Bratislava

Overview

Introduction

Bratislava, Slovakia's capital, is a charming city that sits at the point where the Carpathian Mountains meet the Danube River. The city has two personalities: The first is old-world, Hapsburg baroque, reflected in the charming row houses and the historic Old Quarter. The other is characterized by concrete block-style neighborhoods typical of former Eastern Bloc countries. Both architectural styles combine to form an interesting, urban mix.

Much of older Bratislava has been spruced up—the center of Old Town is now an attractive pedestrian zone. At the heart of Old Town is Hlavne Square, which hosts a wonderful Christmas market in December. Stands are set up to sell wooden handicrafts, Christmas ornaments, hot wine, sausages, soup and palacinky (crepes).

Also of interest in town are the Slovak National Gallery (modern art), the Slovak National Museum, the Clock Museum, the Museum of Jewish Culture, the Municipal Museum (of local history) and the Museum of Wine Production. Bratislava also has a few art-nouveau buildings, most notably St. Elizabeth Church (also known as the Blue Church).

It's hard to miss Novy Most, also called Most SNP (the Slovak National Uprising Bridge)—it resembles a large oil derrick. It has an observation deck and restaurant, which has nice views. (Sadly, the city's old Jewish quarter was torn down to make way for this structure.)

The best place to see totalitarian architecture is Namestie Slobody, a monumental square that was built around a giant statue of Communist President Klement Gottwald. (The statue has since been removed.) On one side of the square is the world's largest post office. When you feel the need for refreshment with traditional beer-hall ambience, visit Prazdroj, which is located on Mostova.

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