VISITING BRATISLAVA SLOVAKIA

Today we will be visiting Bratislava Slovakia, the second port of call on our Uniworld cruise on the Danube River. You may recall that we began our cruise in Budapest, Hungary, a place Brad & I really enjoyed.  Everyone’s heard of Budapest, right, but how many folks could find Bratislava, Slovakia on a map? Well, before this trip I’d have had no clue. But can you see Bratislava there on the map below at the intersection of Slovakia, Hungary and Austria? As unknown as it may be to Americans, Bratislava is important because it’s one of the 4 major cities that line the Danube, along with Vienna, Budapest, and Belgrade. In fact, Bratislava and Vienna are the 2 closest capitals in the world, separated by only 41 miles. In an upcoming post I’ll be taking you to magnificent Vienna, but today we will be visiting Bratislava Slovakia.

VISITING BRATISLAVA SLOVENIA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Between 1867 and 1918 Slovakia, Hungary and Austria (all places we visited on our Danube cruise) were part of the same country, which at the time was known as the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  But it was in 1536 that the small town on the Danube known as Bratislava was declared the capital of the Kingdom of Hungary, and became the administration center of the kingdom. It also housed the residence of the King, and was where the Kings of Hungary were crowned in a Coronation Ceremony that is still celebrated today. It was in Bratislava’s St. Martin’s Cathedral that the only woman to have ever become a ruling queen of this empire, who was not the wife of a king, was crowned. She was Maria Theresa, the namesake of our ship, the S.S. Maria Theresa. On June 25, 1741 Maria Theresa was given the title of Queen of Hungary and crowned right here in Bratislava. So it was fitting that our Uniworld Cruise make a stop in this town.

VISITING BRATISLAVA SLOVAKIA | Empress Maria Theresa | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Image Via

In more recent history it was also here at the so called “Triangle Point” (where the borders of the 3 countries meet), that a high barbed-wire fence was erected along with guard towers. This was designed to make traveling to the West impossible for the people of Slovakia during the 40 years of Communist occupation. Remarkably, it was not until 1993 that the city became the capital of the newly formed Slovak Republic and divorced itself from its Communist regime. This isolation I believe is the reason Bratislava, Slovakia is somewhat of an enigma today. It was my observation/feeling that Slovenia still suffers from her stifling 40 years of isolation under communist occupation. Signs of her totalitarian past were evident everywhere. But, while strolling the streets of her Old Town one got the feeling that this place really wants to be cool, new and happening, yet I felt they were still a bit frumpy and uncool, almost as if they were trying to hard.

VISITING BRATISLAVA SLOVAKIA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

We arrived to Bratislava’s Old Town early in the morning, just as the town was beginning to wake up. We entered through Michael’s Gate, the only preserved gate that was part of the original city fortification system dating back to the 14th century.

VISITING BRATISLAVA SLOVAKIA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

The upper terrace of  the gate’s tower you see in the photo below now houses the Museum of Arms. It also affords those visitors willing to climb to the top a great view of the city.

VISITING BRATISLAVA SLOVAKIA | Michael's Gate | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

So join me for a stroll through the cobbled streets of Bratislava’s picturesque Old Town. In the background of the photo below you get a glimpse of Bratislava Castle which dominates a hill above Old Town.

VISITING BRATISLAVA SLOVAKIA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

On the day of our visit, a cool day in mid May, the town seemed to be celebrating some sort of holiday. We were serenaded by a passing marching band called the Moscow Cadets. Not sure if this was a local band or one visiting from Russia?

VISITING BRATISLAVA SLOVAKIA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Here’s a little video of their performance which was quite entertaining.

VISITING BRATISLAVA SLOVAKIA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

And in a city square a stage had been erected where children were putting on an impressive dance performance.

VISITING BRATISLAVA SLOVAKIA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

In fact, the town seemed to be serenading us at every turn. Here a gentleman played the saw, his music leaving much to be desired however.

VISITING BRATISLAVA SLOVAKIA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

One attractive feature of Old Town was it’s many outdoor cafes that lined the promenade. While the pretty tables were set, the establishments were not yet open for business.

