Top 12 Best Sights in Bratislava, Slovakia

Bratislava sights

The capital of Slovakia, Bratislava has a number of great advantages in terms of tourism. The picturesque and historic center of the city can be reached on foot, it is so compact, but there are plenty of sights to see. Among them are the monumental Bratislava Castle, the Main Square, Devin Castle, the Old Town Hall in Bratislava, Capuchin Church of St. Stephen and St. Martin’s Cathedral. It’s great to walk through the narrow cobblestone streets of the city, breathing in the wonderful aroma of the ancient traditions of the Slovak capital. It is very important that Bratislava is located on the picturesque Danube, over which bridges spanned, and the bridge SNP became a true decoration of the city. Bratislava’s eighteenth-century presidential palace is beautiful, and the Slavin Memorial, dedicated to the heroes who fell on the fronts of World War II, makes a very strong impression. So you will surely enjoy the Slovak capital!

1. Bratislava Castle

Like a massive “white ship”, Bratislava Castle towers above the Danube on a cliff on the southern spur of the Little Carpathians. Its construction dates back to the 11th century, and the present magnificent and emblematic face of Bratislava was acquired by the 15th century. Alas, the castle survived a terrible fire in 1811 and destruction during the Second World War, so what we see today is a reconstruction of the Bratislava Castle, made in the second half of the 20th century. The castle now houses the Slovak Folk Museum, but most importantly, it offers a simply stunning view of the wonderful city and the picturesque Danube River.

2. Main square

Main or Old Market square in Bratislava – a place just charming, this is the center of Old Town, it is so cozy and nice, so toy-like houses seem to surround it, that you just want to sit here on a bench or in a cozy restaurant or cafe and spend hours admiring the architectural creations of the Baroque, Gothic, Classicism, which made the ensemble of unique square. In the center of it is Roland’s fountain of beige sandstone in the Renaissance style, built in 1572. According to legend, twice a year: during the chime of the New Year and at three o’clock in the afternoon on Good Friday, the patron knight of the city silently steps down from the pedestal and, without letting his sword out of his hands, walks around the square. It is also home to Bratislava’s unique Old Town Hall.

3. Old Town Hall

The Old Town Hall is the main building of the Main Square of Bratislava and consists of the House of James, the House of the Pover, the Unger House, the Aponicho Palace, and well, the oldest part of the Town Hall – the corner tower built in the late 13th century. It is the symbol of the Slovak capital and offers a beautiful view over the city. Nowadays the City Museum is housed in the City Hall, and those who want to get to know Bratislava better should not miss it.

4. Devín Castle

Just eight kilometers from the Slovak capital, at the confluence of the Danube and the Morava River, is the majestic castle of Devín. It is situated on a cliff 200 meters high, and that is why the rulers of Moravia chose Devín as their residence back in 864, paying tribute to its convenient strategic location. Napoleonic troops blew up the magnificent castle, which helped repel many invasions in the course of its history. They were unable to blow everything up, and much of what remains testifies to the grandeur and impregnability of this proud citadel. And, of course, the picture of the confluence of two great rivers, each with its own color scheme, is simply mesmerizing.

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5. St. Martin’s Cathedral

The amazing history of St. Martin’s Cathedral, the largest cathedral in Bratislava, began as early as the eighth century when it was part of the fortifications of the medieval city. It was consecrated only in 1452 and its quadrangular tower is crowned with a helmet with St. Stephen’s golden crown on its roof as a symbol of its coronation status. In 1535 Bratislava became the capital. From 1563 to 1830, St. Martin’s Cathedral was the coronation church: 10 kings, 8 royal wives and the reigning empress Maria Theresia were crowned within its walls. Externally, the church resembles a Viennese church, the building and its decoration are made in neo-Gothic style.

6. Capuchin Church of St. Stephen

Capuchin Church of St. Stephen is a very elegant building, whose construction dates back to the eighteenth century. This church is made in a warm sandy color scheme, it is very recognizable and is quite close to the Old Town. On the square in front of it there is a pole with the sculpture of Madonna, and from Župná Square you can admire not only this austere, but very beautiful church, but also the famous Bratislava Castle.

