Once serving as the capital of the Kingdom of Hungary and hugely influenced by a number of different nations and religions, the Slovakian capital of Bratislava is a melting pot of cultures. Whilst neighbouring Vienna (a shade over 30 miles away) may be lauded as one of the world’s leading cultural lights, the intimate Slovakian city certainly promises its own enchanting discoveries.
To provide a true taste of Danube City (Istropolis) as it was historically known in Greek and Latin, we are going to explore just a few of Bratislava’s many highlights.
Dominating the skyline of the city since the Crown Tower was first constructed in the 13th century; Bratislava Castle’s pristine white walls and red peaks can be seen from almost anywhere in the city, and from neighbouring nations. The natural place to start during a visit; Bratislava Castle is testament to this great country’s potent past.
The castle’s strategic position at the very centre of mainland Europe in a passage between the Carpathians and the Alps, at an important crossing point of the Danube, means the site has always been frequented by the occupying settlers. From the Celts and Romans to the Slavs and powerhouses of the Kingdom of Hungary; Bratislava Castle retains reminders of all its past tenants. And after a comprehensive restoration project, which began in the 1950s, the iconic landmark has been returned to its former glory.
Reduta Bratislava Concert Hall
The 18th century Baroque era concert hall, Reduta Bratislava has been home to the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra for over 65 years. Strikingly ornate and gorgeously proportioned, the concert hall really comes to life when hosting the seasonal concerts of the world class orchestra and other artists.
Located just a stone’s throw from the Danube and opposite the Slovak National Gallery, the Reduta is a popular first call for river cruise guests looking to get a taste of Bratislava’s rich cultural heritage.
Located in Bratislava’s beautiful Old Town region, the 18th century Primatial Palace now serves as the seat for the Mayor of Bratislava, and the famous Hall of Mirrors provides the setting for the city’s council meetings. Formerly the home to archbishops and Slovakian presidents, the palace has played an important role in Slovakia’s recent history.
Perhaps the most notable event in the history of Bratislava’s Primatial Palace was the signing of the fourth Peace of Pressburg – effectively ending the War of the Third Coalition.
St Michael’s Gate
Offering an insight into Bratislava’s past as a walled city, St Michael’s Gate is the only preserved gate of the medieval fortifications. One of the oldest constructions of the city, the gate dates back to the year 1300 (although its current appearance owes more to the Baroque renovations in the 18th century); the gate is named for the archangel, Michael.
Medieval Bratislava was a completely walled city, with entry and exit restricted to four heavily fortified gates – of which, St Michael’s Gate is the sole survivor. Nowhere in the city demonstrates the evolution of Bratislava like St Michael’s Gate – the 700 year old fortification now houses luxury shops, Christian Dior and Swarovski.
Built to commemorate the Soviet Army soldiers who gave their lives in World War II to liberate the city; Slavin is both a memorial site and a cemetery. Located on a hill, in a prosperous part of the capital, Slavin offers stunning views over Bratislava and a sombre but peaceful ambience.
Completed in 1960, Slavin retains a strong Stalinist architectural style and boasts a central solemn hall - housing statues, inscriptions and a striking sarcophagus.
Perched on the banks of the Danube, Bratislava is an ever-popular stop for Emerald Waterways’ ships – enchanting visitors with centuries of history and culture. For more information about river cruises which feature visits to Bratislava, visit our homepage or give us a call on 0808 301 4705.