Bratislava Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Bratislava

Slovakian capital Bratislava straddles the river Danube right at the Austrian and Hungarian border. The closeness of these two countries has had its toll on the city's long and often tumultuous history in which the Austrians, Croats, Czechs, Germans, Hungarians, Jews, Serbs and Slovaks have played their role. It wasn't until 1919 that the city, prior to that known as Pressburg, got its contemporary name. This walk covers some of the most prominent sights of the historic part of Bratislava.
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Bratislava Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Bratislava Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Slovakia » Bratislava (See other walking tours in Bratislava)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.4 Km or 2.1 Miles
Author: hollyg
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Bratislava Castle
  • St. Martin's Cathedral
  • New Bridge and UFO Observation Deck
  • Hviezdoslav Square
  • Blue Church
  • Primate's Palace
  • Old Town Hall
  • Main Square
  • Michael's Tower and Street
  • Obchodna Street
Bratislava Castle

1) Bratislava Castle (must see)

Bratislava Castle is the huge rectangular fortress with four corner towers, standing atop a rocky hill directly above the river Danube right in the middle of Bratislava. Strategically positioned to ensure safe passageway between the Carpathians and the Alps, for many centuries it had guarded crossing over the Danube at the intersection of the old central European trade routes – most notably the amber route – running from the Rhine River valley and the Baltic Sea down to the Balkans and the Adriatic Sea.

In good weather the Castle allows outstanding view of not only Bratislava, but also the neighboring Austria and Hungary. Many legends are associated with the Castle, which has found place in the historical and cultural heritage of both Hungarians and Germans, due to its connection to Hungary and the Hapsburg monarchy.
St. Martin's Cathedral

2) St. Martin's Cathedral (must see)

St. Martin’s Cathedral is the oldest and largest cathedral in the area. The history of it is long and closely associated with the Austro-Hungarian royals who used it as a coronation church. Emperors and Empresses such as Leopold I, Maximilian II, Rudolf II, Matthias, Elisabeth Christine and Maria Theresa where all crowned here. The massive spire of the cathedral dominates the city’s skyline reinforced by the bold Gothic features. The incredible stained glass windows also deserve mention.

The Cathedral's bell tower displays replica of a Hungarian Crown, while the alter features a massive statue of St. Martin on horseback dressed up in Hungarian regalia, sculpted by Georg Rafael Donner in 1744. Just as many other buildings of that period, the cathedral has survived several fires. Each time it burned down, the ensued reconstruction brought in a mix of new architectural styles which are now visible all over the place. Inside the chapel there are catacombs holding the remains of many prominent Austo-Hungarian historic figures laid down to rest.
New Bridge and UFO Observation Deck

3) New Bridge and UFO Observation Deck (must see)

If there's anything unmistakably Bratislavan in the city, it is definitely the New Bridge across the Danube. This is the only bridge in the world being included in the World Federation of Great Towers. It is the longest cable-supported suspension bridge of its kind and the first asymmetrical bridge ever built. Completed in 1972, it was originally named the Bridge of the Slovak National Uprising. Today it is simply referred to as the New Bridge.

Made of steel, it fascinates onlookers mostly with the oval, UFO-like platform above its asymmetrical pylon. The platform in fact houses a restaurant. Apart from flying 95 meters above the bridge, the restaurant is popular for the sweeping views of the city. If you ever wish to visit this restaurant, you'd have to take an elevator.
Hviezdoslav Square

4) Hviezdoslav Square

Hviezdoslav Square is all about music. Mainly this is due to the presence of two grand music venues, the old Opera House and Slovak Philharmonic, and the open-air music stage for pop, folk and jazz. The square bears the name of Slovakia's prominent poet, Pavol Ország Hviezdoslav, whose monument stands right here. The square is a popular spot with the locals who love to come here for a walk or to sit in the nearby park, particularly in summer, and enjoy the greenery, fountains, as well as numerous pubs and cafes surrounding the place. In winter the place is just as popular due to the Christmas market that provides great festive atmosphere.
Blue Church

5) Blue Church (must see)

The Hungarian Secessionist Catholic Church, known as the Church of St. Elisabeth or the Blue Church, is located in Old Town Bratislava. The construction was consecrated to Elisabeth of Hungary, who was a princess and, later, became a Roman Catholic saint. She was widowed young and surrendered her wealth for a life devoted to the poor and indigent. After her death at the age of 24, many miracles of healing were accredited to her. She was canonized by Pope Gregory IX in 1235.

Built in 1908, the structure was designed by Odon Lechner, a recognized Hungarian architect. He was known to embellish his constructions with Zsolnay tile patterns. Zsolnay tiles were manufactured by a Hungarian company known for its intricate porcelain, tiles, stoneware and pottery. The tiles on the church’s roof were generated using the pyrogranite process, which involves firing ceramic under exceptionally high temperatures, producing resilient materials which are resistant to acid and frost. The structure has attained its name because of the blue color of the mosaics, which decorate its roof and walls.