7. Bratislava Presidential Palace

In 1765 Count Anton Grassalkovich, a friend of Queen Maria Theresia herself, commanded the construction of this majestic palace, which became the gathering place for aristocracy, where beautiful balls were conducted by Joseph Haydn, where beautiful romances were made and cunning intrigues were woven. It was only later that the Presidential Palace became the residence of Archduke Ferdinand, whose assassination started World War I, then the residence of Klement Gotvald, secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Slovakia, another residence of Josip Broz Tito, the Palace of Pioneers, and again the residence – this time of the President of the Slovak Republic. This is the status of the Grassalkovich Palace to this day.

8. Slavin Memorial Complex

The Slavin Memorial commemorates those who fell in the bloody slaughter of World War II, from which Slovakia, located in the middle of Europe, suffered heavily. The Wehrmacht war machine invaded it back in 1939, and it was liberated by the Soviet Army in 1944-45. The memorial complex appeared around a military cemetery where officers and soldiers who liberated the Slovak capital were buried. The first thing that immediately appears to visitors is a 42-metre high pylon with the figure of a soldier holding a banner in his raised hand. The entire memorial is divided into three parts. Oath to the Battle Banner (two march stairs with bas-reliefs) – the first. The second part – the Appreciation to the fallen heroes – represents the sculptures and graves. In total, 6845 of the fallen sleep eternal sleep in the cemetery. And the third – the funeral hall, which leads to the door with bas-reliefs depicting episodes of the liberation of the country.

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9. SNP Bridge

The SNP Bridge is one of the modern landmarks of ancient Bratislava, and indeed, its unsupported construction is something to marvel at! The New Bridge, now the SNP Bridge, dedicated to the Slovak Armed Uprising, spans the picturesque Danube, is also a pedestrian bridge and the view of the city from it is definitely worth enjoying. Also at 85 m is the main attraction of the bridge – the restaurant with the funny name UFO, which looks like a flying saucer that landed on it. There is also an observation deck, which can be reached by elevator in 45 seconds.

10. Bronze Plumber” sculpture

In Bratislava, in addition to the common sights, there are a lot of small and pleasant surprises on the streets. There is a bronze paparazzi pointing his camera lens at the entrance to a restaurant, a bronze French soldier sitting on a bench, but the bronze plumber who is watching people from the sewer manhole is better than all of them. If you rub his mirror polished helmet you will get your wish, just such “cool” plumbers in Bratislava!

11. Church of the Holy Spirit

The Church of the Holy Spirit is a Catholic church that attracts attention first and foremost with its unusual modern architectural design. The foundation stone was laid in 1995, during the visit of Pope John Paul II to Slovakia, and the church was consecrated in 2002. The church has a circular layout with a 30 meters high arrow-shaped dome. Near the altar is a forged image of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove.

12. Esterházy Palace and Slovak National Gallery

In Stare Mesto in Bratislava, on the banks of the Danube, one can find this wonderful example of neo-Renaissance architecture – the wonderful Esterházy Palace. Built in the 1870s, it was rebuilt in the mid 20th century to house the Slovak National Gallery, which uses the nearby Water Barracks to exhibit Slovak paintings, sculpture, graphics and crafts.

Bratislava’s main attractions

Bratislava is a small but cozy capital of Slovakia. The city has a rather unusual history, because for a long time it was the capital of Hungary, and experienced a strong Hungarian influence on the culture and architecture, which can still be seen in the historic buildings. After the creation of Czechoslovakia, the city lost its former importance, as Prague became the capital of the state. At that time, monuments of socialist modernism were built, but overall not much of the socialist heritage remains. What to see and where to go in the city is in this post.

