This will be a very long article because Bratislava is the city i love most between all the cities in the world. It is here that i found happiness and love and it is here that i started to live a normal happy life. Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and the main city, the economical, political, cultural center of the country. Here sits the president, the parliament and the government. When i came to Bratislava I was surprised to find a very beautiful clean city full of old Castles, palaces, theaters, old buildings, high churches but also new interesting and modern buildings. The old and new mingle peacefully and the old buildings are beautifully preserved. Bratislava is in my opinion as beautiful and interesting like any other well-know touristic location: like Vienna or Prague but smaller and with less people. Being accustomed with the madness, crowd and rush of Bucharest, with it's full buses and horrible smelling metros i found Bratislava to be peaceful. It took me a while to get used to the lifestyle. I was always the one rushing and walking faster then everybody before i learned to chill out and enjoy my life. Bratislava is build on the Danube. The river flows just in the middle of the city and that is why i loved it even more. Bering born in Braila i am a Danube child and i was happy to find it again here in Slovakia.
What i liked the most about Bratislava is its wonderful location. It is the only European capital that borders with two other countries: Austria and Hungary. If you are in some of the city parts, like Petrzalka or Rusovce you can see the windmills rotating over the Austrian border and the green Austrian hills. If you cross the border in Rajka from Rusvoce you can be in 10 minutes in the first Hungarian town and eat your dinner at a nice Hungarian restaurant, as we sometimes do some Sundays with Viktor's parents.From Bratislava you can get to Vienna in a hour by train, to Budapest in 2 hours, to Brno in 2 hours, to Prague in about 5 hours. You can sit in the car and just go over the border to Hungary and to Mosonmagyaróvár. There not only can you visit a very small and beautiful village, but you can go shopping at Tesco where is much cheaper then in Slovakia. Most of our major shopping are done there. If you want you can also go and visit the little villages in Austria near the border. There is a direct bus that takes you in 20 minutes to Hainburg where you can both shop or just walk along the beautiful rows of houses. You can go to Bruck an der Laitha and walk along the beautiful city, stop in the park and then to the schnitzel house to have something good. There is also less then one hour to get to Parndorf, where there is a whole shopping city.And also our favorite location, the small village of Prellen Kirchen where we go to a wonderful and peaceful swimming pool.
But returning to Bratislava, the first time i came here was in the winter of 2007 and i spend the New Years Ever (or Silvester as i learned the Slovaks call it) here. So there wasn't much option to really visit the city. It was cold and we went to the center near the Danube to see the fireworks. But after that i came to Bratislava with Viktor to spend the first Catholic Easter together. We came on a glorious and sunny Good Friday, when all the Churches were preparing for the Holly Easter. We took a stroll along the whole Bratislava and stopped at all the Churches we met on the way. We entered and we found there the cross of Christ already lay out so people can come and pray or kiss it. A few people praying here in a quiet small church, a few nuns tending to the statues in other, in the end it was one of the most wonderful afternoons.
Of course we started with the most impressive Church in the city: The St. Martin Dome. The Dome stands in the middle of the Old Town of Bratislava, just near the Bratislava Castle and the Danube. It is the biggest and one of the oldest church in Bratislava and also the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Bratislava.The Dome was consecrated in 1452 and it was used for many hundreds of years for the coronation of Hungarian Kings. That is why on the top tower of the Church there is not a cross but a crown.
We visited also the inside of the Church, the exposition of old church robes and objects and also the crypt where many bishops were buried. In the Main Square we stopped at the Jesuit Church. It is a large and spacious church and sometimes you can stop and listen to some org concert.
Next you can visit the Trinity Church just outside the Old Town.
The Church that most impressed me then was St. Elisabeth church or how it is called in Bratislava The Blue Church (Modry Kostol). You would think it to be a strange name but if you see it you will find out that the walls of the church are all painted in blue and even the pews inside the church are also blue.
Now if you want to visit Bratislava the first thing i recommend is to start with the center of the city, mainly with the Old Town. Here you can walk along narrow cobble-stoned streets bordered by old houses. On some of the streets it still looks like a medieval city.If you want to start from somewhere you should do it from The New Bridge (Novy Most). Novy Most is one of the newest bridge in Bratislava and is in a shape of a UFO. Up there, there is a restaurant from which you can admire the whole Bratislava.
There is a very big bus station just under the bridge. On one site you can see the Bratislava Castle and on the other the St. Martin Dome.From there you can take a nice slow walk along the Hviezdoslavovo square. The square is mostly formed by a large pedestrian zone that gets to the National Theater. The street is large full of green trees, ice-cream parlors, benches, fountains.
It looks like a park and there are two blue fountains running along the street.At the end of the street you can see the Carlton Hotel, the National Theater, the opera and make some nice pictures in the small square.
There is always a wooden shop with roasted chestnuts or boil corn or with souvenirs.
Then we start to walk on the nice street towards the Main Square of the Old Town of Bratislava.
On the way you can see some very strange but interesting statues. The first status is also the most famous, it is the Cumil or Man at work. You can see only a head and some arms coming out of a sewer.
