A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about bratislava

Bratislava Castle and Old Town architecture

Bratislava


View Teaching and Travelling Abroad on 3Traveller's travel map.

My only destination today ended up being the castle. I left the hostel with more energy I'd felt since arriving in Basel on the 26th, but this turned out to be premature, because the energy drained out of me on my walk up Castle Hill and has not yet returned.

On my way to Castle Hill I passed St Martin's Cathedral and unexpectedly came across a plaque to Imrich Lichtenfeld, the founder of the martial art Krav Maga and a defender of his Jewish neighbourhood against Fascist gangs in the late 1930s.

75883e70-3930-11ed-8f71-631e718bd255.JPG75ce4820-3930-11ed-8f71-631e718bd255.JPG

There were some fantastic views of the city and the Danube as I went up Castle Hill.

IMG_1617.JPGIMG_1619.JPG027e3f10-3d8b-11ed-937d-91cf22af1b42.JPG016e55b0-3d8b-11ed-937d-91cf22af1b42.JPG015a3170-3d8b-11ed-9bb7-574a00b45210.JPG

However, it was sobering to see the controversial Bridge of the Slovak National Uprising (more commonly known as the UFO Bridge due to its flying saucer-shaped observation deck/ restaurant). It's controversial because when it was built in 1972, nearly all of the Jewish Quarter in the Old Town was demolished to create the roadway leading to it.

20e66800-3d8c-11ed-9bb7-574a00b45210.JPG01abd3e0-3d8b-11ed-937d-91cf22af1b42.JPG01a40bb0-3d8b-11ed-9bb7-574a00b45210.JPGIMG_1624.JPG

The castle was a rather odd experience, mainly because over five public floors about 70-80% of rooms available to walk through were empty, and some others were no entry at all. At times it felt a bit like I was trespassing, although I'd had my ticket checked on entry and after that nobody said anything to me. There were very few other people apart from me inside.

IMG_1622.JPGIMG_1628.JPG

The ground floor had only the cloakroom and some information about the reconstruction/ refurbishment of the castle. The first floor had the redone music room/ chapel and two rooms which were completely empty except for an antique painted wooden cabinet in one and two large oil paintings and an antique grandfather clock (without the pendulum) in the other. No information given about any of them.

e937afd0-3d8c-11ed-a48d-515ea804fbcf.JPG

The second floor had an interesting one-room exhibition of historic prints, watercolours and woodblock prints of the city of Bratislava (known apparently as Pressburg in the 18th and 19th centuries) from the 17th to the early 20th centuries.

e95e98c0-3d8c-11ed-9bb7-574a00b45210.JPGea1ba730-3d8c-11ed-b13c-17ad4505d329.JPG

The third floor had an exhibition on the part students, artists, musicians and other activists had to play in the Slovak equivalent of the Czech Velvet Revolution, which together caused the downfall of Communism in then-Czechoslovakia in November 1989. It felt a bit strange to think that this momentous historical occasion happened in my lifetime, albeit when I was too young to hear about or remember it.

The third floor also had the entrance to the steps up the original tower, so I went up. Nice panoramic views from the windows, though they were quite small.

I finished up with a look round the basement, as it promised me an exhibition about the Celts in Bratislava and other places in Western Slovakia. Although a bit amateurishly presented, and small, it did have some interesting exhibits, such as gold and silver coin hoards, bone dice, skeletal remains (both human and of the animals they ate), an engraving/scratching of a pig, a tiny metal figure of a dog, and glass, metal, amber and bone jewellery and other personal objects.

dae9a8f0-3d8e-11ed-bfb0-ab5ae5534e06.JPGIMG_1644.JPGIMG_1645.JPGIMG_1650.JPGIMG_1657.JPGIMG_1651.JPGIMG_1654.JPG

After leaving the main building I re-admired the views over the Danube and the rest of the city. The sun had come out, though it was still very chilly, with biting winds.

IMG_1666.JPGIMG_1670.JPGIMG_1672.JPGIMG_1664.JPGIMG_1662.JPGIMG_1669.JPG

I made the decision then not to go on a day trip the next day, as I felt so sapped of energy, but rather give the City Museum within the Old Town Hall another chance to have their tower open, and to go to the Jewish Museum as well.

Pleased at having made the decision, I decided to go back to the hostel a different way to the one I'd come. The architecture and cobbled streets of the historic centre are a sight to behold, even in chilly February. Similar to Graz, though smaller.

IMG_1673.JPGIMG_1677.JPGIMG_1679.JPGIMG_1683.JPGIMG_1681.JPGIMG_1686.JPGIMG_1687.JPG

On an impulse, after seeing someone leave and thus realising it was open, I popped into the 17th century Protestant-turned-Jesuit church next to the Old Town Hall. Lots of marble, and a large oil painting above the altar.

Posted by 3Traveller 11:26 Archived in Slovakia Tagged bridges churches bratislava museum slovakia fortifications river_danube Comments (0)

Museums and a Soviet war memorial

Bratislava


View Teaching and Travelling Abroad on 3Traveller's travel map.

