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Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, is a friendly, youthful place with a feisty medieval Old Town and a Soviet-style New Town. It is home to numerous universities, museums, art galleries, leafy parks, opulent palaces and historic churches. Like all Central European cities, Bratislava has witnessed the rise and fall of great continental empires. It served as a Hungarian capital in the 16th century and no less than 11 Habsburg Kings and Queens were crowned in the city’s cathedral. The legacy of Soviet rule has also left its mark on the city: Bratislava is home to the biggest Communist-era housing estate in Central Europe.
For an overview of Bratislava, head to Slavín Hill, a quiet, leafy place with expansive views over the Old Town and surrounding mountains. The hill is also the site of a Soviet cemetery and a memorial commemorating the city’s liberation at the end of the World War II. For even better views, head to the 1960’s Soviet tower on the New Bridge – the so-called ‘UFO restaurant’, which overlooks the Danube River and offers an opportunity to dine in style.Read more
Bratislava’s Old Town is dominated by the main square - the social, geographic and spiritual heart of city – a bustling space surrounded by fine architecture and civic buildings. The town hall dates to the 13th century and includes many additions over the years, including a particularly handsome renaissance courtyard. There are also plentiful palaces throughout the district, including Mirbach Palace, Palffy Palace and Grassalkovich Palace and Gardens. Don’t miss the Primate of Eszertergom, home to the head of the Catholic Church in Hungary. It is now a museum, complete with opulent furnishings and English tapestries.
On the western edge of the Old Town, the stark-looking St. Martin’s Cathedral is a large gothic structure and the former coronation church of Hungary. It was begun in 1204, re-consecrated in 1445 and restored 1861-80. The mighty Bratislava Castle, a symbol of the city itself, overlooks the Old Town from the banks of the Danube with its four square turrets. It has undergone a major restoration and is now home to the Slovak National Museum. Perched on the edge of the Carpathian Mountains at the confluence of the Morava and Danube rivers, the crumbling and romantic castle of Devin is another important fortification, easily reached as a day-trip from Bratislava.