All about Bratislava
Carved casks in wine cellar of a Slovak producer. (© Renáta Sedmáková Fotolia.com)
There was a time when the stretch of land between Bratislava and Trnava was the most important road in this part of the world. Roman chariots roamed up and down, carrying a precious libation, brewed by Bacchus himself, all the way from Gerulata, to the table of the emperor. Today, this is called the Small Carpathian Wine Route – no longer a royal site, but a sight for sore eyes, nevertheless.
Visitors to the south-west of Slovakia will no doubt note the unique qualities that make the region so universally appealing. At once medieval, and at the same time clean and modern today, this place was inhabited since Neolithic times. The area grew expansively once the Romans took over. What they brought with them, the winemaking tradition Slovakia is now noted for, is one of Bratislava’s, and the country’s most cherished activities. The Small Carpathian Wine Route is a part of this tradition, and travelers to this region have enjoyed it for generations, albeit their passion is not noted in detail by many travel guides.
Perhaps the limited access to some of the villages here explains why not many tourists dare to pursue a tour of the Small Carpathian Wine Route. If you don’t have your own car, Modra, with its celebrated Manor House, which holds a handicraft market for Christmas, and some other interesting wine-related activities around the season, is out of reach. But specialized touring companies have no trouble taking you there, and if you are an experienced hiker, there are many resources, including detailed maps, to help you find your way around.
An experiential tour that combines wine, countryside, history, and the exceptional gastronomy of the region between Bratislava and Trnava, the Small Carpathian Wine Route proposes a rich bounty. What was once part of the Great Moravian Empire, is today a treat of another kind. Strung along this wine route, the towns of Pezinok, Modra, and Jur, all take part with their unique wine production techniques and idiosyncrasies. But no matter which town you find yourself in, you’ll discover not only fine quality wine but people who speak of centuries-old excellence and goodness.
The Small Carpathian Wine Route is not well known outside Slovakia: only about 0.3% of all European wine comes from here. Nevertheless, some wines are exported and enjoyed abroad, in particular, the sweet varieties blended with beet sugar: Nitrianske knieža (Knight of Nitra), Kláštorné červené (Red from Monastery) and some other refined creations. These and the more traditional libations are served all over the region, even in the fine restaurants surrounding our magnificent Mamaison Residence Sulekova.
Beginning in November, on Deň otvorených pivníc, the cellars of the region open all around the Small Carpathian mountainous region, with top varietals; Veltlinske Zelene, Rizling Vlassky, Frankovka Modra, Rizling Rynsky and Modry Portugal, to name a few of the more famous. About 80 wineries participate in the event, and many other small cellars along the route open their doors to show their fine winemaking traditions. But, for first-time partakers, the Malokarpatské múzeum Pezinok (Small Carpathian Museum Pezinok), 20 km northeast of Bratislava, is the best to take in the history of viticulture and winery under the Small Carpathians. The museum offers a tour of the cellar, a permanent collection of wine-press machines from Central Europe – the largest of its kind, as well as tastings of local wines. If you are in the region, don’t miss the cellars of the Pezinok Castle, a former moated fortress turned chateau, which are now home to the National Wine Salon (Národný salón vín Slovenskej Republiky).
In Častá, on the same route, this time 37 km NE of Mamaison Residence Sulekova Bratislava, you will find Hrad Červený Kameň, a 13th-century castle which houses wine tastings and an art exhibition at the wine-cellars day in May, when the season opens. Widely considered the most beautiful castle in the Little Carpathians, Hrad Červený Kameň was built at the request of Queen Konstancia Uhorska, on her own land, before 1240. The original construction was modernized by Rudolf Palfi and his wife Maria Eleonora Kaunitz – Rietberg in the 18th century. The castle is now a museum, opened to the public year round, and offering a diversity of public and private tours, as well as spaces for weddings and other events. The 1729 historical items collection of the castle is one of the main attractions here, but the library beats every record held by this landmark, with its 14 312 books. After you visit the museum, stop by its wine tavern, or the restaurant, to taste the fine wines of the Small Carpathian Wine Route.
Tasting these wines, echoes of the time when this land thrived as a winemaking region, you will discover an utterly unique European treasure, a tasteful retreat into the very heart of the continent. Just follow the little white signs that read; Malokarpatská vínna cesta – Small Carpathian Wine Route.
Dubbed as Bratislava’s extreme sports hall, Hangair is a novelty in Slovakia. It is a one-of-a-kind destination, designed for adrenalin junkies.
Trenčín Mesto Módy, a legendary fashion festival, will return after nearly a decade pause to the Slovak “city of fashion” in September.
If you are in Bratislava from June 30 untile the second of July, you can attend one of the largest European hip-hop festivals. Hip Hop Žije celebrates its fifth edition this year and will take place at Zlaté Piesky (the Golden Sands).
