienna & Budapest, it’s easy enough to get around on foot. If needed there are buses, such as to and from the castle.

Other than that, just visit the sights above and take a walk along the nearby Danube. Then grab something to eat/drink on the streets Hviezdoslavovo námestie, Gorkého & Sedlárska which all have plenty of choice.

Look out for the many statues dotted around Bratislava, the most famous being Čumil.

Čumil (literally “The Watcher”) at the junction of streets Laurinská and Panská – though it is uncertain what he is intended to be.

Many others include a Napoleon soldier leaning against a bench, and two girls on a (real and still used) post box.

Schöne Náci – the only silver statue, the rest being bronze.

Random Takeaways

Slovakia has its own language (of course of Slovakian). Though it differs from Czech, they are still understood by speakers of either language. It has always been spoken in the region, but as Communism fell across Europe, Czechoslovakia divided into Czech Republic & Slovakia in 1993. The second language is Hungarian – probably a number of reasons for that.

Having visited Prague the previous year, this completed the European Centrope or ‘Czechaushunvakia’ for me – comprising Slovakia, Austria, Hungary & the Czech Republic (or Czechia now?).

Except for Tallinn, Estonia & St. Petersburg, Russia, this trip was my first taste of ‘Eastern Europe’ – in fact I’ve never been any further east than this.

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Part 1/3: Vienna, Austria

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