Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Danube Capitals: Bratislava

This is my last post on the Danube Capitals - taking my readers to Bratislava, capital of Slovakia. As I wrote in my first post, the River Danube that originates from Germany passes through four capitals en route before ending its 10 countries' journey of some 2,860 miles and falling in to the Black Sea. 
I have already talked about Danube and two capitals, Vienna (Austria) and Budapest (Hungry). Today's post is about Bratislava, capital of Slovakia, but will not be able to cover the fourth Danube capital (Belgrade, Serbia) as my sons' tour was restricted to Austria, Hungry and Slovakia only. 
What is at the top of the bridge, which rather looks weired, built during the Soviet era resembles a UFO. But UFO have never been sighted here in this part of the world. So why build the top mast of the bridge like so - well no one really knew. But for those with heavy wallets, there is an expensive restaurant up there providing a spectacular view of the city and the Danube.
Bratislava the capital of  Slovakia is the country's largest city. Like Budapest, it thrives on both banks of River Danube. The city borders Austria and Hungry, becoming the the only national capital that borders two sovereign states. The city is as old as 16th century when its mention as the coronation site of the Kingdom of Hungry is mentioned between 1536 to 1783. Mostly inhabited by Slovaks, it has also been home to many Hungarian and German landmark figures.
Rynek Námestie or the Rynek Square or Street or the Fisherman Square in located in the old town of Bratislava. Most of the buildings in the square date back to the 18th and 19th centuries. Here in the square stands the plague column, built in 1713. The columns was constructed from a public collection to mark the end of the plague epidemic that hit Bratislava at the end of 1712.

This is the Main Square where the historical Gothic Old Town Hall, built in the 14th century for the town mayor Jacob, with its clock tower and the Roland Fountain are located. The Roland Fountain is also known as Maximillian fountain since its construction was ordered by Maximillian II, the King Of Hungary. The top statue is also therefore of Maximillian in full knight armour.
The square is a favourite tourist site and one should not miss it when visiting the Old Town. It is here that that tourists can find living cafés on the streets to grab a burger while taking a walking tour of the square.
There are many interesting sculptures one comes across in while walking through city streets and are is favourite shooting sites of the tourists. This sculpture of an old warrior clad in heavy armour with a heavy sword in hand is in fact a man, who initially gives the look of a sculpture. But when one poses with it, he changes posture to allow tourists with funny poses. 
The bronze sculpture of a labourer  half above and half inside a manhole (below) is also one of these interesting city landmarks. Since it lies right in the open, drivers would often bump into it. Now there is a cautionary sign as a forewarning for the drivers to be carefulThe sculpture known as Čumil (the Watcher) by famous sculptor Viktor Hulik erected in 1997 is the modern mascot of Bratislava.
The city was earlier known as Pressburg, but was renamed as Bratislava in 1919. Like Budapest, Bratislava too is a tourist friendly country, though to a lesser degree, and is visited by a large number of tourists from across the world and specially the Schengen countries as one visa applies to all other Schengen countries.

The city is served with a most modern transportation system and one can take a ride from Bratislava to Vienna through the Danube. However, for tourists, city tours are arranged in special buses and trams - something like the one in the following photo. 
 The city of Bratislava is twinned with 24 other countries of the world.
St. Michael clock tower in the background is one of the tallest structures of Bratislava in the Michalska Street in the Old Town. Rising to a height of more than 50 metres, St. Michael clock tower, built in the 14th century, is the only surviving architecture of the city's original fortifications. The visitors can go to the tower top to have a spectacular view of Bratislava, besides viewing an exhibition of arms and the city's fortification.
The Golden Circle located directly under the Michael's Gate is the Zero Kilometer landmark - that marks the city center of Old Town and from this point distances to other landmarks can be found.

One of the major landmarks of the city is the Bratislava Castle. The history of castle is as old as the year 907. It provides a commanding view of the city as it is located atop a rocky hill on the Little Carpathians which is part of the Carpathian Mountain range. The castle is surrounded by four towers.
 The Knight statues located in the courtyard of the castle

Spectacular view of the city from the castle
 Bronze sculptures are scattered all around the city, providing excellent portrait shots
Lunch Time !!
The open street eateries are the best places for the tourists to grab a burger or delicious ice cream while taking rest after hours of walking in the narrow alleys of the Old Town.
Flowers and fountains - so refreshing
The lines of fountains on the Hviezdoslavovo Namestie / Square has on of its sides over looked by the statue of a  famous Slovak poet and its other end heading down to the Opera House.
One of the major tourist attraction in the Hviezdoslavovo Square is the massive white building of the Slovak National Theater. This neo-Renaissance theater hosts opera, ballet and drama performances. Designed by the Viennese architects F. Fellner and H. Helmer, was built between 1884 and 1886, this theater is still being used for the purpose it was built for. How does it looks from inside - well you have to buy the ticket for a live performance to see the grandeur of its interior.
Wow - bubbles - while chidren enjoy these giant water bubbles, grown ups also join in to have fun they once had when they were kids too.
While the bubbles were so many and everyone seemed to be enjoying, I was reminded of the giant Jumbo sized bubbles I saw in Frankfurt, Germany a few years ago. Those were really big - even bigger than a medium sized man.
 Hey, it is personal - don't peep
 The Bratislava evening setting in
With evening falling, the time to say good bye to Bratislava and return home back to Germany after a three days intensive tour of the three Danube capitals with loads of photos and beautiful memories that one would cherish for many years. The journey back was in the dark hours of the night and nothing but shadows running outside the bus windows, the tourists went to sleep - a sleep badly needed after a hectic day long tour of Bratislava.

But that is not the end. for travel lovers, the destinations are many and never ending. There will always be new places to visit in one's life, meet different people and see landmarks that abound in destines around the world.

References: Wikipedia
Photos: All photos are the property of Jaho Jalal / Waqaace Jalal Bhatti
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