Bratislava, a small city compared to its brothers, Prague, Budapest, Vienna, the city has long and interesting history. To begin with, the official name of the city from March 1919, “Bratislava”, is credited to Pavel Jozef Šafárik‘s misinterpretation of Braslav as Bratislav when analysing medieval sources, thus coming up with the term Břetislaw, later Bratislav (Thanks to Wikipedia). Bratislava is also translated as Brother’s Glory in English, perhaps to promote the glory of the Slavs and Slovaks. I wanted to spend couple of days in a small city to relax before going to Budapest. Turned out Bratislava was a perfect choice. You may ask Why??. The answer is simple – because it’s all here – History, architecture, culture, food and amazing people welcoming tourist with warm hearts.
The overnight bus from Krakow reached Bratislava around 5:30 am. Though waking up in a new city is a very satisfying feeling, finding a taxi or public transit at 5:30 am is dreadful. Luckily, my AirBnB host, Lubica was very kind to come and pick me up at 6 am.
Lubica’s place is a short 15-20 mins ride from the coach station. All along the way, Lubica gave me a crash course introduction to Bratislava. When we reached Lubica’s family house, guess who welcomed us, Ares, the cute and enthusiastic family dog.
After catching up with sleep, I decided to explore the old town before joining the free walking tour in the evening. First stop, the Little Blue Church (obviously!!). Lubica offered me to drive to Blue Church. After getting lost and making couple of rounds in the area, we finally found the church. I fell in love with the church at first glance..love at first sight. Bratislava’s most appealing art nouveau building, Blue Church or Church of St. Elizabeth, was designed by Budapest architect Edmund Lechner and built in the early twentieth century (the church was consecrated on 11 October, 1913). Facade, mosaics, roof, everything including the interiors is blue. Reminded me of frozen movie. A visit is definitely worth to admire this blue beauty.
The next stop was Bratislava Old Town. The Old Town has its own charm and atmosphere. All the main attractions and historical buildings are located next to each other at a very pleasant walking distance. The main attractions are Old Town Hall and St. Martin’s Cathedral. The cathedral is best known for being the coronation church of the Kingdom of Hungary between 1563 and 1830. It has held 19 coronations and Queen Maria Theresa was one of the crowned people. The tower of St. Martin’s cathedral is topped by a gold-plated replica of the Crown of St. Stephen.
Old Town is also filled with lot of cute cafes, restaurants and bars.
Next challenge was to spot all the statue while walking through old town. As Bratislava looked to shed the greyness of the Communist era many buildings were repainted. In an attempt to enliven the city centre, a few statues were installed. Their popularity with tourists led to new statues, filling the centre of Bratislava with cool and funny installations.
The most famous is the statue called Cumil. He dates back to 1997 and is a funny guy looking up from a street manhole. Cumil is lucky to have his head still, as several drivers have crashed with him. That is why he has his own traffic sign now saying “Man at Work”.
Other statutes include Mr Hans Christian Andersen, Ignac Lamar and a Napoleon soldier.
Last attraction before heading home (so tired) was the UFO bridge, officially known as New Bridge. UFO bridge, over the Danube, connects the Old Town with another Bratislava’s borough – Petržalka. It gets its name from the UFO shaped gandola on the bridge’s 84.6 m pylon. Though it is a famous tourist attraction, significant section of old town compromising nearly all of Jewish quarter had to be destroyed during the construction.
Now I was ready to go back home and give some rest to my poor feet. There was home made dinner awaiting for me. Thank you Lubica 🙂 Josef and me had a pleasant conversation over the dinner. One question he asked me was how many people do you think India can handle? I still don’t know the answer to that question.
Next morning, Lubica, me and Ares visited the Devin Castle. Around 10km from Bratislava, Devin castle ruins are located on a high cliff over Morava and Danube rivers. The castle which witnessed the glory and fall of Great Moravia, was blown up by Napoleon’s army. In current days, Devin castle ruins is a National Cultural Monument symbolising Slavic fellowship and unity.
My last stop before heading to another new city was Bratislava Castle. Bratislava Castle, the landmark overlooking the capital, was built in 9th century. It stands on the hill above Danube river. The Castle, which in the past was controlled by Great Moravia and for almost 200 years stored the crown jewels of Hungary, but now a days it hosts many expositions and is an ideal place for walks with beautiful surroundings and views.
I walked around in the old town before heading back home. Just could not get enough of this cosy, cute and vibrant old town.
It was time to catch the coach for Budapest. Lubica dropped me to the coach station. Just 30 hours ago, I was waiting at this coach station as an anxious tourist, waiting to explore Bratislava. And now I am an admirer of this city and its people. I could not have found better accommodation than Lubica and Josef’s place. Thank you Lubica, Josef, Ares and Bratislava for such wonderful time 🙂