Lulina myseľ: Bratislava - Pressburg - Pozsony. Three names, one city
Recently I read a blog written by two sisters who visited Bratislava. What was interesting about this blog was Slovakia´s history. They have completely changed it! Anyways, it is also one of few blogs where someone writes about a trip to Bratislava and that´s why I´ve decided to write a blog where I´ll tell you curiosities, legends and stories from the history of this beautiful city. By the way, if you are interested in reading a nice blog about our beautiful capital city, I recommend to visit my friend´s blog andreastravelsandmore.
Places that offer the most stunning views
In the downtown you´ll find my favorite lookout from the Old Town Hall and another one is from the Michael´s Gate. Both of the towers are a part of a museum and sometimes in the Old Town Hall is an exposition of torture devices because back in the days there used to be a torture chamber. I highly recommend that.
Another amazing view you´ll get at Bratislava Castle, Devin Castle, Observation deck UFO or from the Slavin memorial. Talking about Bratislava Castle, in 1811 was set in fire. As a result one of the towers burnt down (I´m not telling you which one, make a guess). However I will tell you how it happened. In that time the Castle was a quarter for soldiers who accidentally set the fire. There´s more stories about how it happened but I like this one the most: it was cause by Italian soldiers who were preparing their meal. And what do Italians like? Wine. So, as they were cooking the meal, they opened the bottle of wine (two, three…), completely forgot about cooking and vualá they set a fire. Another fun fact is that the Castle had been fully reconstructed after 200 years in 2011.
Talking about fun facts, the Observation deck UFO is located on a bridge that has several names. Officially it is called Bridge of the Slovak National Uprising, but also as the UFO Bridge or the New bridge. This bridge was built during socialism and during it´s construction Bratislava´s Jewish town including a synagogue had been destroyed. And talking about bridges I have to mention our legendary Old Bridge on which we used to walk on our way from festivals that took place on Petržalka´s riverside on our own responsibility. It was dozy, some wood decks were missing and it was shaking especially if there was a crowd of people passing. These days there is a new Old Bridge so you won´t feel the excitement while walking on it. But the view is nice.
Some curiosities and legends
Bratislava´s city center is connected by several bridges with the neighborhood Petržalka. Do you know what is interesting about Petržalka? It is the biggest neighborhood in the Central Europe and Janko Kráľ Park is the oldest public park of the Central Europe. And talking about Europe, under the Michael´s Gate there is the narrowest house of the Eastern Europe: it´s wide only 130cm (51inches).
There used to be city walls around Bratislava´s city center in the past and there were only four gates that lead inside of the town. These days there is only one still standing, Michael´s Gate. It´s devided into two arcs: the bigger one and the smaller one. Let me tell you why. Behind this gate, Bratislava´s hangman used to live – even today you´ll find there a bat U Kata (At the Hangman´s). The hangman as a person doing executions was considered as someone who is “dirty” and that´s why the smaller arc was for him while passing the gate. A little bit discriminating, isn´t it? This gate was the city border and what was happening at the city borders during the Middle Ages? Witches were burnt there.
The first Bratislava´s witch was Agatha Toth Borlobaschin. And here is the story why she got burnt. The legend says that Agatha had a friend Barbara and both of them fell in love with the same guy. The guy had chosen Agatha and Barbara was jealous because of it. A typical woman. Of course she made up some stories about Agatha and told everyone that she was a witch, flies on the broomstick, talks to the devil and that she had sewn one frog´s eyes to blind a woman. Agatha was tortured, she had confessed everything and then she got burnt. Are you wondering what had happened to Barbara? During burning her friend Barbara was in the Michael´s tower watching her friend dying. The legend says Barbara appears there every day at midnight and looks at the place where her friend had died.
Let´s talk about something happier. In the middle of the Main Square you can find the Roland´s fountain. Roland was a well-known knight who would day play on his hunting-horn every day as a lullaby for children. Every time he came to Bratislava, he would come to the Main Square and play for children in the evening. Unfortunately, one day he died and there was no one to play for children and so they could not fall asleep. And so, their parents decided to build the Roland´s statute so children could have seen him before they went to sleep.
