Bratislava Old Town (Self Guided), Bratislava

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.
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Bratislava Old Town Map

Guide Name: Bratislava Old Town
Guide Location: Slovakia » Bratislava (See other walking tours in Bratislava)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 14
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.2 Km or 0.7 Miles
Author: hollyg
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Main Square
  • Napoleon's Army Soldier Statue
  • Old Town Hall
  • Bratislava City Museum
  • Primate's Palace
  • Old Slovak National Theater
  • Hviezdoslav Square
  • Schone Naci (Beautiful Ignaz) Statue
  • Cumil Statue
  • Palace of Erdody
  • Johann Pálffy Palace
  • Palace of Zichy
  • Leopold de Pauli’s Palace
  • Michael's Tower and Street
Main Square

1) 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.
Napoleon's Army Soldier Statue

2) Napoleon's Army Soldier Statue

The city of Bratislava is filled with unique bronze statues which pop out from the public areas to surprise the masses. Tourists on holiday to the city will want to plan some relaxing time exploring the metropolis and seeking out these fabulous little surprises. The statue of Napoleon’s Army Soldier is located on the main square leaning over a park bench. Visitors enjoy spending time having their pictures taken with the statue. In fact, this is one of the most popular photographic moments in Bratislava. The sculptor, Juraj Meliš, created a figure to commemorate the two occasions when Napoleon’s army entered the city during the 1800s.

The statue earned its name because of its pose. His crossed arms and French Napoleonic hat are reminiscent of Napoleon himself. Some of the other figures, which can be found around the city, are Cumil, Paparazzi and Schone Naci. These whimsical bronze statues are a result of a collaboration among local sculptors who were asked by the town government to add features which would help the city move away from its once austere and communistic appearance. After the first couple statues were installed, more followed, due to their popularity with the locals and tourists.
Old Town Hall

3) 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.
Bratislava City Museum

4) Bratislava City Museum

If there's a place to learn about Bratislava's history, it is undoubtedly the Bratislava City Museum. It first opened in 1868 and today prides itself as the oldest continuing running museum in Slovakia.

The collection includes archaeological finds, coins, ancient drugs that were once produced here as well as many other artifacts telling about the history of society, industry and culture of Bratislava. The Museum is open year round, six days a week except Mondays. Feel free to pop in and check out the exhibition.
Primate's Palace

5) 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 Slovak National Theater

6) Old Slovak National Theater

The Slovak National Theatre of drama, opera and ballet is an original neo-renaissance building that dates back to the 1880s and shows signs of Hungarian influence. It first opened to the public in 1886 with the seating capacity of 1,000 spectators. The more modern part of the building is a renovation project that lasted over 20 years from 1980 until April 2007; it can seat over 1,700 people. Both the new and the old buildings are used by the theater.
Hviezdoslav Square

7) 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.
Schone Naci (Beautiful Ignaz) Statue

8) Schone Naci (Beautiful Ignaz) Statue

Visitors to the city will enjoy searching for the many idiosyncratic statues which have been installed around the town. Schone Naci, or Beautiful Ignaz, represents life in the city at the turn of the century. The real Schone Naci was born in 1897. He was the son of a shoemaker. His eccentric spirit caused him to be memorialized. History says that he would stroll around the Old Town Bratislava, near Michael’s Gate and the Danube River. His attire included a top hat and tails. When he came upon women, he would say “I kiss your hand” in languages including Slovak, German and Hungarian.

The bronze statue greets people just as the real Schone Naci once did. Even though he was a man without financial resources of his own, it is said that he walked the streets of Bratislava dressed as if he were very wealthy. Tourists to the city can spend an entire day, strolling and exploring the streets of this beautiful city, searching for the many wonderful bronze pieces which have been strategically placed for the public to enjoy.
Cumil Statue

9) Cumil Statue (must see)

Čumil Statue was created by sculptor Viktor Hulík, and located at the intersection of Panska and Rybarska Brana streets, not far from Main Square in the Old Town. This bronze statue doesn't portray any particular person. Rather, it is a fruit of the author's imagination; the Čumil fella seems to be enjoying himself fully during a work break, sticking his head out of the manhole reportedly out of passion to observe - from down under - the lovely young ladies passing by. Čumil's head is a constant lure for children who simply adore rubbing it and perching atop.

On some occasions, the statue is said to have been damaged by the oncoming vehicles whose drivers didn't see where they go. Years in this place, Čumil has now earned himself a sign, reading “Man at Work”, which indeed he is posing daily for pictures of the numerous tourists coming to see him.
Palace of Erdody

10) Palace of Erdody

The Palace of Erdödy was built in 1770 by Mathew Walch. The building originally comprised four houses, which were initially occupied by Count George Leopold Erdödy, the head of the Hungarian Royal Chamber, and his family. The Erdödy family were decedents of Hungarian nobility with their genealogical lines dating back as far as the 14th century.

The grand structure was converted during the 19th century into a palace for the son of Count George Leopold Erdödy, Jan Nepomuk Erdödy. Originally, the building was erected with three floors and a fourth floor was added at the beginning of the 20th century. It has four wings and an immense central courtyard. The rooms have vaulted ceilings with rococo stucco. Over the years, the structure has been the home of Hungarian nobility, a concert hall and a government facility. The building is a great example of rococo style, which is acknowledged for its florid embellishments.

Today, the palace houses a selection of high-end cafes, restaurants, shops and boutiques amidst the historic sites of the town. Visitors to the municipality will appreciate spending the day exploring the many amazing buildings and varied architectural elements which make this place exceptional.
Johann Pálffy Palace

11) Johann Pálffy Palace

Johann Pálffy Palace (Slovak: Pálffyho or Pálfiho Palác) is a late Classicism-style building in the Old Town of Bratislava. Built originally for Count Leopold Pálffy, Count of Pozsony County and a Major General in the armed forces of Empress Maria Theresa, the palace is a good example of a Baroque architecture. Over the years, archeological digs have unearthed traces of a Gothic structure, which once stood on the grounds of the palace, along with Roman and Celtic artifacts.

The palace has had many uses, since it was first constructed as a home for Count Leopold Pálffy. It has been a government mint, the location of one of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s early concerts and the site of the Austrian embassy. Visitors will want to spend time visiting the on-site gallery, which displays a rich collection of the original paintings of Dutch and Flemish masters from the 17th and 18th centuries including, Rembrandt and Rubens.
Palace of Zichy

12) Palace of Zichy

The Palace of Zichy, or Ziciho Palac as you say in Slovak, represents a beautiful example of fine architecture from the end of the 18th century. It's situated in the historic center of Bratislava and designed in Neo-Classical style. The Palace was built in 1775 for Count Franz Zichy, who was the master of great composer Heinrich Marschner. This composer served as a teacher for the count's family. Now, the Palace of Zichy serves as a hall for wedding ceremonies.
Leopold de Pauli’s Palace

13) Leopold de Pauli’s Palace

Leopold de Pauli’s Palace was built by architect Franz K.Romisch for Leopold de Pauli in 1775-1776. The palace halls once filled with the brilliant and unforgettable music of Ferenz Liszt, who performed there in 1820. The Palace also features an amazing garden, where you can find a beautiful musical pavilion designed in Rococo style. Today, the musical pavilion and the palace itself are owned by the University Library.
Michael's Tower and Street

14) 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.

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