Bratislava

Slovakia’s capital Bratislava is a rather pleasant place, very walkable (though watch out for the trams!), with enough to see to fill a day (if little more).

The obvious place to start is with Bratislava Castle. Incredibly there have been fortifications on this site since 3500BC, but the current buildings date from since the 1960s, replacing ruins from a fire in 1811. The formal gardens before the tour groups arrived were peaceful, as were the views of the city.

To the north east of the Old Town (near the giant Tesco) there was some fabulous street art on the side of buildings.

Close by was this seemingly abandoned building, but at least they’d painted the windows in an interesting pattern.

Understandably there wasn’t any street art in the Old Town itself, but this Man At Work statue was quite entertaining.

Less entertaining was the sober Slavín Monument, dedicated to Soviet soldiers who died capturing Bratislava from the Nazis. It was a calm place, offering panoramic views of the surrounding city.

As expected there are plenty of churches in Bratislava. The most colourful is the Church of St. Elisabeth, understandably nicknamed The Blue Church.

The neighbouring Grösslingová High School is built in a similar style.

The largest is St. Martin’s Cathedral, which was used for nearly 300 years as the coronation church for the Kingdom of Hungry (which Slovakia was part of for a millennium). It had some wonderful wooden carvings.

While much smaller than Prague’s Old Town, Bratislava’s is equally filled with wonderful building, the oldest being Michael’s Gate with Tower, while others that caught my eye included the Slovak National Theatre.

There are plenty of palaces around, many converted to art galleries, but my favourites were the pink Primate’s Palace, and the impressive Grassalkovich Palace, which is still used by the government.

For a complete contrast the UFO tower is a landmark just across the river from the Old Town.

To end with a good short trip out of the city to Devín Castle, 20 minutes away by bus 29 (runs every 20 minutes). One of the oldest castles in Slovakia, dating in parts from the 9th century, it is right on the border with Austria (which is the other side of the Morava River which runs into the Danube). There are atmospheric ruins to explore, with great views in all directions.

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