Bratislavský hrad, the iconic castle of Bratislava, is one of the most beautiful sights in the city. Safeguarding the city from the hills of the Little Carpathians, it houses the Slovak Parliament and collections of the Slovak National Museum.
And, when you stay at Mamaison Residence Sulekova Bratislava you are less than 20 minutes on foot away from this famous landmark. Often, you can see it from your window in all its grandeur.
It has been there in times of greatest glory as well as oppression, witnessed struggles for power and conscience, survived wars and a devastating fire, and remained alive up to this day as a proud testimony of times long gone – a symbol of endurance, strength and indomitable will.
Reconstruction of the Bratislava Castle – Chancellery of the National Council of the Slovak Republic. May 2010.
One of the noteworthy things about the lovely turreted castle that looms over the Danube is that it’s the first-ever written mention of the city. It’s documented in the Annals of Salzburg in 907. But its history runs deeper. Here are some of the most intriguing highlights:
Due to its strategic position on the Danube, right in the heart of Europe, between the Carpathians and the Alps, this place was inhabited during the Eneolithic Period (about 2500 BC). As archeological finds attested, there was an acropolis of an oppidum here during the Celtic and Roman Period (450 BC – 5th Century AD). In fact, recent research unearthed a residential structure most likely erected by the master builders of the Roman Empire. Gold and silver coins discovered on the site further the thesis that the rulers of the castle at the time were sovereigns of significant influence.
After the arrival of the Slavs on the territory of Bratislava, the aspect of the oppidum changed. The new rulers of the land used some of the structures left behind by the Romans and the Celts, but also erected structures of their own: initially a massive castle with a wooden rampart, and later, in the IX century, a stone palace surrounded by dwellings and a basilica. The temple is the largest Great Moravian basilica on the territory of Slovakia.
During the Christian Kingdom of Hungary, in the High Middle Ages, the Hungarians destroyed the Slavic castle, but they understood the strategical significance of its position and begun constructing a new stone structure. They also modernized the rampart and erected the Church of the St. Savior with a chapter and a church school on the remains of the basilica.
Except for two of its towers, as it stands today, Bratislavský hrad dates from the time of King Sigismund (Holy Roman Emperor), when the castle was the center of the German-Czech-Hungarian Empire. Konrad von Erlingen supervised the construction of a massive Gothic palace, which was converted to a Renaissance castle by Italian builders at the order of emperor Ferdinand I. of Habsburg between 1552 and 1562. Consecutive works turned the building into a Baroque edifice, then a more modern rococo structure during the queen of the Kingdom of Hungary, Maria Theresa of Austria from 1740 onwards.
Napoleon’s troops bombarded the castle in 1809, and in 1811, the castle was destroyed by fire because of the negligence of garrison soldiers.
The castle laid in ruin until 1957. The reconstruction followed the Baroque blueprints, but also elements of the Gothic and Renaissance castle were brought back to life. It now stands in sparkling white, dominating the city, welcoming visitors with a wealth of information about the history of Bratislava. It is a must-see when you stay at Mamaison Residence Sulekova or simply when you visit the capital of Slovakia.
The Pisztory Palace is a historic landmark of Bratislava, just five minutes by car or fifteen minutes on foot from Mamaison Residence Sulekova.
Local pharmacist Felix Pisztory appointed architects and builders to erect the superb estate in the 1890s. It preserves many of its original features, including gilded frescoes on the ceiling and mosaic flooring in the staircase hall. Some of the crystal chandeliers are original too. A Gastach allegoric painting dating from 1895 is in excellent condition and can be admired inside the palace as well.
In 2016, the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) conducted restoration works at the palace facades and the roof. Since 1963, the Pisztory Palace is a National Cultural Monument of the Slovak Republic.
During its time, the palace served as a private residence, as the German Embassy during World War II, and later as the home of the Vladimir Ilyich Lenin Museum and the House of Slovaks Living Abroad. Since 2012 the Pisztory Palace it is a cultural center hosting a wide variety of events, including concerts, exhibitions, theater, and much more. The venue is available for hire for weddings, banquettes, and conferences.
In the left wing of the palace, there is a special community center designed to encourage participation of the more disadvantaged groups of population in a non-traditional artistic way, for example via theater, performance, and dance. The actors are recruited from homeless people, physically disabled, and people belonging to socially disadvantaged groups.
The garden of the Pisztory Palace is an impressive sight. Restored in 2012, it is carefully landscaped and enhanced with all kinds of medicinal plants and herbs to honor the memory of its first owner, pharmacist Felix Pisztory.
As from December 2016, the Pisztory Palace on Štefániková Street is incorporated in the network of Old Town cultural centers.
The Sacré Coeur Park is an oasis of green in walking distance from Mamaison Riverside Hotel Prague – about twenty minutes on foot or two minutes by car. It is a picturesque site that occupies the site of a garden landscaped in 1872 on the grounds of a former vineyard. The park, as it stands today, was developed in 2004.
The 1st Czech Spa Beerland located in street Žitná 9, Prague 1. You can try 2 rooms - the Beer Spa and Spa Beerland® with hop sauna.
