A Brief History of Bratislava
As with much of Europe, the history of Bratislava, as revealed by archeological finds, reaches back to prehistory with the discovery of specimens of proto-homo sapiens living during the copper and bronze ages. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Bratislava The city is thought to have obtained it name during the 10th century during the period of an emerging medieval Hungary.
Bratislava Castle https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bratislava_Castle , built on the remains of a Roman settlement, is at the center of Europe: at the confluence of the Carpathians and the Alps, trade routes from the Balkans (Adriatic Sea) to the Rhine or Baltic Sea, and an important ford used to cross the Danube River. From the castle, one has a panoramic view of Bratislava and the Danube.
Maria Theresa is one person who links Vienna with Bratislava. When she became queen of the Kingdom of Hungary in 1740, she spent much time living in the Bratislava Castle and improved the system supplying water, added a kitchen and servants quarters, and redesigned the stairways with a lower gradient to allow her access by horseback. Today, the castle houses exhibitions of the Slovak National Museum, and presentation rooms for the president. Of note is the coronation of Maria Theresa June 25, 1741 in St. Michael’s Cathedral. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Martin%27s_Cathedral,_Bratislava
Today, Bratislava, a town of nearly 433,000, has been the capital of Slovakia since 1969, which borders Hungary to the south and Austria to the west. It is welcoming to tourists and a pleasure to visit on foot. From the Castle terraces, one has a panoramic view of the city and the Danube River. Taking a commanding position in the skyline of Bratislava is St. Martin’s Cathedral, the largest, and oldest in Bratislava, and the coronation church of the Kingdom of Hungary from 1563 – 1830.
As we cruised from Budapest to Bratislava, we learned from our Tour Directors what was in store for us when be will arrive in Vienna, followed by a champagne brunch in the Compass Rose Dining Room.
Our first activity in Bratislava involved a visit to Devin Castle. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dev%C3%ADn_Castle where a welcoming ceremony was held with much pageantry and fanfare. In fact, our grandson, Mason, was invited to drum us into the games which involved the forty-four children traveling with us to shoot a cross-bow, joust, practice hand eye coordination to split a dangling apple, and reassemble a suit of armor. We all watched the adult reinactors sword fight. After viewing the video below, return to the blog by “x” out/closing the page”Mason Drumming”
Video taken by Tracie Barrett, Mason’s mother.
We were treated to a simulated but convincing sword fight.
At the conclusion of the games, our most brave team member, Mason, was Knighted!
The games completed, we hiked to the ruins of Devin Castle. This site overlooks the confluence of the Danube and Morava rivers and thus was an important point from which to control trade. The castle overlooks the border of Slovakia with Austria which, during Nazi occupation, formed a part of the “Iron Curtain” border between the Eastern Bloc and the West. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dev%C3%ADn_Castle
This afternoon, we were treated to a walking tour of Bratislava, followed by free time until happy hour on board the Swiss Jewel.
The Main Square of Old Town is anchored by the Roland Fountain, the most famous in Bratislava, topped by a statue of Maximilian in full armor. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roland_Fountain Behind the fountain lies the Old Town Hall which has a cannon ball imbedded into its wall. At one time, properties having such ordinance was free of taxation until property owners began implanting their buildings to avoid taxation. My pictures of this landmark are from our 2013 trip.
Surrounding the square are buildings with history, including the Old Town Hall, displaying a cannon ball imbedded into its wall. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Town_Hall_(Bratislava)
This is the Primate’s Palace, now the mayor’s office. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primate%27s_Palace
I have introduced you to Bratislava Castle and its history, in particular as it is connected the Maria Theresa. During our free time to explore Bratislava, I hiked up Castle Hill to obtain the following:
Please refer to the reference to St. Michael’s Cathedral, above. Of note is the crown topping the spire.
Then I roamed around town to collect a few pictures of the al fresco atmosphere of the city.
This shot includes Michael’s gate tower, built in the 1300’s, which ranks among the oldest structures in Bratislava. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael%27s_Gate
One of the modern symbols of the city is Restaurant UFO, a restaurant in the shape of a flying saucer atop the bridge SNP . http://www.bratislavahotels.com/favourites/restaurant-ufo/ This shot was taken in 2013 and is fuzzy: taken from a moving bus.
Well, the day isn’t over yet. Following a sumptuous supper on board ( all meals were over the top ), we were treated to Slovakian folk music and dancing.
For other activities in Bratislava, check out the visitors Bureau link. http://visit.bratislava.sk/en/vismo/zobraz_dok.asp?id_org=700014&id_ktg=1027&p1=1587
And now, off to Vienna for an overnight cruise.