While in Vienna, we booked a day excursion to Bratislava, the capital city of Slovakia, and one of Europe's newest capitals. I was curious to visit Slovakia, which was part of Czechoslovakia, until January 1, 1993, when the self-determined split occurred and Czechoslovakia became two countries: Czech Republic (or Czechia) and Slovakia.
From Vienna, it takes about an hour by car to reach Bratislava. The historic Old Town of Bratislava can be covered on foot in a couple of hours. Below is my Top 10 sights in charming Old Town Bratislava. Click to enlarge the pictures.
1. Bratislava Castle, the landmark overlooking the capital, was built in the 9th century. It stands on a hill above the Danube river. Its silhouette is created by four wings, each with a corner tower. The castle has undergone several redesigns in its history.
2. St. Martin's Cathedral, the largest and one of the oldest churches in Bratislava, situated below Bratislava Castle. The Gothic cathedral, begun in 1204, and reconsecrated in 1445, was restored in 1861-80. The tower is surmounted by a pyramid bearing a gilded Hungarian royal crown. The cathedral is famous mostly as the coronation place of the Kingdom of Hungary between 1563 and 1830. It held nineteen coronations (eleven kings and eight queens), and Queen Maria Theresa was one of the crowned people.
|St. Martin's Cathedral, Bratislava|
3. Michael's Gate and Tower: Michael's Gate is the only city gate that has been preserved of the medieval fortifications and the last standing gate in Bratislava. Its history dates back to the 13th century. The statue of St. Michael and the Dragon was placed on its top. The gate's tower is 51 m high and has seven floors. Right under it there is a golden circle, known as kilometer zero. It illustrates the distances from Bratislava to 29 other capital cities.
|Michael's Gate & Tower, Bratislava|
4. The Main Square (Hlavne Namestie) is lined on one side by the medieval Old Town Hall and Maximilian Fountain, and the other by a mix of inviting restaurants, cafes, and souvenir shops. Parts of the Old Town Hall dates back to the 15th century and the famous clock tower can be seen from all over the inner city. The 10.5 meter high statue at the Maximilian Fountain is also known as the Roland Statue.
|Old Town Hall, Bratislava|
|Maximilian Fountain, Bratislava|
|Souvenir shop, Main Square, Bratislava|
5. The musicians' quarter where numerous famous music composers studied, lived, or gave concerts, among whom Liszt, Mozart, and Beethoven were the most famous.
|A plaque for F. Liszt, Bratislava|
6. The Historic Opera House, an elegant neo-Renaissance building constructed in 1886 after designs of the prolific Viennese architects Ferdinand Fellner and Hermann Helmer, with a charming Ganymede Fountain by Viktor Tigner in the front.
|Historic Opera House, Bratislava|
7. Restored Baroque and Renaissance buildings seen as we walked along the main pedestrian streets of Michalska and Venturska. Alleyways fan out in all directions. It was a pleasure to wander and pause to admire the detailing of the buildings around us.
|A courtyard, Bratislava|
|A historic building in Bratislava|
8. The New Bridge (or UFO Bridge, or Novy Most), Bratislava's retro-futuristic bridge, which links the Old Town to the sprawling housing project of Petrzalka. It's the 7th largest hanging bridge in the world. The top part of the bridge, in the shape of a space ship, includes a restaurant and an observation deck.
|New Bridge, Bratislava|
9. Pedestrian walkways from the Main Square to the New Bridge, lined with restaurants, shops, cafes, trees, quirky statues, and snack vendors.
|Hans C. Andersen's statue, front view|
|Hans C. Andersen's statue, back view|
|Cumil (The Watcher) statue|
|Pressburg Bajgel stand|
|Caffe Mobil, Bratislava|
10. The historic Cafe Mayer where we took a coffee break. The dessert selection is mouth-watering and extremely inviting. We decided to share a slice of the Mayer cake with our coffee-based drinks. It was a pleasure to relax in the coffee house and people watch for a while.
|Cake selection at Cafe Mayer, Bratislava|
|Cafe Mayer history|
|Mayer cake and cappuccino|
We enjoyed our walking tour in Bratislava's Old Town very much. I'd recommend other travellers, who are already in Central Europe, especially Vienna, to visit Bratislava since the two cities are so close to each other, and yet each has its own charms.