After Slovakia declared independence in 1993, Bratislava is slowly fulfilling its potential, with new districts being built and all of its historic buildings restored. Bratislava’s compact location allows you to see all the sights within a short period of time, and then you can wander aimlessly through the narrow streets of the city center or head off to explore the distant countryside.

Highlights

Main square

The main square of Bratislava used to be called Market Square and was the site of the main events of the city at that time: fairs and executions. Fairs are still held here today, as well as city festivals and festivals. On the square you’ll find the Old Town Hall and Roland’s Fountain.

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Old Town Hall

Originally the town hall was built in Gothic style, but with the change of architectural trends it was rebuilt in Renaissance style. During its history it functioned as various administrative offices, including the town council and the archives. It is now a museum.

Roland’s Fountain

The Maximilian or Roland Fountain once had a practical function and supplied water to the inhabitants. The fountain is adorned with a statue of King Maximilian II, on whose orders the fountain was made, and the pedestal depicts some of the historical events of his reign.

St. Martin’s Cathedral

The medieval cathedral was built in the 15th century in the Gothic style with Baroque elements. The mix of styles is due to the fact that the cathedral was built over a century, during which time the architectural trends have changed. This is where the Hungarian kings were crowned when Bratislava was the capital of Hungary. Entrance to the cathedral is free.

Michael’s Gate

The only one of the four gates preserved from the Middle Ages. The gate was built to protect the city and strengthen the defense and is one of the oldest buildings in Bratislava. The dome and the statue were completed later. There is now a military museum and an observation deck inside.

Slovak National Theatre

One of the most famous buildings in Bratislava is the Slovak National Theatre, built in 1920 in the neo-Renaissance style. The square around the theater is always crowded, and the lively alley that leads to the Holy Trinity Plague Pillar, St. Martin’s Cathedral and the Danube promenade.

Fishermen’s Square

On this square is the Plague Pillar, erected to commemorate the end of the plague in the 18th century.

Church of the Clarisks

The church was built in the Gothic style – atypical for Bratislava – in the 14th century for nuns of the Clarisse order. The pentagonal tower was added later, since according to the canons of the order, churches were not supposed to have towers or any decorations.

Streets of the Old Town

The Old Town of Bratislava is not as large, but it is quite full of sights. In every street there is something interesting: a monument, an unusual building or a bronze sculpture. It is worth noting that the historical houses are maintained in good condition: all restored and maintained. After a tour of the Old Town, you can go to explore other areas.

Bratislava Castle

Bratislava Castle is situated on a hill, so it offers panoramic views of the city and its surroundings. Almost all the present buildings were reconstructed in the 20th century since the historical buildings of the 8th century were destroyed by a fire. Only the Sigismund Gates at the entrance to the fortress have remained intact. Currently, the garden around the castle is actively restored. Inside the castle, you can visit the Slovak Folk Museum where you can learn more about the history of Slovakia. Entrance to the castle is free.

From the castle hill we can see the Old Town with the towering St. Martin’s Cathedral, the SNP bridge over the Danube, and the Petrzalka residential district.

The SNP bridge

The SNP bridge is unusual in that it has no piers in the river and its observation deck resembles a flying saucer – which is why the bridge is also called UFO.

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Destroyed Jewish Quarter

The construction of the SNP bridge caused much controversy, as it required the demolition of the historic Jewish quarter, which was located on the site of the present highway. The border can now be traced back to the House of the Good Shepherd, behind which the quarter began and which is now gone.

Danube Embankment

The waterfront is one of the popular places for walks. Along the Danube River you can see the Old Bridge, the Historical Museum, and the Slovak National Gallery.

Church of St. Elisabeth

The unusual St. Elizabeth Church, also called the Blue Church, was built in 1909 in the Hungarian Secession style. Like other Art Nouveau monuments, it has many details and flowing lines, and the façade is decorated with a mosaic depicting St. Elizabeth. The interior is also done in white and blue colors. The church is active and admission is free.

