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Slovakia: Bratislava Old Town

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Bratislava Old Town | Slovakia | Europe

[Visited: May 2011]

After having discovered other parts of Slovakia, it was time to get to know the capital city Bratislava on my last day in this Central European country. It promised to become a nice sunny summer day when I walked to the old town in the early morning, and I noticed almost no one around in the narrow, pedestrian-only streets. The white, yellow, green, and light purple buildings looked very attractive in the sun, and circling this old town turned out to be a pleasant activity. Not only were the old buildings interesting to see, but artists have added some present-day surprised for the visitor to discover, like different, odd sculptures at unexpected places: a photographer pointing his camera around a corner, and a joyful guy taking off his hat. Most famous is the Watcher, a sculpture of a smiling worker coming out of the street. I was all alone when I saw him for the first time.

Picture of Bratislava Old Town (Slovakia): View of Hlavné Namestie, the main square of the old town of Bratislava, on a sunny day

When I arrived at Hlavné Námestie, the main square of the old town of Bratislava, the sun had only just started to shed its light on the street. What a pretty square, still almost empty, with Roland's fountain prominently right in the middle, apparently once used as a supply of water for fire fighting, the old city hall, and the French embassy as the main drawcards. Here, too, an unusual sculpture: a French soldier leaning on one of the benches of the square, under a tree. It was tempting to sit on one of the benches myself, and see the square and the old town come alive, but I was too curious about the rest of the town, and continued walking the narrow streets. When I reached a small square next to St. Martin's Cathedral, I discovered an old building with copies of brightly coloured paintings of Van Gogh in the window shutters. This turned out to be the quiet area of the old town: empty streets with pastel-coloured houses, more modest than the buildings I had seen before.

Picture of Bratislava Old Town (Slovakia): Street with church in the background in the old town of Bratislava

With the sun still low, I decided it would be wise to move up to Bratislava Castle which was already basking in the sun. A short climb took me to one of the entrance gates, and I walked around the square, white castle with its red roof. It appeared still under reconstruction, so I had to content myself with a distant look and, to be honest, I had seen much more spectacular castles elsewhere in Slovakia. The views of the old town were perfect here, and it did not take long before I descended again and continued criss-crossing the streets of the old town. By now, they had filled with people; there were actually lines of people waiting to have their picture taken at the Watcher, the squares had filled with visitors, and I soon realized that the disadvantage of such a compact old town is that it does not take many visitors to flood it. While licking an tasty ice cream, I decided to visit other parts of the city before coming back when, indeed, the crowds had already decreased. Bratislava probably is a day trip for many visitors, even though there is, of course, more to see and experience than just the pretty old town.

Picture of Bratislava Old Town (Slovakia): Small plaza in front of Bratislava Castle in the early morning
Picture of Bratislava Old Town (Slovakia): Looking up sculpture of French soldier with French embassy in the background
Picture of Bratislava Old Town (Slovakia): Quiet square next to St. Martin's cathedral
Picture of Bratislava Old Town (Slovakia): The Watcher is the most photographed sculpture of the old town of Bratislava
Picture of Bratislava Old Town (Slovakia): One of the buildings on the main square of the old town in the early morning
Picture of Bratislava Old Town (Slovakia): One of the prominent buildings of the old town of Bratislava
Picture of Bratislava Old Town (Slovakia): Kostol Najsvátejšieho Spasiteľa seen from the Primaciálné Námesti
Picture of Bratislava Old Town (Slovakia): Sculpture of French soldier leaning on a bench of the main square of the old town of Bratislava
Picture of Bratislava Old Town (Slovakia): One of several sculptures in the old town of Bratislava, this one takes his hat off
Picture of Bratislava Old Town (Slovakia): The Slovak National Theatre is on the eastern side of the old town centre of Bratislava
Picture of Bratislava Old Town (Slovakia): Detail of Roland's Fountain on Hlavné Námestie, the central square of the old town
Picture of Bratislava Old Town (Slovakia): One of the houses in the old city centre of Bratislava
Picture of Bratislava Old Town (Slovakia): Michael Tower, or Michalská veža, stands to the north of the old town of Bratislava

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