Bratislava, Slovakia – The Heart of Europe
Bratislava, the capital of the central European state of Slovakia, is a city dipped in history, culture and nature. It is often called the “Heart of Europe” because this city quite literally sits right in the center of Europe. For any tourist visiting central Europe, skipping Slovakia, and more importantly Bratislava, would be unimaginable. The city is strewn with churches, castles and other important cultural heritage which gives it the ambiance of a medieval town. Here is a rundown of Bratislava’s most enjoyable places for tourists.
St. Michael’s Gate
An example of Gothic architecture, this is the lone surviving gate of Bratislava’s medieval fortifications. It was originally built in the 14th century but the statue of St. Michael was added to the design in the 18th century, thus giving it the tower-like appearance. It also houses a museum displaying an arms collection of the military. Going to the top also provides one with a spectacular view of the Old Town. There is a longstanding myth that students who talk while passing under the tower fail their exams so don’t feel surprised if the area is unusually quiet.
Built on a hill next to the banks of the Danube, the Bratislava Castle provides excellent views of not just the city, but also neighbouring Hungary and Austria. It has seen its share of history after it was built in the tenth century. Today the Castle houses the Slovak National Museum which displays local craft, art history and culture.
House of the Good Shepherd – Museum of Clocks
A rather unusual museum with an equally unusual name and architecture, The Museum of Clocks houses antique clocks from 17th to early 20th century. It is a rather small building which makes it congested because of the constant flow of tourists wanting to see the display. The building also has a pub and a restaurant in its basement.
Slovak National Theater
The Slovak National Theater is located two separate buildings. One is the old theater building located in Old Town and an example of Neo-Renaissance architecture. The modern building is located near the Danube. It follows a very futuristic design with a glassy display – something you would not expect to see in European theaters which are usually heavily influenced by local cultures. It was commissioned in the 1980s but eventually opened in 2007 after years of delay. The theater regularly hosts operas and plays so those with a penchant for arts and theatre are recommended to visit it.
The Primatial Palace is where Napoleon signed the Pressburg Peace Treaty in 1805. It used to be the residence of Cardinal Joseph Batthany who was Primate of Hungary, but today the palace is open for public. The Primatial Palace is also home to the Municipal Museum and a diverse collection of English Tapestries.
Bratislava is famous for the numerous sculptures which adorn the city and bring life to its streets. An original yet simple piece of art, Cumil is Bratislava’s most famous sculpture depicting a man who has just climbled out of a sewer. A recent addition to the list is a sculpture called Paparazzi which shows a photographer taking a picture from behind a pillar. Strikingly life-like, the statue draws both tourists and locals who take photos of themselves with a man taking photos.
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