Then you will find Schone Naci, an old legend of Bratislava, of an old poor man living in Bratislava in the early 20th century dresses in a nice frock and hat and greeting everybody on the street.
Also you can meet the Paparazzi, near the pub with the same name, hiding with a camera behind the building just like a real paparazzi.
As you reach the Main Square the first thing you will see is the the Roland Fountain. It is one of the city's important landmarks and the meeting point for friends and lovers.
Then you will have a view of the whole large square, full of light, surrounded by old houses and Churches, benches, and sometimes with wooden shops with roasted chestnuts, souvenirs, Slovak alcohol.
In the main square you will find a little friend of the other statues of the Old Town: Napoleon's soldier leaning over a bench in the middle of the center. Stop there, shop, look around and make pictures.
My parents resting near Napoleon's soldier
You can stop for a coffee, ice-cream or cookie at the famous Kaffee Mayer, an Austrian cafeteria. You can then go and visit the Church of the Most High Savior or the Jesuit Church. it is a very large Church, spacious and always cool. You can go there and listen sometimes with an organ concert and there are masses almost every hour.
Then you must visit the most important thing in the square: the Old Town City Hall. It is just near the Church, you can go through a large wooden door in the City Hall's courtyard and admire the beautiful wooden balconies and the flowers on the white washed walls.
You can go out in another small square where we can admire the Mair's palace and sit on the benches.
Summer restaurants along the way
You can see a lot of beautiful and interesting things in the Old Town: you can visit the Town's Library and then Michael's Gate. Near there is the Pharmacy Museum. Under the Michael's gate there is a circle on the ground showing all the distances to the main cities in the world.
Next go on the Danube bank, walk a little and admire the Danube floating by, the nice flowers on the border of the river, the boats floating. Go on the New Bridge and admire the other bridges of Bratislava from there.
View from Novy Most
You can go around the castleand admire the four towers, the white walls, the orange roof, the statues around it.
Then from the turrets around the castle you can watch the whole Bratislava from there spreading before your eyes. You can see the Danube running by, the Bratislava bridges, you can see all the Petrzalka neighborhood, also far away there are the green hills of Austria and on good sunny days you can see also Hungary.
Near the Castle there is also the Parliament House, you can stop there and make some pictures.
Next you can go on foot or by bus to the Slavín War Memorial which is also on the top of a hill and also radio tower also on the top of a hill.You can walk around the small streets which are full of embassies.
In the back the Slavin Memorial and the Radio Tower and in the from the Dom St. Martin and the Orthodox Church St. Nicholas
Then you can go down to the Presidents Palace or Grassalkovich Palace, where the president lives. Go there at a fix hour and you will see the guards changing. Apart from the Old Town there are new and modern buildings, malls and business centers. There are many commercial centers: Polus City Center, Aupark, Palace. And he newest addition to the malls is Eurovea, opened in 2010 and on the bank of the Danube. The mall is 3 stores high, made of glass and full of spacious and elegant shops, fast-foods but also respectable restaurants, a cinema city. Then you can go out of the building on the Danube bank and choose one of the pubs and restaurants and summer gardens where you can sit, admire the Danube and eat or taste some ice-cream, beer, cold lemonade.
If you are tired of the city center it is a good time to visit one of the many beautiful parks in Bratislava. If you want to mix the walking with shopping then the best park is Aupark, near the mall with the same name. Directly from the mall you can go out into the park, which is like a large and, dark and cool forest, full of grandiose trees, green grass and here and there some statue or old monument. In the middle of the park there is the statue of Jan Kral, one of the greatest Slovak writers.If you walk along the park you can get to the bank of the Danube on the opposite side of the Bratislava Castle.
Statue of Jan Kral in Aupark
Aupark in autumn
You can walk along the river bank and have a nice view of the Old Town and you can see most of the attractions: Bratislava Castle, the UFO bridge, the Dome St. Martin, and in the back, the radio tower and Slavin.
If you live like us in Ruzinov then you will like to visit the Ruzinov park, near a beautiful lake. You can take a stroll along the lake surrounded by beautiful trees. Here and there there is a pub or a restaurant or a place for children. It is not allowed to swim in the lake but you can watch the swans and the ducks swimming in it.
There is also the Medical Garden, a large beautiful park with a lot of strong trees and a lot of green grass. This is the place where in summer a lot of students, mostly medical students are going there on the grass and studying. But there are also families with children playing on the grass.
Also every Sunday we go to Viktor's parents which live in a small neighborhood near Bratislava, called Rusovce. You can get there by bus in 20 minutes. There you can visit the beautiful park, full of large chestnut trees, in the middle of it being the Rusovce mansion. It was build by an old and rich Hungarian family, called the Zichy family. They build also the beautiful Church in the middle of the Rusovce, called the St. Mary-Magdalene Church. From the park you can get also to the Gerulata museum, where you can see old roman ruins. Also you can get to the Rusovce and Cunovo lakes, where every week-end young people go there for swimming, rafting, cycling, or roller skating.
For a whole day of relaxing and walking you can take the bus from under the New Bridge and go to the little village of Devin. There there is a place where the Danube and Morava river meet. There are also the ruing of an old castle, also some simple restaurants where you can have beer or Kofola (the Slovak specific drink), sausages and other grills.
