On some of our Danube river cruises, particularly those longer than seven nights, you may find yourself stopping in the city of Bratislava. The largest city in Slovakia is bisected by the river and is the only capital in the world to border two other independent countries. Over the years, Bratislava has belonged to many different empires, including the Kingdom of Hungary and the Habsburg Monarchy, but now stands firmly as the political, cultural and economic centre of Slovakia.
So, if you do find yourself arriving here, these activities should be well and truly at the top of your to-do list.
Historic Hrad Castle
Also known as Bratislava Castle, this impending structure sits high on the hilltop on the banks of the Danube. This is one of the best-known attractions in the city due to the enthralling history it holds within its walls and, of course, the fact that it’s impossible to miss. The first ever mention of the city, in 907, makes reference to the castle and so it is easy to see how many stories it has to tell.
It hasn’t always looked the way it does now, though. Throughout the years, it has been renovated in a range of different ways to suit the styles at that particular point in history. It has been redesigned to fit the Renaissance, Baroque and Gothic periods, resulting in a building that now contains features from all three eras. There are a number of different museums inside that showcase permanent and temporary exhibitions. The opening hours differ throughout the year, but prices start from just €6.
Head Up To the Heights
If you can’t get a feel for the city from the ground, there are a couple of places from which you can gain a much better perspective. The highest of which is the viewing platform on top of the Bridge of the Slovak National Uprising, affectionately known as the UFO. You can climb the 95 metres to the top, step out onto the open-air platform and look out over the city below, before coming down a level and enjoying a meal in the restaurant.
If you haven’t quite got the head for those kinds of heights, why not enjoy the views from the top of St. Michael’s Tower. At just 51 metres, it only half the height of the UFO and still provides great photo opportunities. As you make your way up this interesting tower, you will also find the Exhibition of Weapons from the Bratislava City Museum and the Museum of Medieval Fortification of Bratislava.
Cuddle Up To Cumil In The Old Town
Image: Wikipedia Commons, PMATAS
As well as being rich in history, Bratislava Old Town is home to one of the city’s most famous residents. Cumil, a statue of a man at work, can be seen resting his head and arms out of a manhole cover on the corner of Rybárska brána and Panská. Some people say that he is merely watching the world pass by, whilst others point to the fact that he looks like he is trying to get a sneak peak up the women’s skirts. Either way, it has become a custom for tourists and locals to rub the top of his head for good luck.
Just a short walk from here, you will also find the Blue Church. The Church of St. Elisabeth, to give it its proper name, is coloured blue both outside and in. As you make your way through the maze of side streets and alleyways, the site of this striking structure is sure to put a smile on your face. It is built in the style of Hungarian Art Nouveau and has been in place since 1908.
If you would like to book your Danube river cruise, we have a range of different itineraries for you to choose from. Call our sales team today for more information or submit your enquiry through the website.