The Presidential Palace

The Grassalkovich Palace – or Presidential Palace – is the residence of the Slovak president. The classic 18th-century palace is located on the spacious Europe Square, and the green Presidential Garden and the globe-shaped Liberty Fountain are nearby.

Prepare for a trip to Bratislava:

Find the cheapest tickets on the low-price calendar

Find an excursion with local Russian speaking guides.

Choose where to go next. For example to Vienna, Budapest or Zagreb.

Capuchin Church of St. Stephen.

A minimalist and neat 18th century church on Župná Square, built for Capuchin monks who came from Austria. The church is notable for the statue of the Madonna on the facade, the catacombs with burial places of the saints, and the observation deck which offers a view of the fortress.

Monument to the Plumber

At the intersection of Panska and Rybarska Streets there is an unusual monument to a plumber, called Zevalka (Slovak for “Chumil”). Staring out of the manhole, he watches people passing by. It is dedicated not only to the people of this profession, but also serves as a reminder of the times of World War II, when during the bombings the inhabitants hid in the sewers.

Slavin Memorial Complex

The memorial is dedicated to all those who died during World War II. Slovakia was occupied from 1939 to 1945 and liberated by the Soviet army. The memorial is located on the site of a war cemetery and consists of mass graves and burials of Soviet soldiers, a funeral hall and a stele with a statue of a soldier.

Kamzik TV Tower

The TV tower is located on the Kamzik Hill and is a unique observation point because on a clear day it overlooks four countries: Slovakia, Austria, the Czech Republic and Hungary. There are cafes and restaurants for visitors to the tower. You can get to it by 203 bus, and then walk through the woods. Nearby is the Slavin complex.

Socialist heritage

Being a part of Czechoslovakia, the country was strongly influenced by socialism, which was also reflected in its architecture. The city has several notable monuments of socialist modernism, chief among them the inverted cone-shaped radio building.

The second photo is from Wikipedia.

Modern buildings

Bratislava is also gradually being built up with new neighborhoods. Particularly active is the area near the bus station, where among the business centers and residential complexes are worthy examples of modern architecture.

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Excursions

There is much to see and do in Bratislava, so if you want to see the main things and hear more about the history and life of the city without wasting time, you should book a tour of Bratislava with a local Russian-speaking guide:

Surroundings

Devin Castle

If your visit to Bratislava consists of at least 2-3 days, you will have time to explore the surroundings as well. The dilapidated Devin Castle near Bratislava is an important landmark for the history of Slovakia, because it is one of the oldest historical buildings in the country. It offers beautiful views of the Danube and the place itself is quite picturesque. You can reach it on your own by car or by bus number 70. Entrance to the castle costs 5 euros, children discounts. You can also go to Devin as part of a guided tour.

The capitals of Austria and Slovakia are the closest to the capitals of Europe. Since Vienna is only 50 km away, it may be a good idea for a day trip from Bratislava or the next point on the itinerary. There are buses and electric trains to Vienna, and the best way to get there is to take an individual shuttle.

Budapest

The capital of Hungary is also nearby – only 200 kilometers away. A trip to Bratislava and Budapest is especially interesting to combine, because they were once cities of one state. There is a bus between them.

Cruises on the Danube

The most scenic way to explore the surroundings and visit neighboring cities is a river cruise on the Danube. Up-to-date offers are here.

Where to stay

In Slovakia, the prices of accommodation are low, but only relative to Western Europe. Compared to Budapest, for example, the choice of hotels and hostels is much less, and the price range is not so great. The best hostel I can recommend is Manderla Bratislava, located in the very center of the city. It’s also located in a historic building, but otherwise it’s pretty average. For one or two nights it’s a pretty good option.

Other places to stay are on Hotellook.

Where to eat

Despite the small size of the city, there are a number of decent cafes and restaurants. There are all the usual fast food chains and vegetarian places. In the old town you can easily find traditional restaurants with local food, it is better to be guided by the reviews on Google Maps. Personally, I can recommend an unusual Asian vegan cafe, where inexpensive and very delicious – Foodstock Bratislava.

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