Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Slovakia: Early evening walk around Bratislava's Old Town

A castle on a hill next to the Danube, churches, towers and grandiose institutional buildings are just some of the things you will see as you walk around the medieval Old Town of Bratislava, the historic center of Slovakia's capital. No negative vibes from the horror movie Hostel could scare us from visiting charming Bratislava. In fact, Bratislava was very pleasant and walking around the Old Town was a really nice experience.

Unfortunately for us, the sun sets a bit earlier in this part of Europe. And since it was November, that was quite early. Driving all the way from Budapest, we thus arrived at sunset. After finding a place to park our car, we immediately rushed over to the Old Town to explore what we could with the little time we had left as we were spending the night in Vienna, Austria.

We got to see Bratislava Castle down from where we were. The first structure that greeted us was St. Martin's Cathedral (Dóm sv. Martina), the largest church in Bratislava. This Gothic cathedral, which dates back to 1204, was the coronation place of several Hungarian kings.

As we made our way to the Main Square (Hlavné námestie) where the Old Town Hall (Stará radnica) is located, we got to see Michael's Gate (Michalská brána), the only city gate that remains of Bratislava's medieval fortifications.

By the time we reached the Main Square, it was quite dark. The Old Town Hall was easily recognizable with its colorfully tiled roof. Around the square, you could see that they were almost done constructing stalls for the Christmas market. At the center of the square is Roland Fountain, built in 1572 by order of Maximilian II, the king of Hungary, as a public water supply.

Beside the Old Town Hall is the Holy Saviour Church or the Jesuit Church. The main door was still open to allow people to pray. But the gates that secured the main nave was already locked and the lights turned off.

Since we didn't see much and wanted to make the most of our Bratislava experience, we made sure to have a Slovak dinner. I had Kapustové Strapačky (sauerkraut dumplings w/ bacon) and Sedliacke Opekané Zemiaky S Cibulkou (country-style roasted potatoes w/ onions). The dumplings actually remind me of gnocchi.

So many places to return to if ever I get to visit Europe anytime soon! For more photos of Bratislava, Slovakia check out the Ivan About Town FB page.

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