Finding A Hidden Gem Along The Blue Danube
Johann Strauss’s “The Blue Danube” may conjure up the vision of a beautiful waltz in Vienna, another hidden gem lies along the Danube River in Slovakia. While the Danube is not actually blue and Vienna is 80km west, there is good reason to add Bratislava, Slovakia to your itinerary, which is exactly what we did.
From Prague, we took an early morning RegioJet train to Bratislava. We decided to book a Business Class cabin (€31.80 roundtrip) which is the perfect way to enjoy the 4.5 hour morning ride in the comfort of adjustable leather seats with headrests and our own table. There is a power socket for each seat as well as free Wi-Fi. Since each compartment seats only four people we easily enjoyed the selection of Italian Illy coffee, espresso, lungs, latte macchiato, cappuccino as well as Ahmad Tea or fresh mint tea – all served complimentary!
Situated on the border of five countries – Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Austria and Ukraine – Slovakia has become a popular tourist destination.
For many years, the Czech Republic and Slovakia were combined as Czechoslovakia, a part of the Soviet Union’s Eastern Bloc. However, in 1989 the two countries ended the communist rule during the Velvet Revolution and peacefully dissolved Czechoslovakia. Slovakia became an independent state officially called the Slovak Republic with Bratislava as its capital.
Today, Slovakia is a member of the European Union, the Eurozone, the Schengen Area and NATO.
Overlooking the City of Bratislava and situated high above the Danube River, the Bratislava Castle was built in the 9th century and was the site for the crowning of eleven kings and eight queens. Today, this landmark is a popular attraction for its spectacular views of the city below as well as its exhibitions from the various Slovak National Museums.
Bratislava Old Town Square
Bratislava’s Main Square dates back to the 13th century. Today, it is the site of festivals, concerts and the annual Christmas Market. In the center of the Square is the Maximilian Fountain surrounded by the Old Town Hall that houses the Bratislava City Museum featuring the interior and original furnishings from the municipal court.
Slovak National Theatre
The Slovak National Theatre is housed in two separate buildings, the oldest of which is pictured above. Opened in 1886, the Neo-Renaissance structure features a unique 2,532 light chandelier.
St. Michael’s Gate
The 51m high tower of St. Michael’s Gate is the last preserved gate of the Bratislava medieval city fortification. The Gate’s foundation was laid some 700 years ago and once served as an entry into the city. The statue of St. Michael and the Dragon sits on top of the Tower. Surrounded by shops and restaurants, the Tower features the Museum of Weapons and City Fortification, an exhibition from the Bratislava City Museum.
The Church of Elizabeth (Blue Church)
Opened in 1908, The Church of St. Elizabeth, commonly known as Blue Church, is a Hungarian Secessionist Catholic Church consecrated to Elisabeth of Hungary. The art nouveau building is a popular tourist attraction for its sky blue facade and mosaics.
Sculptures & Statues
Walking around Bratislava, you will encounter numerous sculptures and statues – some historical and some quite whimsical!
UFO Bridge (Most SNP)
Spanning the River Danube, the 431 meter Slovak National Uprising Bridge (often referred to as Most SNP or the UFO Bridge) was the first asymmetrical suspension bridge constructed in the world.
On top of the bridge some 95 meters above and looking like a spacecraft, is the Observation Deck and restaurant. From the Observation Deck, you have a breathtaking panoramic view of the city below and surrounding countryside.
We hope this article inspires you to visit Bratislava and the beautiful country of Slovakia!
Have you been to Bratislava? Tell us about it!
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