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Bratislava: The heart of Slovakia
In the center of Europe, two steps from Vienna, a historic city with great beauty and relaxed, student rates, attracting more and more visitors
Of the newer cathedrals of Europe, Bratislava connects perfectly yesterday and today. The nostalgic old city mansions south of the river Danube, palaces and castles coexist harmoniously with giant complexes of the communist era, with some of the museums in Slovakia, but also the multitude of bars that are filled with students. Although in the shadow of neighboring Vienna, the city foisted recent years as an alternative destination with great interest.
A bit of history about Bratislava:
Can the area be inhabited 4,000 years ago, the city stands out as the 1st century BC when the Celts build Bratislava Castle. Interestingly, the paradox of the capital of Slovakia, that has not always been Slavic. The Roman city Possonium, Hungarian and German Pressburg Pozsony, just in 1919, was a Slovak name as part of the new Czechoslovakia after the Second World War and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Its long history includes the Roman occupation, moving the hands of the Magyars to become the administrative center of the Hungarian kingdom in the 10th century. The next century was flourishing trade and in 1465 founded the first Hungarian university here, the Academia Istropolitana. Decisive for the course of the city's defeat of the Hungarians by the Turks in 1526 and the Turkish occupation of the larger piece of Hungary, which led to the flourishing of Bratislava as the capital of the Hungarian kingdom anymore for the next 250 years (1536-1783). The aristocracy of Vienna begins to build the palaces, rococo and baroque mansions we meet today, the economy is booming along with the arts and especially music. The castle hosts the Mozart, the Haydn, Beethoven, Liszt, and the Cathedral of St. Martin witnesses the coronation of 11 kings and 8 queens. The biggest boom is in the 18th century after the coronation of Maria Theresa, Empress chosen to spend her summers in Bratislava. The years of prosperity ended when the Habsburgs defeated the Turks and the administration passed the then German Pressburg in Budapest. The Napoleonic Wars and hamper economic growth, while in 1919 the city takes its present name and is presented as the capital of Slovakia after the Germans invaded Czechoslovakia. The national uprising of 1944 Patassé by the Nazis and in 1971 the Slovak Communist leadership Launches New Bridge along with the construction of the huge bands that still characterize the city. Since 1993, Bratislava was declared the capital again, new wind blowing. The old city is trying to repair, historic buildings to find the old glamor.
In the waters of the Danube in Bratislava
Guests may not find even a Vienna here. But surely they will encounter a welcoming, charming town, with strong signs of turbulent history. A story that follows and spiritual flourishing, something immediately apparent front ornate architecture, the numerous museums in music halls and successive cultural festivals. All this combined with the existence pen bars, cafes and restaurants, full of new students, make Bratislava, which has the advantage of low cost of living, look ideal European destination.
The capital of eight universities and 60,000 students standing at the feet of the Little Carpathians on both banks of the river Danube next to 1,000 hectares of vineyards producing fine wine, known since the Middle Ages when it was served at the tables of European kings. The introduction to Bratislava can start from the most typical type, which is none other than the Castle where Hungarian kings were crowned and the Eiffel which hold the crown jewels. Maybe when viewed from the outside is not as impressive as others, but the interest is in museums hosting and views offered. With features Gothic and Renaissance, it was renovated by Maria Theresa, was used as a barracks, burned, bombed and rebuilt by the communist regime. Worth to visit the Treasury of Slovakia, where a statue featured 25,000 years from mammoth tusk and a walk in folklore and history of our country has the National Museum, also in the castle. Noteworthy and Folk Music, exhibiting folk instruments but arranged musical performances every summer. Before you get out of the castle, will go up at some point of its walls to see the city from above and beyond the Danube, Austria and Hungary.