Since I still felt very drained and cough-ridden today, I took it quite easy again.

I started with what I didn't manage yesterday; the Arms Museum, held round the corner within St Michael's Gate, and the historic Red Crayfish Pharmacy Museum, a couple of doors down from there.

Both are tiny and handily share the same ticket; entrance to one gives you free entry to the other. I went to the Arms Museum first. I admired their collection of pistols, giant metal 'speaking trumpet', Central European, Moroccan, Middle Eastern, Indian and Japanese daggers and swords, Central European huntsman's bag and stag- and cattle-horn powder flasks, and Austro-Hungarian armour, drum, uniforms and field-glasses.

IMG_1560.JPGIMG_1537.JPG2bee4830-3832-11ed-8cf6-cf8ef7aa6cc4.JPGIMG_1542.JPG2be03e70-3832-11ed-9b48-29bfdf05a1c1.JPG2c8a6120-3832-11ed-84d7-411d821256ee.JPGIMG_1552.JPG2b3bc110-3832-11ed-9b48-29bfdf05a1c1.JPGIMG_1549.JPG

I also walked round the viewing platform at the top of the gate, managing not to get blown off in the process (it was an extremely windy day today). Intriguingly, when looking down on one side, I noticed small coins in the copper gutters below, and that the gutter ends were shaped like dragons.

19405050-3839-11ed-8f4b-2b36454e8d06.JPG39441d50-3839-11ed-8f4b-2b36454e8d06.JPGIMG_1556.JPGIMG_1555.JPG

The Pharmacy Museum didn't have the dried pufferfish and bats, collections of exotic biological and mineral materials, or historic medical texts which I've seen in other pharmacy museums, but it was still interesting to have a look at its collection of wooden cabinets and ceramic, wooden, glass and tin jars, and I admired the painted ceiling in the main room. After taking a photo of a wooden cabinet near the start, I was told that photos weren't allowed, so I didn't get any of the rest of the interior, though I did get ones of the exterior; the metal crayfish sign and the historic metal gates.

IMG_1563.JPGIMG_1565.JPGIMG_1566.JPG

After that my intention had been to go to the castle, but I was so lacking in energy I decided to leave that until the next day, when the weather is due to be better in any case, and just wander round the City Museum this afternoon instead. It's held within the beautiful Old Town Hall, practically on my hostel's doorstep. After a decent sit-down at the hostel, I walked over. However, the lady at the ticket desk told me that although the main part of the museum was open, the tower was closed today (due to the strong winds, I assume), so since I didn't want to miss going up it, I decided to leave the museum until the next day as well.

3173fd10-3844-11ed-a6d3-3fb8aefe49c7.JPGIMG_1568.JPG

After then finding out that the majority of the Slovakian National Gallery is under refurbishment and/or having new exhibitions installed, I settled on something a bit different; the site of Slavín, the largest war memorial and cemetery in Europe.

560476c0-3847-11ed-883c-f1092a56a857.JPG6378d490-3847-11ed-883c-f1092a56a857.JPGIMG_1574.JPGIMG_1580.JPGIMG_1575.JPG

I assume they mean the largest in terms of numbers buried there, because I'm sure some of the WWI cemeteries I saw in France and Belgium were bigger in terms of site size. This one contains the bodies of nearly 7000 Soviet soldiers who died in April 1945 during the liberation of Bratislava from the Nazi forces who were occupying the city. The statue on the memorial column shows a Soviet soldier crushing a swastika underfoot.

040f0090-384e-11ed-ac45-2dcd3c4aec08.JPG02c1c010-384e-11ed-ac45-2dcd3c4aec08.JPGIMG_1589.JPG03d049e0-384e-11ed-ac45-2dcd3c4aec08.JPGIMG_1592.JPG061b2440-384e-11ed-8845-3525907dabcd.JPGIMG_1595.JPG026dd3b0-384e-11ed-ac45-2dcd3c4aec08.JPG

The memorial/cemetery lies on a hill, so there were some impressive views of the city. Very cold and windy, though, and the setting of course was sombre.

IMG_1600.JPGIMG_1577.JPG0534bbe0-384e-11ed-ae12-15a301837b63.JPGIMG_1602.JPG04c6dee0-384e-11ed-ac45-2dcd3c4aec08.JPGIMG_1591.JPG

Posted by 3Traveller 15:29 Archived in Slovakia Tagged bratislava museum slovakia soviet_monument Comments (5)

St Martin's Cathedral and the Blue Church

Bratislava


View Teaching and Travelling Abroad on 3Traveller's travel map.

I had a quiet first day in Bratislava today. After quite a long lie-in, I went round the corner to St Michael's Gate. It was chilly and overcast outside, though not wet.

IMG_1440.JPGIMG_1449.JPGIMG_1442.JPGIMG_1443.JPGIMG_1446.JPGIMG_1445.JPG

My aim was to visit the tiny Arms Museum within the Gate, then the equally small Pharmacy Museum a couple of doors down. I'd forgotten that museums are nearly always closed on Mondays, however - so I decided to go tomorrow morning instead.

