Danube provides backdrop to city’s wealth of history

August 27, 2014

 

Danube

MIGHTY RIVER: This is a view from a boat on the way to Devin Castle on the River Danube.

Museum View

PANORAMIC VIEW: This is the view on the Main Square from the observation balcony of the Bratislava City History Museum.

Presporatryk

TOURIST TRAM: This is the red Prešporáčik tourist car that takes tourists on a guided tour of the Old Town.

 

001

WATER FEATURE: The fountain in the Main Square, that shows a statue of St George and the Dragon.

 

Namestie

SQUARE VIEW: Looking down on the Main Square from the top of the City History Museum.

 

A & M @ Slavin

GALLIC FLAIR: The chap I’m leaning on is called Napoleon’s Army Soldier. The aim of the statue is to indicate to visitors what sort of hat Napoleon wore on his visit to the city in 1805.

 

BRATISLAVA in Slovakia is the only national capital in Europe that borders two countries.

It is only 62 kilometres from the Czech border and  60 kilometres from Vienna in Austria. The River Danube meanders through the city travelling from the west to the south east.

For a capital city, it is unusual to be walking around and not feel that you are crammed in like a tin of sardines, and on the back streets it is possible to find yourself totally quiet for a few minutes. Compared to London, it is bliss and much cleaner.

The Middle Danube basin begins at the Devin Gate and the Morava River joins the Danube on the north-western edge of the city in the Bratislava borough of Karlovo Ves.

The Bratislava catchment of Slovakia is the most prosperous part of the country and it accounts for 26 per cent of the country’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and is home to to the country’s largest businesses and finance institutions

The Old Town hosts some of the city’s most cherished architectural heritage and this includes the St Michael’s Gate, the Bratislava Museum and the City History Museum in the Old Town Hall.

I’m not really an army anorak but the Museum of Arms within Michael’s Tower holds a lot of uniforms going back through the last two centuries, including the Austro-Hungarian empire. I discovered that there were Slovak and Czech divisions that participated on both the Western and Eastern fronts during World War One.

On the top floor is an entrance to the balcony of St Michael’s Gate tower, offering a view of the historical part of Bratislava and its surroundings.

Formerly known as Upper Hungary, Slovakia was previously part of a huge empire. The gothic St Martin’s Cathedral was formerly the seat where former kings of Hungary was crowned.

The Grassalkovich Palace is the residence of the Slovak president and was built around 1760, making it over 250 years of age.

I took the local Tourist train Prešporáčik in the Old Town and it takes tourists round the Old Town visiting all the old streets. It is so bright red that you can’t fail to notice it and our guide  took great delight in observing the statue Cumil.

He dates back to 1997 as one of a series of statues strategically placed to lighten the mood of the city following the collapse of Communism. He is lucky to have his head still in place as several drivers have crashed into him, so he has his own sign saying ‘Man At Work’.

He looks like a First World War soldier crawling out of a sewer to see what is above him before pulling himself out. The guide insisted he is there motionless because he is fascinated looking up ladies’ skirts.

A Czech friend of mine highlighted on a recent trip to the UK, she was staying in Scotland and happened to pass through Loch Ness. This is immediately triggered my memory cells when I stumbled across the Loch Ness pub near the Main Square and it enabled me to make a point of contact in case I got lost – anyway I didn’t have to direct myself to the Tourist Information Centre as an item of lost property.

With my Slovak host in tow, we spent much of the time using the tram system which was on-time and very easy to use and it links up with all the different parts of the city with relevant comfort and ease.

Bratislava Castle sits on a plateau 85 metres above the Danube and was originally a hill fort inhabited between the Stone and Bronze Ages. It was re-built in a baroque style in 1642 having previously been a Renaissance Castle and became a royal seat under Queen Maria Theresa. In 1811 after being destroyed by fire, it was left derelict for 140 years and was restored to its former Theresian style.

 

 

 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Rebecca Goodlad August 28, 2014 at 10:15 am

Thank you Matt for an interesting blog on Bratislava. It is certainly worth a visit.

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