A few steps east-Bratislava also appropriate for walking-rises the Gothic Cathedral of St. Martin. Here, between the 16th and 18th century Hungarian kings were crowned 11 and 8 queens, the most famous Maria Theresa. In the 85 meter tower of the church will now find a copy of the crown that weighs 300 pounds! A particular feature of the crown at the top of the bell tower which has taken the place of the cross and the underground crypts with the tombs of prominent citizens of the city. Guests arriving at this point moving up the church of the Holy Trinity, you'll have to have a photo of the most ornate Baroque church in the city. Within walking distance lies the central artery of Bratislava, the Michalska and Venturska. A lively street full of cafés, restaurants, Baroque palaces. At the edge of featured medieval university Academia Istropolitana, while the north stands the one of the four gates of the old medieval city. The gateway Michael took the position that was once wooden having undergone many renovations. Now Stone, a tower 51 meters, adorned by a bronze statue of St. Michael. Inside the Tower will find collection of medieval swords and armor and under the gate, the "zero" from which measured the distances to other European capitals.
Street Venturska, in the Library building, once gave his first recital a nine year old boy, Franz Liszt, and some years ago on the same street in one of the palaces of the family Palffy, another boy 6 years played. The young Mozart gave his name to the building called the Mozart House, but it is not visited.
Our next stop beautiful fountain in the main square of the old town, amid lush urban houses, a stunning Art Nouveau building of the 19th century and the oldest church in the city, the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation. Even more impressive is a palace that would meet little south. The Archbishop's Palace (the winter residence to be precise) was built at the end of the 18th century to become the most beautiful classic palace in Bratislava. Statues representing the virtues adorn the roof and facade stands for 150kg iron bishop's hat. The angels who look at us entering, keep the letters C to Clemetia (goodness) and I for Iusticia (justice). Inside the palace we will be in the Hall of mirrors, which signed the Treaty of Pressburg, between Napoleon and the Austrians after the battle of Austerlitz. Wonderful and unique collection of English upholstery hosted the second floor.
Leaving the palace, we expect the characteristic building of the old Town Hall. Built in the 14th century in Gothic style, with Renaissance courtyard and green roofs in New Gothic annexes, impress us with its fortress and the cannon ball is wedged on the wall to commemorate the Napoleonic Wars. The Town Hall, which now occupies the Municipal Museum, challenges us, since climb the tower for a panoramic look at the city, get lost in the exquisitely decorated rooms, but also in the dark places of torture.
Bratislava is the architectural grace of emperors, intellectual flowering and universities-naturally-will enchant lovers of museums and art. Outside the old city walls, where it was once the moat lies Square Hviezdoslavovo, which took its name from the most famous poet of Slovakia. Arriving in this part of town it's time to watch a ballet or opera in the grand environment of the National Theatre, housed in an elegant baroque building on the square. Art lovers should also visit the National Gallery that combines gallery with museum exhibiting an interesting collection of historic and contemporary Slovak art. Among them you will find a section of Gothic and Baroque works, and pieces of the 20th century.
Many attractions in the old city, many outside the core. Northwest will climb the hill Slavin to be photographed in the huge monument, dedicated in 6000 Soviets who fell in the struggle to repel the Nazis from Slovakia. After relaxing in the lush garden and admire the view over the red roofs of the city, we could go for a short trip on the Danube. One of the most enjoyable experiences, the boat trip on the river that leads west to Castle Devin. Celts, Romans, princes of the empire of Moravia and Hungarians passed through here, to blow up the army of Napoleon in 1809. Entering the national symbol of the country anymore, we see Roman ruins, an outpost of the 15th century, a gateway, and the foundations of a church from the 9th century.
Beyond the ditch stand the remnants palace and a fortress from the ramparts of which will follow the waters of the Danube up there encountered those of the Morava. Hikers will love the lush vegetation of the area and the paths leading to the meadows of the second.
In a city full of restaurants, cafes and bars is not hard to satisfy your body after a long day walking. Although the 'modernization' has arrived here, giving visitors the opportunity to find international flavors, nothing is more enjoyable than to go into a medieval style restaurant, a tavern-like cellar to sample local goulash, potato gnocchi GIDOTYRI with fried bacon, a cabbage soup or even pancakes with goose liver. The strong flavors will go a glass Slovak beer in the evenings sweeten in a bohemian bar serving aromatic brandy and homemade drinks that never fall below 55 degrees!
The summer visitors are the most fortunate, since from June to September, the city celebrates with classical and folk music, theater, beer festivals and sporting events, and each Friday night as roads and bridges belonging to rollerbladers. It is, after all, the Bratislava justifies its reputation for vibrant, bustling city pace and quality.