When you stay with us at Mamaison Residence Sulekova, a 10 minute walk from your hotel you will find a charming little garden the locals call Kochova Záhrada (Koch’s Garden). It is a protected area landscaped sometime around the early 1930s (1932 – 1935) as the park grounds of the Karol Koch sanatorium. The project was carried by architects Dušan Jurkovič, Jindřich Merganc, and Oto Klimeš. With benches, stairways, raised points, rest areas, sculptures, and a small pond, the garden was supposed to be a relaxing oasis for the patients of the sanatorium. All permanent features of the plot, like stairs, stone tiles, alleys, benches, fountain, and sculptures, are still the original from 1932.
After years of neglect, local authorities and volunteers are working diligently to make this place the beautiful retreat it once was. Although it is a private garden, generally not open to the public, the owners are occasionally opening its gates, especially for thematic events and workshops, as well as for volunteer care of the grounds.
Although it is a small space, covering about half a hectare on the slopes of a hill, this urban gem has an incredible variety of plants. Currently, under Municipal protection, Kochova Záhrada is a significant example dendrological garden, with about 30 conifers and 26 deciduous evergreen exotic species among several other tree varieties. Local authorities, owners, and volunteers are still working to revitalize the garden and to reopen it to the public.
Besides plants, the garden also features a fountain and two sculptures, one of a mother and child, and one called Lovers.
Until the garden reopens officially, you can always see their official website (linked in the first paragraph) to see their current public programs and volunteering opportunities.
MFFK Febiofest is at its 24th edition in March. The international film festival takes place from 2 to 8 March in several venues around the city, including Kino Lumière, Kino Mladosť, Zrkadlo, Foajé, Kino KLAP (VŠMU), and several others. Access to each venue besides Kino KLAP, which is free, is usually between 3.50 and 4 EURO. With a Febiopas ticket – available to purchase here – you gain access to all the cinemas in Bratislava for 15 €. After performances in Bratislava, the festival will tour 10 other Slovak cities till April 4, 2017.
The 24th edition of the MFFK Febiofest international film festival has a rich program, featuring 140 films in 10 sections. The highlight of the event is the themed competition “In the middle of Europe.” Viewers will enjoy the newest Slovak productions, as well as international films in original language with subtitles. The official site of the festival offers timely updates and schedules for interested parties.
You can also follow Febiofest SK on Facebook to learn what’s new.
Besides film screenings, the festival also includes discussions with filmmakers, master classes open to the public, introductions by directors, and audience polls regarding movies participating in the themed competition “In the middle of Europe.”
MFFK Febiofest 2017 promises to be an interesting event for lovers of cinematography. It is also an affordable cultural event that makes the beginning of March a great time to visit Bratislava.
Oktoberfest in Bratislava will only celebrate the season of good beer with a two-day program, on October 6 and 7 this year. The beloved celebration will take place at Tyršovo nábrežie, on the banks of the Danube. Albeit small scale, this is an international event, uniting breweries from Slovakia, Moravia, Austria, and Germany. There will be no less than 15 such breweries showcasing their signature brews and seasonal specials. A large selection of bottled beers from all over the world adds a plus of diversity much anticipated by beer connoisseurs. Foods typical to Oktoberfest celebrations all over the world, like large warm pretzels and sausages, will be available as well.
Musical entertainment is the main offer in the program of the festival, with a variety of concerts, including punk ‘n’ roll, punk rock, foxtrot, tango, swing, jazz, indie pop, and hip hop. The festival is part of the White Night in Bratislava 2016 event, which offers visitors an unconventional artistic night walk through the city, full of new experiences and sensations.
Visitors will have the opportunity to see art installations, and a whole range of attractions in a new light: animated unconventional spaces, parks, bridges, embankments, facades, and much more. About 45 stops are planned for the event, which takes place at night, October 8-9, from 7:00 pm until 2:00 am. There will also be interactive games, art installations, and an after party at Ateliér Babylon, the official after party of Nuit Blanche 2016.
Accommodation is usually hard to find during these events, so book ahead. Mamaison Residence Sulekova Bratislava has a special offer for stays of two nights of longer this season, allowing you to save up to 20% off the standard rate. In addition, we’ll pamper you with a milkshake and with delicious cookies. The offer comes with other perks, like free use of the fitness area and sauna.
For those with no preference for beer and pretzels, October offers several other entertainment opportunities. One of them is the Red Bull Flying Bach, a unique show at Istropolis, featuring the dance group Flying Steps with a special breakdance performance on Bach’s well-known work “Well-Tempered Clavier.” You can check out the official Visit Bratislava website for more exciting events during your stay in our city in October.
Can you have fun under the sun in Bratislava? The city has its own special addresses for beach fun, with Magio Pláž among the most popular.
Bratislava Castle is one of the Slovakian gems that dominate the views from your window at Mamaison Residence Sulekova Bratislava. Beyond the walls of the hotel, the world outside opens with countless possibilities for the curious traveler. When you tour the neighborhood you will find several interesting restaurants.
