Monday, July 06, 2009

Bratislava, Slovakia

One of the highlights (do I say that about everything?) of the trip I took with my mom and sister was a day excursion from Vienna to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. This city has a often troubled, but rich history. Our local guide was a wonderful source of information about life under the communist rule and then afterwards.
Before the fall of communism in 1989, our guide told us that all of the historic buildings in the old town were neglected, like the one on the left. Those who owned the homes when the communist rule began represented the opposite of a communist/socialist society and the buildings were not valued. Instead, enormous and soulless apartment complexes were built on the outskirts of town. They stand today, in use, of course, but now they are being painted bright colours and people are planting trees and flowers to add character.

In the old town, houses are being restored, as seen on the right above. There are few dilapidated buildings remaining and our guide told us this is only because of legal issues in determining ownership of the buildings. The descendants of those who owned the homes prior to 1948 are being sought out to take possession once again.

I did not realize that Bratislava was the town where the monarchs of the Hapsburg Empire were crowned. We walked along the coronation route, marked by these brass crowns set into the paving stones, to St. Martin's Church, where the coronations of 11 monarchs took place. What a sense of history - to walk where Maria Theresa, mother of Marie Antoinette, walked.

An enormous castle stands over city upon a hilltop overlooking the Danube River. It's undergoing extensive repairs and we were unable to visit it. Even the manhole covers on the streets represent the castle and its history.

These are the former stables of the castle. Yellow was Maria Theresa's favourite colour and many of the buildings in Austria and here in Bratislava are yellow. The colour came to be known as "Imperial Yellow."

The delicate iron work on the buildings is enchanting. And the pastries...yum!


A very blurry photo of a very wonderful cake eaten in the main plaza of Bratislava.
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1 comment:

Carole said...

Hi Lorrie,
OMG !!! I'm catching up on your blog (on all my favourite blogs, in fact) and I just see that you've been to Bratislava as well !!! I updated my blog this morning and I put up some of my pics (more to come later !)
When exactly were you there ? It would be funny if I had been there at the same time !
I also LOVE the yellow houses ; you can find them everywhere in Hungary as well. I will post more about my stay in Slovakia tomorrow, and write about food (I put on a lot of weight there !!)
It's nice to see your pictures and a totally different point of view from the city (I had not noticed the crowns and castles on the ground !)