VISITING BRATISLAVA SLOVAKIA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

VISITING BRATISLAVA SLOVAKIA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

VISITING BRATISLAVA SLOVAKIA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

VISITING BRATISLAVA SLOVAKIA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

VISITING BRATISLAVA SLOVAKIA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

VISITING BRATISLAVA SLOVAKIA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Eventually we ended up finding this roving Barista who sold us coffee from what truly is the definition of a minivan.

VISITING BRATISLAVA SLOVAKIA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Shops also set up colorful streetside displays.

VISITING BRATISLAVA SLOVAKIA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

VISITING BRATISLAVA SLOVAKIA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

VISITING BRATISLAVA SLOVAKIA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

And there were market stalls selling uninteresting touristy stuff. Sadly, I found nothing of interest to buy while visiting Bratislava Slovakia.

VISITING BRATISLAVA SLOVAKIA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Hidden throughout the streets of the Old Town are 4 unique, life-sized bronze statues. Visitors eagerly seek out the statues, 3 of which we ran across during our visit. The first was a famous local eccentric named Schöne Náci who lived in Bratislava during the first half of the 20th century. He apparently was known for wandering the streets dressed in a suit and top hat and engaging all those he came across.

VISITING BRATISLAVA SLOVAKIA | Schöne Náci | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

This bronze figure of a man peeking out from under a manhole cover is known as Rubberneck. Seems like he would indeed need a “Rubber Neck” to avoid sure decapitation, which I understand has nearly happened from vehicle traffic on the street.

VISITING BRATISLAVA SLOVAKIA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

The 3rd statue we encountered in the city’s main square is described as a Napoleon Soldier. This French army soldier, who apparently bares a striking resemblance to Napoleon himself, leans over a bench in the city center. Napoleon and his troops came to the city in 1805 to sign the Treaty of Pressburg, as Bratislava was then known. It was a treaty between Austria and France following Napoleon’s victories at Ulm and Austerlitz. Napoleon returned again in 1809 when his troops besieged the city.

VISITING BRATISLAVA SLOVAKIA| Napoleon Soldier | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

We visited during the month of May when many towns have May Day celebrations complete with a Maypole. I learned that a Maypole is a tall tree which has been stripped of all of its branches except those at the very top. To these branches Slovaks tie prizes which young men climb up to retrieve.  The Maypoles are left up until June 1st and represent the beginning of Spring.

VISITING BRATISLAVA SLOVAKIA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

Bratislava is a town of churches, interesting doorways and facades of old buildings. As we strolled the streets we encountered a number of them which I’ve captured in the following photos. You can walk Old Town in a matter of a couple of hours, which is all the time we spent visiting Bratislava Slovakia. My honest opinion is that I wouldn’t give it much more time than a day to pretty much see it all. It a nice stop if you’re traveling along the Danube, but I don’t know if I’d spend the night. So, come stroll with me and I’ll show you more of the pretty sights.

VISITING BRATISLAVA SLOVAKIA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

VISITING BRATISLAVA SLOVAKIA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

VISITING BRATISLAVA SLOVAKIA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

VISITING BRATISLAVA SLOVAKIA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

VISITING BRATISLAVA SLOVAKIA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

VISITING BRATISLAVA SLOVAKIA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

VISITING BRATISLAVA SLOVAKIA | www.AfterOrangeCounty.com

I hope you enjoyed your virtual visit to Bratislava. Can you now find it on a map?

If you’d like to plan a wonderful European vacation, contact my valued travel agent, Lori Seeley, who helped us make this trip an amazing one. Phone: 941-312-2584

So there you have it: VISITING BRATISLAVA SLOVAKIA

Thanks so much for dropping in! 

Express Yourself!

No blog post is truly complete without a word from you. I’d be so delighted if you’d leave a comment below. 

All opinions expressed in this post are my own. Unless otherwise noted, all photos are the original property of Celia Becker @ www.AfterOrangeCounty.com and may not be reproduced without specific permission. 

Comments

logo

LET'S SOCIALIZE!

SUBSCRIBE

and be the first to see the latest & greatest from After Orange County

We hate spam and promise to keep your email address safe.