After this visit, I go back on dry land and settle down on the terrace of a nearby restaurant. After having enjoyed a typical local dish, I resume my visit of the city. I leave for a few moment the old town to find myself before the Grassalkovich Palace of Bratislava, residence of the President of the Slovak Republic and located next to the Summer Palace of the Archbishop. Conducted at the request of the Croatian count Anton Grassalkovich, who was at the service of the Hungarian monarchy, it has long been a center of Slovak culture. In the communist era, it was transformed into a “House of Pioneers” before becoming the Presidential Palace after the independence of Slovakia. In front of the main entrance of the building is a large and lovely fountain with a huge globe inlaid with doves symbolizing peace between peoples.
I then turns back toward the heart of the old town again, as there is nothing else to see in this part of the new town. In doing so, I reach a square around which are gathered several important monuments, such as St. Saviour Church, Protestant edifice built by the German community of Bratislava in 1638. Later, the church has undergone several modifications by the Jesuits to coat the Baroque style in 1672. Thus, the difference between the inside decoration, very rich and complex, and its exterior façade, simple and austere, is quite obvious to see. Another interesting thing to note is that the church has no steeple, as it was requested so by the King of Hungary who did not want to change the apperance of the area. But I wonder… A church without a steeple, it’s not really a church, is it?
Among other buildings on the square is the Primate Palace which is right next to the old city hall, the largest neo-classical building in Slovakia. Built in the late 18th century for the Hungarian bishop of Esztergom, it is in one of its room, the Hall of Mirrors, that Napoleon signed the Treaty of Pressburg, which ended the Austro-French war after the Battle of Austerlitz. The second floor of the Primatial Palace exhibits beautiful English tapestries from the 17th century. The tour is very interesting, but the pictures are not allowed.
Continuing towards the central square, I enter and then visit the Old Town Hall, the oldest building in Bratislava. Consisting of small white houses with red tile decorated with colorful mosaics and a gold and turquoise roof, the building now houses the Municipal Historical Museum of Bratislava which allows visitor to admire beautiful objects and fine restored dungeons, so new that it looks more like some hostel dorms than old cells!
I now reach the central and main square of the old town, very large and clean, and surrounded by colorful and beautifully decorated buildings. Some shops, as well as the most famous restaurants and hotels in the city are somewhere nearby, but the passing tourist will learn that it is better not to stop there, or be ready to spend more money than necessary! Now don’t get me wrong, these are great places, but the prices are definitely too high, at least for me and my wallet!