Danube and Morava meeting
Then you can go in the Devin village and admire the small houses and the Church in which there are the statues of Cyril and Metod.
A sort of park is also the Zoo Bratislava, where you can go to look at the animals but also to walk along the beautiful streets and trees and it is also full of places where children can play in the swings and have snack, something sweet or juice. In the middle of the Zoo you can visit the Dino park, where there are statues of dinosaurs in their original size and also a small 3d cinema with a movie about dinosaurs.
Giraffe in the ZOO
Dinosaur in the Dino Park
If you are hungry Bratislava is an excellent town for eating. You can have all kinds of foods: from Italian, Irish, Chinese, Greek, even Arab food. But if you are in Bratislava you definitely must try the Slovak food. Slovak food is rich, greasy and full of strong aromas. From the best restaurants i can recommend Slovak Pub on Obchodná 62, there you can taste a most wonderful Brynzove Halusky, small dumplings from flour and potatoes, boiled and mixed with sour cream, sheep cheese and bacon. The you can Visit the Cunovo Carda, it is out of town and we had the wedding there, it is very far but it is worth going there. The restaurant is almost on the Hungarian border so it has Hungarian aspects, there you can eat an excellent goulash, fish soup, and chicken with sweet cream.In the Eurovea you can stop in the beautiful restaurant of Kolkovna, where you can eat the best schnitzels and taste the famous Slovak potatoes salad. In the Old Town also there are a lot of restaurants where you can taste the Slovak excellent food. There is also the famous Koliba where you can eat the best Slovak soups: chicken soup with noodles, borsch, kapustnitza (cabbage soup), tomato soup.
For the best coffee in the city you must go either to Greentree where you can savor the best organic coffee, ice-cream and cookies, or to the Ludovit Stur, where there is freshly grinned coffee, lemonade, open sandwiches and cakes. The best ice-cream in Bratislava you can find in Hviezdoslavovo square and the best chocolate in a small Chocolat shop in the Old Town.
The last things that i want to say about the Bratislava is the yearly organized celebrations. Bratislava people like to live to the fullest and like to enjoy life and they have some famous celebrations every year. The most wonderful time in Bratislava and the most loved time is before Christmas when the whole Main Square and the Hviezdoslavovo Square are the host the famous Christmas Market. The squares are decorated with two huge Christmas trees, a skating ring,and a lot of wooden little shops where you can buy souvenirs, candles, Christmas decorations, books and postcards and many other beautiful things.
However the most loved in the Christmas Market is the wonderful food: ciganska, a sandwich with chicken or pork meat, onions and mustard, then there are all types of sausages with bread and mustard, kapustnitza, deer goulash, pancakes, strudel with apple, cheese, poppy seeds, cherries, cakes, boil wine and punch, hot coffee or chocolate, ginger bread in all kind of colors and shapes, sweets and sugar candies in all shapes, medovina an alcohol made from honey. The Christmas Market is not only a place for eating but for having fun, meeting with your friends and enjoying everything there.On the Main Square there is also a stage where the whole time there are concerts or children playing carols. From there you can go and visit Bratislava under the snow if you have the chance of snow.
The Old Town looks mystical in the winter, like a fairytale. The markets end on Christmas day and then on the New Years Eve there are concerts on both squares and at 12 o'clock there is a fireworks show on the Danube.
Another celebration that i love in Bratislava is the All Saints Day. Slovaks have a great respect towards their dead. the cemeteries are clean and beautifully arranged, the graves are of white or black marble, always covered with flowers, the cemeteries usually looks like parks, full of trees, large passways and green grass. However there are old cemeteries in Bratislava that looks like museum, for example Ondrejský Cintorin. When i first saw this cemetery i through it is a park of statues. It is full or grandiose trees that cover with their leaves and branches the tomb from the heat of the sun, there are people that walk there like in a park and mothers with trollies because it is cool and dark and quiet and you can walk for hours. I found there the graves of remarkable Slovak people: writers, actors, doctors and others. But mostly what impressed me were the old graves dating from 1800 or even 1700, however all of them nicely arranged and fresh flowers everywhere. Some of the graves looks like works of arts, there are a lot of sculptures and statues and some of the engravings touch you with their love and sensibility.
The All Saints Day celebration takes place on 1 November and it is the day when people respect and pray for the dead. People come to the cemetery and cover the graves with flowers and candles. You can go to the cemetery all day long but if you really want to enjoy then go in the evening. Then you will admire the carpet of beautiful flower and you will see the flicker of the millions of candles. In the middle of the cemetery there is the main cross where you can leave also candles, and there will be a carpet of flickering candles.
In march there is organized a marathon through Bratislava which starts from under the UFO Bridge, goes through Petrzalka and then stops in Rusovce or Cunovo. In April there is always the Flora exposition in the Incheeba building where you can admire and buy flowers, then there is the Food Fest in the courtyard of the Bratislava Castle.
In the end Bratislava is a pleasant town to live in, quiet and peaceful but all so full of live and beauty.