Located around the ancient part of Bratislava, hidden by the medieval streets, you come across this metal character cast of a good-natured worker that looks down the drain to observe everything that happens and, in particular, looks under the skirts of the ladies. This is what they say happened under the communist regime, as it made the job more enjoyable. To avoid any problems for drivers, there is a road sign warning of the presence of this nice Mr. Cumil between brána and Panská Rybásrka streets. This city is beautiful and very cheap with many hidden beauties.
The castle has a prominent place in the city. Although the views are probably best from the Novy birdge, the views from the castle are also not bad because, depending on which direction you look, you can see both the old and the modern city. Today, the castle is essentially a "fake". The original was destroyed, leaving it almost totally in ruins and it is now a symbol of Bratislava that was built just 50 years ago, although there is some debris around. St. Elizabeth of Hungary, a beloved princess, lived there. Today, the castle houses the Slovak National Museum, but I could not enter as it was closed for renovations. What I saw was the courtyard that seemed as modern as the exterior. Around here there were also many newlyweds having their photos taken. On that day, it seemed like everyone was getting married.
Michael's Gate is located on Michalska Street. There were four medieval gates in the city, but now this is the only one left. Saying that, it is not the original. The door rather than being Gothic, is now Baroque, due to the currently reconstructions. Inside there is a museum and under the tower there is a kilometer zero. At the top of the tower you can find statue of San Miguel. I found out later the myth that if you spend time talking below the door, you will die within a year and a day. Due to my complete ignorance, I spent time talking below it. On the 16th of this month it will be one year and one day since I went, if I am still here then it can only be either one of two things ... either the myth is false or have been lucky!
About 15-20km from Bratislava lies Devin castle. It is an incredible rock fortress built on the banks of river Danube. It offers amazing views over the Danube and is one of those places that is definitely worth visiting. You can still see the remains from the 9th century, in the fort in the area, but the current castle was built in the 15th century. In the 19th century, it was ravaged by Napoleon's troops, and its ruins are now part of the museum of the city of Bratislava. You can reach it by boat or bus. I was there in 2006 and there was a bus that you could catch at the river and it took you to the castle. I do not remember the price, really, because it was a few years ago. I hope you like it!
It is easy to get lost in the streets of Bratislava. They are broad, without many turns or passages and elegant and full of little surprises around every corner. Suffice to say that the many sculptures have become one of the biggest attractions of the city, also the way they have renovated the Baroque and neoclassical buildings that form the heart of the city. The city seems to breathe history, culture and especially music, which Slovaks are very fond of. It is true that there are still buildings that need very urgent restoration to save them from impending ruin, but I think they're on track. Bratislava can match any European city.
With the appearance of a simple church, St. Martin's Cathedral in Bratislava is considered to be one of the most important buildings in the country, for the simple fact that it was here that the most important monarchs of the country were crowned between the years 1563 and 1830. Built in several neo-Gothic styles but with some reconstruction, although visually it would be difficult to match it with this style, you may have variants in that part of Europe. The interior is charming with Romanesque pieces, mostly in half-relief, with vaults and passages worthy of Dracula and not fit for the faint-hearted. It has a more attractive interior. The staff were very friendly, unless you try to enter with a camera during Mass, when a person that looks like a nightclub doorman prohibits your entry ... But it is an experience!
In Bratislava the people are very proud of their culture and theater is very important, centralizing the activities of the two national theaters, one in the new part and one in the old. The latter is situated in Plaza Hviezdoslav, Bratislava in neo-Renaissance style (1886), which gives a solemn feeling. It is another obligatory stop on a visit, and very close to the river, with nice views.
Bratislava's main square is called Hlavne Namestie and although it is the main square, it is not very big and rather old (it dates back to before the 13th Century). The square and its surroundings were the things that I liked most about Bratislava, both the architecture and the tower of the Old Town Hall. It might interest you to know that there is a bench mark to where there was a flood in the city in the past. Another important element about the square is the Maximilian fountain right in front of Old City Hall across the square. In theory, the official name of the fountain is that, but it was gaining ground the name of Roland, a mythical figure ve protected the city. There are urban legends ve say that those born in Bratislava can see the moving the statue of Roland, ve is crowning the fountain.
In the North of Slovakia are the High Tatras mountain range that belongs to the National Park of the same name. With beautiful high mountain scenery there's a number of routes leading to different peaks, the highest is Gerlachovský Stit (2665 m). Since I was a child I've liked to hike in these mountains and whenever I return to Slovakia, I reserve at least one day for a route. My last hike was to Zbojnicka flat, a type of refuge - bar.
Bardejov is a small town in eastern Slovakia. It's protected by UNESCO, who want to preserve its historical monuments. Its main square is a good example. About 5 km from the city is the Bardejovské Kúpele, a spa, famous for the residence of Empress Sisi. Bardejov is my hometown, I go back every year.
Walking through the charming streets of Bratislava, you will be surprised by the number of hanging sculptures on display. They really lend a special charm to the city, so be sure to look out for them! I had a great time spotting them.
I didn't like the location of the palace, in the crossing of the main roads of the new city. But it was still charming, with a great story behind it. The Summer Palace was built in 1760, for the President of the Hungarian Royal Chamber, and Director of the Empress Maria Theresa, Count Anton Grassalkovich, and today is the official residence of the President of the Slovak Republic. The building is not open to the public, so from behind bars we can see the changing of the guard at certain times, and the Avenue of the Presidents where all foreign heads of state come on their official visits to Slovakia. I hope someday at least part of the Palace is open to the public, as it is famous in the country for its art collection.
Coming down from the castle, on one of the tram streets, I found this church which belongs to the Capuchin order of monks. Although it is baroque style, it seemed very simple to me. Almost the best thing is when you look at the front, walking away a few meters, you can see the church in its full glory from its position in the street and with the castle in the background. The interior is sober enough to be baroque, but we will not argue with the art experts in Bratislava.
Banská Bystrica lies between the Rhine and the Bystrica creek, even though it's in the mountains it is also called "The Pearl of the bed of the Rhine." We came down the river by boat. In 1944 Banská Bystrica made European history as it became the center of the Slovak National Uprising (SNP) against the Nazis' and thanks to this, Slovakia is considered a victorious nation of World War II. For centuries mining has been a way of life and today the town with 80,000 inhabitants is a college town. The truth is that we had good weather, because it usually rains. Lots of historic buildings are in the beautiful main square. Also of note is the war monument in honour of dead Jews and a museum ship in a park. I confess that I have given you information that I have searche for as I went on the trip a few years ago. What I do remember is that the people are very nice and I would recommend it.
There are five bridges across Bratisla, but the Novy Most is the most important and certainly the one that appears on the most postcards. It was called the Bridge of the Slovak National Uprising when it was finished in 1972. But the real name was rarely used, and it was colloquially known as Novy Most (New Bridge). When it was constructed, under communism, some streets had to be demolished, including an old synagogue. In one of the pillars there's a lift allowing you to ascend, with a restaurant at the top.