I´m pretty sure all of you know the Carlton Hotel. Did you also know that in Bratislava´s Carlton people as Thomas Alva Edison, Alfred Nobel, Theodor Roosevelt, or Jules Verne stayed over a night? To honor Jules Verne you can find a cafeteria Verne opposite of the hotel. But let´s get back to the hotel for a bit now. Back in the days, for some time it´s owner was an architect Henry Pruger. Interesting fact about this man is, that he designed two rooms of Titanic. And why are we talking about Titanic now? Because everyone who comes to Slovakia should taste our local wines. At the times when Titanic departed, the Jakub Palugyay´s winery in Bratislava´s Rača was the only place after France where sparkling wine was produced by method champenoise (traditional method). Our wine was that famous that it was also on Titanic´s wine list. That´s pretty cool, right?
Do you know what was not cool? Napoleon´s 40th birthday. I mean, he celebrated it two months in advance but in a big way. Long story short: he bombarded Bratislava and until today you can find one of his cannon balls in the walls of the Old Town Hall. Honestly, I am surprised it still stands.
Three Bratislava´s men
Few years ago you would find these three men in the historical center: Schöner Náci, Čumil (The Watcher), and Paparazzi. However, Paparazzi is not here anymore because he has been relocated to the Observation deck UFO. Let´s have a talk about them.
Schöner Náci was a son of the shoemaker who enjoyed walking through Bratislava´s streets. Despite he was poor, he´d be always well-dressed and he liked to give flowers to women, he´d bow and take off his hat to show respect. That´s why there´s this legendary hat on his statue where people like to takes pictures.
Čumil or the Watcher in English, is a statue of a man in the canal. By the way, it is the only statue of a man in canal in the whole Europe and the reason why he´s in the canal is… none? Exactly, there is no reason. The statue was put there as a joke because we thought it´d be funny (Slovaks are joking that this statue represents us during the work – sitting and waiting for the end of the shift) but in reality The Watcher has no reason. The most funniest thing about him is, that people love him and it is the most photographed place in Bratislava. Straight next to him you can find a sign “Man at work”. Do you know why we had to put it there? Well, sometimes cars pass through these streets and sometimes they overlook The Watcher and then… You know what happens. Anyways, somebody came up with an idea that if you touch his head it brings you a good luck. That´s why his head is so shiny.
Statue of Paparazii used to be on the corner of Radničná and Laurinská street at the coffee place called after him, Paparazii. But once it was shut down, the owner let the statue to be relocated to the Restaurant UFO.
The most important at the end: Slovak cuisine
Traditional Slovak meal is bryndzové halušky. Ideally you drink with it a sheep´s whey and then once you realize that it´s a super killing combo for your stomach, I recommend to have a shot of Slovak hard liquor, like slivovica. Of course half of the Slovaks don´t drink it anymore because we´ve drank so many of it already that we can barely sniff it and don´t get sick. That´s why in Slovakia we distill all kinds of fruit, not only plumbs: apples, apricots, peaches, cherries, pears, blueberries… And then here is the most famous Slovak combo: a beer with borovička (borovička is a shot of a hard liquor). Talking about alcohol while in Slovakia you have to try our local wines and I also recommend to try our blueberry wine or burčiak if you come here during the fall. And here is one historical fact about Slovak wines. During Austro-Hungarian Empire Bratislava was a coronation place. Ten kings and one queen had been crowned here and during these celebration all the Bratislava´s fountains were filled with wine instead of water. In terms of non-alcoholic drinks you should try our Slovak version of Coca Coca – Kofola or a flavored grape drink Vinea. Both of them are very popular in Slovakia.
At the end I´ll cite a writer Hans Christian Andersen who also visited Bratislava back in the days. He said: ”Your city is a fairy tale.” What a nice man. So we built him a statue. You can find it close to the coffee place Verne.