Bratislava Castle – The Capital’s Show Stopper

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Nestled in the historic (and present) hub of the Slovak capital, Bratislava Castle is one of the most important monuments to the country’s heritage. Today, it’s a dominant feature of the city where it resides, but it also boasts a rich history that dates back all the way to 907. Let’s look at how it’s faring in the world today:

Bratislava is a total survivor, as showcased by the fact that it never fell–even during the great Tartar Invasions of the 13th century.

The front view of Bratislava Castle in the Slovak capital.
The front of Bratislava Castle. Bratislava Castle flickr photo by Kurayba shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Frequently Asked Questions

FOR HISTORY | BEAUTIFUL IMAGES | INTERESTING FACTS | TRAVEL TIPS

Early History

Back to the Origins

Bratislava Castle occupies a highly strategic location and first made its appearance in history via the Annals of Salzburg in 907. However, archaeological evidence dictates that the place had been occupied by Stone, Bronze, and Iron Age settlements as well. From Celtic tribes to Roman settlements that bordered the area, the location of Bratislava has been a veritable hub and beating heart ever since its first iteration as a fortified encampment of the Celts.

A 17th-century painting of Bratislava Castle.
A 17th-century painting of Bratislava Castle.

Reincarnations through History

The Bratislava Castle that we see today has undergone several refurbishments and additions over the years. The Slavic people built it as a center of power when the great Moravian Kingdom was at the height of its power.

The 11th century saw it become an important part of the Hungarian State, and thus, a church and chapter house were added. The 12th century saw the incursion of a new stone building. During the 13th century, the addition of two stone towers made even more of an overall impact on the changing architecture of the castle. However, it wasn’t until the 15th century that the true revamp took place.

The gate to Bratislava Castle.
The gate to Bratislava Castle. Slovakia-03077 – A Castle Gate flickr photo by archer10 (Dennis) shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

The Gothic Re-establishment (15th Century)

The monarchy of Sigismund of Luxembourg saw the country’s administration being relocated to Bratislava from Buda. Hence, the castle was given a total revamp as construction to keep out the Hussite forces. The changes included the eastern entrance and the addition of fortifications that were a whopping 7 meters (23 ft) thick.

The Renaissance Enactment (16th Century)

Ferdinand I was the reigning monarch in the 16th century, he ordered a Renaissance-style revamp of Bratislava Castle. This is also when the “Jewel Tower” on the southeast side was added to the existing structure. It was christened so because it housed the Hungarian Coronation Jewels.

Bratislava castle interior.
Bratislava castle interior. castle interior flickr photo by cyanocorax shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Baroque Makeover (17th Century)

Bratislava became the seat of power of Pálffy (the provincial chief of the time), starting an entirely new chapter of refurbishment. Bratislava Castle was madeover in the Baroque style this time.

Maria Theresa, the reigning queen of the time, later had the entire castle tweaked to fit the tastes and lifestyle of her son-in-law, the governor of Saxony and Tessen.

A painting of Maria Theresa.
A painting of Maria Theresa. Dennis Jarvis from Halifax, Canada, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Current Times

Bratislava Castle is an important part of Slovakia’s legacy. The last time it saw a major revamp was in 1953. Progress was slow, and it wasn’t until the 60s that it was finally completed. The new construction was remodeled to house the Slovak National Museum, while some of the other parts of the castle were used as the government representative offices. It’s also an attractive tourist destination that has become a must-visit for anyone who visits Slovakia.

The view outside Bratislava Castle.
The view outside Bratislava Castle.

Interesting Bratislava Castle Facts

  • Stephen I, the first Hungarian King, had the name of Bratislava Castle recorded on the coins that were used at the time (1000-1038).
  • Bratislava is a total survivor, as showcased by the fact that it never fell–even during the great Tartar Invasions of the 13th century.
  • Albert, the son-in-law of Maria Theresa, was an ardent art collector, and Bratislava was reworked to hold his collections. The collections were later transferred to Vienna.
  • Bratislava once housed the General Seminary on the behest of Joseph II in 1783, but it was short-lived. It was immediately closed upon his death.

Visiting Bratislava Castle – Tips and Tricks

Bratislava is an excellent destination for history and architecture buffs alike, but it also has some stunning views and an experience for every tourist out there. Here’s everything you need to know about getting there:

Visiting tourists around Bratislava Castle.
Visiting tourists around Bratislava Castle. Bratislava Castle flickr photo by Erik Cleves Kristensen shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

How to get to Bratislava Castle?

The castle is an easy destination to visit if you’re in the city of Bratislava. It’s a 15-minute walk from the city center on foot. If you’d rather not, then take a 2-minute taxi ride to the entrance for just €3.5-€5.3 ($4-$6 USD).

Ticket Prices, Visiting Hours & Travel Tips

Bratislava Castle can be visited all year round. The summer schedule runs from April 1st to October 31st, with visiting hours of 10:00 am to 6:00 pm daily. The winter schedule,from November 1 to  March 31st, is 9:00 am to 5:00 pm daily.

The Bratislava Card will get you free or discounted entrance to attractions throughout the city, with specifically free entrance to Bratislava Castle. There are 3 types of cards that you can avail of: a 24-hour period of access for €20 ($23 USD), 48 hours for €25 ($29 USD), or 72 hours for €28 ($32 USD).

The garden at Bratislava Castle Grounds.
The garden at Bratislava Castle ground. 10 – Bratislava – Castle – 11 flickr photo by Hemant Bedekar shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

How Long Will It Take to Tour Around?

2 hours are enough to visit Bratislava Castle in its entirety.

Some words of advice and tips: 

  • If you’re planning to walk there, then don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes.
  • If you want the best pictures, then you should definitely climb up the tower.
  • Guided tours can be availed in both English and Slovak, so choose accordingly.

Quick Video Tour of The Main Bratislava Castle Areas

Zunaira Ghazal
Zunaira Ghazal
Zunaira is an architect and designer on paper, but a writer at heart. She’s got a Bachelors in Architecture and a passion for traveling, both of which combine in her writings about timeworn castles and fortresses that have withstood the tests of time and stand proud to this day.

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