2019 Day 55 – Bratislava

We’re walking in the footsteps of kings and queens today. The modern capital of Slovakia, once known as Pressburg, was also once the capital of Hungary. In 1526 a war with the Turks left a much diminished Hungary. Pressburg, as it was known then, was the site of coronations for 19 of its monarchs. Their coronation path is marked through the old town with crowns embedded in the cobblestones. Between 1563 and 1830, 11 of these coronations were performed at St Martin’s Cathedral.It’s also the final resting place of St John the Almsgiver – a chapel housing his remains was added in 1732.Coronations and centuries of history aside, these gorgeous animal wood carvings are my favourite.Whilst it’s a thriving metropolis elsewhere, Bratislava’s beating heart is its old town, a compact, pedestrian only zone, linked by a series of squares. Within its boundaries, the old town is largely untouched by time, full of glorious old buildings and absolutely bulging with restaurants and cafes. There’s a little something for everyone where, from trees shaded boulevards,open air squares and even “mist zones” where those who, like me, dislike the heat, can walk through misters to cool down. Highly recommended, despite the hair frizz they cause. Bratislava’s old market place is now the square: Hlavne Namestie.Centred with a fountain depicting Roland, a heroic knight of the realm is now home to cafes, cake and ice cream shops and restaurants. There’s lunch of course – Himself choses well with a restaurant that’s off the tourist menu, focusing on regional specialties: he has a slow roasted pork neck with beans in a dill sauce,I have the chicken papricash with potato dumplings. Both are utterly delicious.The square is also home to the 15th century old Town Hall, now home to the city museum. It’s a magnificent building with an intricately detailed roof.At the edge of the old town is Michael’s Gate – the last remaining mediaeval town gate.Topped with a statue of the archangel Michael, it dates back to the first half of the 14th century and with an impressive 51 metre height, towers over the old town. We also see the the Slovak National Theatre,whimsical sculptures,and further afield, the Little Blue Church.Its art nouveau style is a favourite for weddings and christenings with locals.It’s a full day, exploring the old town on foot. Even though it’s quite compact, there’s so much to see. There’s just time for a coffee and cake to end the day – what a delightful surprise Bratislava has turned out to be.