Dining near Mamaison Residence Sulekova
There are several interesting eateries not far from Mamaison Residence Sulekova, and one of them is U Mamičky – at Palisády 731/40. It is a romantic spot, with a beautiful summer garden open when the weather is fine, and elegant interiors. It serves both Slovak and international cuisine, with a special focus on fresh fish, octopus, squid, mussels and lobster. Fish and seafood are usually imported from Croatia. If you dine as a couple, try the Dalmatian fish platter for two. The restaurant also serves grilled meats, soups, and salads.
Soupa Bistro (Kozia 602/11) is casual and unpretentious, great for a light bite. They serve honest soups, as well as a wide selection of classic stews, vegetarian specials, and all kinds of fresh salads every day. They also bake cakes to order, and have a good range of sweet and savory pies to choose from. This is a good destination for gluten free meals.
Soupa Bistro is a homey place, within minutes from Mamaison Residence Sulekova. Just walk down Sulekova St. to Kozia St. and you will find it easily.
For more exotic meals, check out Ashoka – an authentic Indian restaurant at Hodžovo námestie 568/2. Here, every dish is prepared with original Indian ingredients, spices or herbs, imported from India. The chefs themselves are Indian chefs, so you can count on authentic taste and flavors. The restaurant offers a large variety of vegetarian and vegan foods, but also meat based mains. Their mutton Dopyaza is out of this world.
Another Indian restaurant, Gnesh Utsav at Vysoká 2A, specializes in Ayurvedic and vegetarian cuisine. In fact, this is the first Ayurvedic restaurant in Bratislava and Slovakia. Their daily menus change regularly, always counting on soups, curries, rice, chutneys, and desserts.
Beetroot Kitchedy at Ganesh Utsav – absolutely delicious.
Still on the exotic food trail, Samir offers authentic Lebanese cuisine, cocktails, and entertainment. All the decor elements you will see here in the dining room are original, imported directly from the Arabic world. The restaurant takes you on a a trip to the Middle East through food and original art ornamenting its walls.
The tabbouleh at Samir is the perfect menu choice for vegans and vegetarians.
Jasmin 1 at Židovská 7 is a Chinese restaurant, one of the best of its kind in the city. It has a fortunate location, opposite the St. Martin Cathedral, just below the castle in the historic center of Bratislava. Despite its central location, this restaurant keeps its prices low, allowing you to dine here on a budget, while still appreciating authentic, hearty meals.
These are just some of the restaurants you can enjoy not far from Mamaison Residence Sulekova, and very close to landmarks like the Museum of Pharmacy, the Museum of Arms, the Milan Dobeš Museum, the Arthur Fleischmann Museum, and the Museum of Jewish Culture, to mention but a few.
Postcard pretty Bratislava, known mainly for its iconic castle that stands on a rocky hill directly above the Danube, is a romantic city, close enough to the Little Carpathians to be also a favorite in Slovakia for active travelers. But more than its iconic attractions, known by many travelers, there’s also a lesser known part of the city, and here are some of the attractions you should see if you want to immerse yourself in the true spirit of Bratislava.
Take a boat trip down the Danube, to Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum – always a rewarding experience. This museum in Čunovo, right next to the Austrian and Hungarian border, is the best place to admire contemporary art by Slovak and international artists. The gallery on the ground floor features exhibits that are also available for sale – so you can leave with a valuable, unique “souvenir.” What better memento from Bratislava can you think of?
A beautiful morning at Danubiana. (Photo courtesy the museum, via Facebook)
The Lurdska Cave, with its snow-white statue of Virgin Mary, is quite an unexpected sight, set in a former quarry. This is still a popular place of prayer for the locals, as the 4,000 commemorative thank you tables addressed to the Virgin denote. Stroll down Hlboká cesta and ask a local to point you in the right direction. Just above the Lurdska Cave (Lourdes Grotto) you’ll find tje Roman Catholic church of Our Lady of the Snows. From here, walk around, and see what’s left of the original Calvary dating from 1694. The Calvary on Kalvárie hill was built to commemorate the battle against the Turks at Vienna in 1683.
Hike the Devínska Kobyla, the highest peak in the Devín Carpathians, close to the border with Austria. It is a beautiful hike, with amazing vistas of Bratislava, Austria, Hungary, the Danube and the Morava river. Hiking trails do not lead to the summit but instead to an accessible point with partial view underneath.
Visit one of the city’s Gothic gardens: there are four that are accessible to the public, at the Franciscan cloister, at the Ursulines cloister, the Prepošt Palace garden on Kapitulská Street, and a forth at the University Library of Bratislava. There are also several Renaissance and Baroque gardens you should not miss.
Escape to Zlaté Piesky – a popular summer resort in northeastern Bratislava. The locals flock here to escape the heat of the season. You can enjoy a variety of activities, including swimming, volleyball, streetball, mini-golf, and tennis. There’s a camp area, Intercamp, plus several restaurants to tame your hunger.
Finally, enjoy the nature trails along the Vydrica river, which flows through the Bratislava Forest Park, where it forms many beautiful ponds.
Vydrica river near Železná studienka, part of the Bratislava Forest Park (Photo: Wizzard on Wikimedia.org)
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