HOW TO GET TO BRATISLAVA
You fly daily to the Czech Airlines CSA - Czech Airlines (T/210-96.52.957 - 8) and by Lufthansa (T/210-61.75.200).
When to go Bratislava
The most tourist season is between May and September. It is then that the museums, galleries and castles launch new exhibitions and the city organizing major festivals and cultural events. Of course, at the same time there is crowded and reservations for hotels must be made promptly. Also, prices can be a bit steep as it happens at Christmas and Easter.
MOVEMENT IN BRATISLAVA
The airport is just 7 km from the city. In the old town you can browse comfortably. There are walkways and public transport, bus and tram, take you everywhere. A ticket costs up to half a million (14/16 or 20Sk) can be used both as many times as you like in ten, thirty minutes or an hour. Tourist tickets for 1, 2, 3 and 7 days costing 80, 150, 185 and 257Sk respectively. The instruments operate from 5 am to 11.30 pm
WHERE TO STAY IN BRATISLAVA
The majority of visitors, mostly young, staying in hostels and pensions are very low cost. Very good hotels are scarce and there are not many options in the old town. In July and August inexpensive options are plentiful but not near the center. Even for the most expensive hotels is wise to have booked time. (Code number: 00421-2)
• Carlton Hotel (59 39 00 00): 4 stars, fully renovated, conveniently located near the National Theatre, has an atmosphere and is the top choice of the city. Has bikes available for guests.
• Hotel Forum (59 34 81 11, www.forumba.sk): Ideal for a professional and has all the infrastructure and if it does not have style.
• Holiday Inn (482 45 111, www.holiday-inn.sk): Good hotel known chain with rooms featuring all modern comforts. Also operate stylish restaurants, bars, fitness centre, sauna, solarium.
• Hotel Danube (59 34 08 33): The best choice in mid-range hotels but offers comfort and luxury.
• Botel Gracia (54 43 21 32, www.botel-gracia.sk): A unique experience to stay in a boat moored on the bank of the Danube opposite the Art Gallery. Within walking distance from the historic center has all the amenities - and the restaurant is on the deck.
• Hotel Perugia (54 43 18 18, www.perugia.sk): Small but very central and stylish hotel with very good service and a slightly lower price.
WHERE TO EAT IN BRATISLAVA
Although the city caters to its guests with international flavors, it can select the Slovak cuisine. Will go to Prasna Basta Boasting a kitchen and its surroundings reminiscent old cellar. Inside the castle works Hradna Vinaren that charms with its terrace overlooking the city, candles and of course the variety of very good wines. For medieval atmosphere, nice view and good local and Hungarian cuisine there and Modra Hviezda.
ACTIVITIES IN BRATISLAVA
Shopping: The city is not indicated for shopping. Beyond some souvenirs such as dolls, t-shirts with print, ceramics and maybe a bottle of drink, not axixei to go shopping.
Hiking: Above the city rises the hill Kamzik at the end of the Little Carpathians. Trails lead past the memorial to the victory over the Turks at Vienna in 1683, to reach the top, where stands the spectacularity TV Tower (200 meters), where it works and a revolving restaurant with views across the city. Hikers walking beyond the ruins of Devin in the meadows of the Morava.
Cycling: Many know the city by bike. A special lane next to the Danube leading to lovely style Tydor, Castle in Rusovce.
Danube: The river offers relaxation. To admire climb the watchtower that looks like a flying saucer over the Novy Most (New Bridge). Take the boats that make trips from the end of April until mid-September. Cycle or even rollerblades over the dam the river.
Swimming: On warm days prefer the Zlate Piesky (Golden Sand), the resort 7 km from the city where you can go boating.
For children: The amazing international art center for children Bibiana is rare experience for younger guests where invited to take part in workshops, attend exhibitions and performances.
Festivals: The "Cultural Summer" lasts from June to September and includes music, folklore and theater performances as well as Shakespearean events in the old city. At the end of September until mid-October staging the biggest music event in Bratislava Music Festival. June is the Festival of Beer and sports tournaments Budapest-Vienna-Bratislava-Ljubljana. Also interesting are the events of the coronation in February, when the city remembers kings were crowned there.
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