Perched formidably overlooking the old town, Bratislava Castle is first mentioned in history as far back as 907.
Strategically located on a major trade route crossing, the Castle was also on the ancient amber path. That would explain the jeweller I spotted in the old town, displaying stunning pieces of amber, including a deep red type I’ve not seen before.
It’s a blisteringly hot day, giving the climb up to the castle an extra little challenge. It’s a tough one too, steep and a bit of a never ending puzzle: you think you’ve reached the end, but then turn a corner only to realise that there’s much further to go. At least we’re rewarded by every increasing fabulous views as we ascend.
The old town sits nestled under the castle’s protection, St Martin’s Cathedral proudly up front. The Danube streaches as far as the eye can see.
By the time we reach the top, Himself has only one goal in mind. Lunch! “I’m starving”, he says and proceeds to demolish a burger and chips.
I swear the man has hollow legs. I’m much happier with my burrata and tomato salad, deliciously dressed with a fragrant pesto.
The heavy food is starting to get to me. I’m missing my French goats’ cheese salads.
Our restaurant is set right on the edge of the castle’s battlements, overlooking the old town. It’s a peaceful spot, sitting under the shade of ancient trees, sipping a local rose, playing “spot the building” in the old town – we can even see spire of the Little Blue Church from here.
Eventually, we drag ourselves away, to face the challenge of find the entrance and ticket office – not as easy as one might think.
We learn of the castle’s long history and its painstakingly restoration. It was heavily fortified in the 11th and 12th centuries, rebuilt in a Gothic style in the 15th century, then furnished in a rococo style in the 15th. All this work was lost though, when the castle burnt down in 1850. Restoration didn’t commence until the 1950s. It took decades – the work is flawless.
These days, Bratislava Castle is put to good use. In addition to being a tourist drawcard, it’s home to the the Slovak National Museum,
an art gallery displaying Slovakia’s leading artist, Martin Benka, whose work spanned some 70 years,
and a display of Slovakia’s crystal workmanship.
There’s also an extensive display of historical furniture,
the Castle’s treasury featuring finely worked silver,
and beautiful gardens.
It’s an enormous place with a great deal to see – it’s very easy to lose a day here. We save the tower for last, but try as I might, I just can’t bring myself to go up the stairs. They’re a series of steep (think almost vertical) steps, ones that you can see between. I get up the first flight somehow, but my flight response is triggered. With “abort, abort, abort” ringing loudly in my ears, I do. My palms are sweating just writing about those stairs. Oh well, I tried. And you can’t see everything.
Himself, glad of the opportunity to miss yet another climb, starts making noises about going home, and for once I’m happy to oblige.
Whichever way you slice it, Bratislava Castle is a great day day out – so much to do and see. With the added bonus of a workout both up and down the hill, you’d be hard pressed to squeeze in anything more then them an ice-cream on the way home. 😉🍨