From there I slowly made my way to St Martin's Cathedral. As I have done all day, I felt very drained and lacking in energy. I still have my cough, too. On my way to the cathedral I passed lots of lovely architecture and two intriguing sculptures; one of a man coming out of the pavement, manhole cover pushed to one side, and another of a melancholy-looking Hans Christian Andersen with a giant snail at his feet.

b6c44a20-2c95-11ed-abb5-834e2a2d3c9f.JPGIMG_1453.JPGIMG_1466.JPGb75fede0-2c95-11ed-b2ef-512fec412165.JPGIMG_1458.JPGIMG_1460.JPGIMG_1461.JPGIMG_1467.JPGIMG_1470.JPGIMG_1472.JPGIMG_1464.JPG

I'd got up so late it was now lunchtime, so I had some potato and cheese dumplings with chopped fresh chives on top from a street stall. My appetite wasn't as big as I thought it was, though, so although I liked the dumplings I wasn't able to finish them.

IMG_1456.JPG

St Martin's Cathedral was definitely worth visiting, despite being smaller than most. It's three-nave, Gothic, and dates from the 15th century. It was the seat of coronation for the Hungarian kings from then up until the 19th century. I lit a candle when I first came in, then wandered around for a while. Amongst other things, I admired the Baroque Chapel of St John the Almsgiver (John the Merciful) and a famous equestrian statue of St Martin in typical Hungarian hussar dress, dividing his cloak to give to a beggar.

IMG_1487.JPGIMG_1474.JPGIMG_1475.JPGIMG_1486.JPGIMG_1484.JPGIMG_1478.JPG

Although the tower was closed, by paying to see the tiny Treasury I got to go up to platform at the back where the organ is and the choir sit, so I got a good view internally at least.

IMG_1494.JPGIMG_1492.JPG

There were some more beautiful street scenes on my way to my next stop (Tesco). A couple of interesting wall paintings on one of the buildings caught my eye.

IMG_1496.JPGIMG_1497.JPGIMG_1501.JPGIMG_1499.JPGIMG_1500.JPG

I went to Tesco to see how it differs to the British version and to get something to have for dinner later. I thought some extra vitamin C would be a good idea, so I got two tins of mandarins in juice in addition to a filled wrap and a pot of rice pudding.

My last stop was St Elizabeth's Church, more commonly known as the Blue Church. This Art Nouveau wonder is definitely well worth the accolades! It certainly lives up to its name, although it isn't 100% blue, especially on the inside.

IMG_1505.JPGIMG_1509.JPGIMG_1511.JPG

As I entered and sat down to rest, a voice started chanting something over a sound system, and four or five old ladies in other pews replied. This chanting and responding continued the whole time I was there - never a physical sign of the person chanting or of any other person working for the church. I thought it discreet to go to the back before taking photos - luckily I wasn't the only tourist there, so I didn't stand out too much.

IMG_1525.JPGIMG_1521.JPGIMG_1520.JPGIMG_1519.JPG

It was dark by the time I left. I admired the Old Town Hall all lit up on my way back to my hostel for dinner and an early night.

IMG_1532.JPG

Posted by 3Traveller 19:12 Archived in Slovakia Tagged churches art bratislava cathedral slovakia slovakian_cuisine Comments (1)

Multi-country journey from Basel to Bratislava

Basel, Strasbourg and Bratislava


View Teaching and Travelling Abroad on 3Traveller's travel map.

Very late in the evening I safely made my way from the hotel to the Flixbus stop for the first leg of my journey to Bratislava: a couple of hours on the bus to Strasbourg, where I had a four-hour changeover in the middle of the night. There wasn't anywhere to go inside, but I managed to find a covered area on one side of the bus stop area with a seat where I could set up camp for the next few hours and stay dry if it started to rain. I could see that we were close to a bridge over a river - it would have been nice to walk round a bit and explore if it hadn't been between 1 and 5 a.m. and I didn't have anywhere safe to leave my big case. Instead, I kept myself awake by reading and, at a couple of points around 4 a.m., by blearily trying to dredge up some French from 20 years ago to use in response to an old lady who had come up and started asking me things....

The bus to Bratislava came on time and left Strasbourg at 05:10. The journey took 13 hours but there were no issues and time passed relatively quickly. We made stops at Karlsruhe, Stuttgart, Munich and Vienna, plus the occasional service station. At the stop in Vienna the coach went through the coach wash while we were inside - something I hadn't experienced before.

On arrival in Bratislava I found my way to the magnificently-named Wild Elephants Hostel pretty easily, admiring the architecture as I went. It was about 7 p.m. by the time I'd got settled into my dorm, and I was too knackered to go out again, so I made snacks leftover from the bus trip my dinner and after going online for a bit, got an early night.

Posted by 3Traveller 11:40 Archived in Slovakia Tagged bratislava france austria germany hostel buses switzerland slovakia Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 4 of 4) Page [1]