The building features a cylindrical tower and bell dome common to the Hungarian Art Nouveau and the Romanesque movement in art and architecture. The single nave church contains vaulted ceilings along with hints of barrel vaults. Romanesque double pillars encompass the entrances and the windows.
Primate's Palace

6) Primate's Palace

Primate's Palace (or Primacialny palac as they call it) was created between 1778 and 1781 by architect Melchior Hefele for the Archbishop of Bratislava József Batthyány. The palace is famous for its Hall of Mirrors that has hosted many historic events over the centuries, including the signing of the fourth Peace of Pressburg in 1805 after the Battle of Austerlitz which effectively ended the War of the Third Coalition.
Old Town Hall

7) Old Town Hall

The Old Town Hall of Bratislava is an excellent example of Gothic architecture and was originally built in the 1300s. It stands between Main Square and Primate’s Square and was originally designed to accommodate soldiers guarding the fortress surrounding the medieval town. During the Renaissance period, the building underwent transformation after being damaged by earthquake and then fire. Its beautifully tiled roof is now one of most recognizable city's landmarks.

In the course of the centuries the building had been used as a prison, mint, market, archive and arsenal until it finally became a Town Hall. Today it houses the Bratislava City Museum, featuring a collection of historic artifacts including cannonballs, dungeon instruments of torture and antique weaponry. One cannonball is of particular interest to visitors. You can find it embedded in the tower wall. It has been there since 1809 during bombardment of the city by the invading Napoleon troops.
Main Square

8) Main Square (must see)

Main Square (or Hlavne Namestie) is the center of the Old Town and a home to several key historic local landmarks, namely: the Stará Radnica (Old Town Hall) and the Roland Fountain. The Old Town Hall was partially built in the 14th century; its highlight is undoubtedly the clock tower that is visible from all over the city. The nearby Maximillian Fountain features a 10,5 meter statue of Roland the knight, protector of Bratislava. Legend has it that every New Year at a stroke of midnight, the statue – otherwise facing the new Town Hall – turns around and bows toward the Old Town Hall building. The latter is also quite famous for having a cannonball stuck in its wall, fired by the advancing Napoleonic troops back in 1809. The bronze statue of Napoleon himself, leaning over a bench, is also located nearby.
Michael's Tower and Street

9) Michael's Tower and Street (must see)

Michael’s Gate is one of the last pieces of medieval architecture in Bratislava and a gateway to the Old Town that was once surrounded by a massive fortified wall. That fortress had four gates in each direction. St. Michael’s Tower was part of the northern entrance and was built around the year 1300. In 1758, it was remodeled with the added baroque features and the statue of St. Michael and the Dragon placed at the top where it still remains.

Michael's Gate was the centerpiece of a larger fortification system which included two rings of city walls, two bastions, a barbican and a drawbridge over the water moat.

Today, the Tower holds an exhibition of old weapons. Apart from the weaponry, visitors to the Tower can also enjoy a magnificent view of the city opening from the top. Down below at the Michael's Street, visitors will be greeted with a variety of high-end stores and restaurants.
Obchodna Street

10) Obchodna Street

Obchodná Street is the main shopping artery of Bratislava and one of the busiest streets of the city. It stretches from St. Michael's Tower in the north to Kollárovo Square in the south. Initially it was named Schöndorfs Street after the Schöndorf suburb that used to be located nearby. Many oldest houses here date back to the 18th century. The area grew popular after the World War I when a large number of merchants and craftsmen came to set up shops here.

Today, Obchodna street is a buzzing thoroughfare full of shops and restaurants. Not far from the Crown Plaza Hotel it intersects with Post Street which is another popular street much loved by the locals. Post Street is a pedestrian zone.

Walking Tours in Bratislava, Slovakia

Create Your Own Walk in Bratislava

Create Your Own Walk in Bratislava

Creating your own self-guided walk in Bratislava is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Bratislava Old Town

Bratislava Old Town

The city of Bratislava can amaze you with its history. The special charm of the Old Town of Bratislava will leave you absolutely dazzled by the beauty of it all. It's possible to find anything to your taste here. Wonderful architecture, fine examples of art, lots of information on science and the history of Bratislava Old Town -- all will give you a real Slovakian experience.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.2 Km or 0.7 Miles
Bratislava Architectural Jewels

Bratislava Architectural Jewels

Owing to the fact that the Danube Road connected Western Europe with the Orient, Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, has always been influenced by European art and culture. Visitors to the city can admire its Gothic and Baroque architecture, along with the splendid 20th century buildings. Don't miss the chance to explore Bratislava's great architectural variety!

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.5 Km or 2.2 Miles
Historical Churches

Historical Churches

Religious Buildings of Bratislava are not just architectural monuments and historic treasures, but also beautiful places that convey a religious atmosphere and spiritual mood. Seize the opportunity to become a part of harmony by visiting Bratislava religious buildings.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 Miles