Beer spas are a trend in Eastern Europe now and Prague has several venues where you can see why they gain momentum. The beer spa culture in the Czech Republic was pioneered by the Chodovar Brewery, a family business located in Chodová Planá. It’s worth the two-hour drive from Prague to Chodová Planá to visit the brewery, but there are also several newer spas in the Czech capital to satisfy your curiosity. Without further ado, here are the best beer spas in Prague:
Welcome to a world of magic and alchemy: featuring four lesser-known Prague attractions and a spa to pamper you in the winter.
1. Lázně na lodi
Lázně na Lodi at Rašínovo nábřeží
Lázně na lodi is a wellness center with sauna and spa. It is located on the river at Rašínovo nábřeží and offers jaw-dropping views of the city. Guests can enjoy a classic Finnish sauna and bathe in a hot water outdoor pool. The a pilot project by H3T architekti, aims to test the interest of Prague residents and visitors in sauna facilities. So far, the project is a success.
2. Muzeum Smyslů
Muzeum Smyslů, the Museum of Senses, is a playful tourist attraction, which only opened in November 2017. It is a unique experience, fun and educational at the same time. You start with a walk through a dark tunnel where the water flows upwards, and the journey will take you to the top of a skyscraper, to a dessert of optical illusions, in a park where you can play music and form extraordinary sand structures, and so on. Simply fascinating, and a great stop for a fun winter afternoon in Prague.
Muzeum Smyslů: Infinity disco room
3. Mysteria Pragensia
The Museum of Alchemists and Magicians “Mysteria Pragensia” is a sensational attraction that offers a trip into the occult with odd exhibits that challenge your imagination and beliefs. They also have a pub and often offer ghost tours of Old Prague, as well as boat tours on the Vlatva.
Museum of Alchemists and Magicians
4. Reon Argondian’s Magical Cavern
Reon Argondian’s Magical Cavern on Petřín Hill is an art project the artist started in 2005. It’s a private cave-like museum with walls covered with the psychedelic paintings of Argondian (nee Jan Zahradnik). This is also the artist’s studio, where you can meet him and see him at work.
Reon Argondian inside his Magical Cavern
5. Speculum Alchemiae
We remain in the world of magic with our last stop: Speculum Alchemiae. It is a relatively new attraction, discovered after the floods that affected the historical center of Prague in 2002. This was the secret laboratory of the alchemists of the rennaissance and the current exhibition gives an authentic view of the city’s occult past, featuring items that belonged to personalities like John Dee, Tadeáš Hájek of Hájek, Rabbi Löw, and Tycho Brahe among many others.
If you have more than a weekend in Prague, you could also visit Matej Kren’s “Idiom” installation at Mariánské nám. 98/1, in the entrance hall of the Prague Municipal Library. The artist’s “tower of books” was installed here in 1998 and still fascinates the visitors of the library. Made of 8,000 books, the tower has also been sometimes dubbed the “Column of Knowledge.”
Holešovice has emerged in the past ten years as Prague’s capital of cool. It boasts fancy industrial spaces housing bars, clubs, and all kinds of artsy shops showcasing up and coming Czech designers and artists. Some of its abandoned factories and slaughterhouses are now used for pop-up cultural events, exhibitions (like DOX Center for Contemporary Art), or are centers for performing arts.
Some of the coolest places to see in Holešovice include the neo-Gothic Church of St. Anthony of Padua, the Veletržní palác, and the Praha-Holešovice railway station. But besides architectural landmarks, this neighborhood offers enough to entertain you.
The Národní galerie v Praze, National Gallery in Prague, is housed in large part inside the Veletržní palác. One the largest museums in Central Europe, the gallery has an extensive permanent collection featuring works by artists such as Picasso, Van Gogh, Cézanne, Miró, Klimt, Gauguin, and many others. Czech and Slovak painters and sculptors are also represented through the works of Alfons Mucha, František Kupka, Rudolf Fila, and Bohumil Kubišta, among many others.
Výstaviště Praha is another interesting destination in Holešovice. These are Prague’s Exhibition Grounds, a popular attraction since opening in 1891. They are located next to the Stromovka Park.
Or, you can hang out with the hipsters at VNITROBLOCK. It is a multifunctional concept store with original brands, sustainable fashion, and interior design by European designers, as well as live DJs, art exhibitions, DIY workshops, and other cultural events. One side of the space is occupied by trendy café.
If nature is your thing, there are two beautiful parks in Holešovice: Letna, with views of the Old Town, and Stromovka, the largest park in Prague.
Last, but not least, Holešovice is a great destination if you love street art. Almost all its streets will reveal a gem of proportions, but the best art is still on Milady Horakove street.
Holešovická Tržnice, now Pražská tržnice, or the Prague Market, is another appealing attraction. It’s a maze of stalls selling all kinds of goods. You’ll even find a “Mint Market,” a pop-up design market selling original fashion, jewelry, and accessories, plus concerts and workshops.
Do you have any other favorite spots in Holešovice you would like to mention?
When in Prague, don’t follow the tourist crowds. The city has a lot to offer if you want to explore it like a local. You will find many surprising spots to hang out if you get off the beaten path. One of them, Naplavka, also known as “Prague’s hipster hangout,” is a stretch of pavement along the River Vltava.
It all started with Bajkazyl, a bike shop and bar founded in 2010 by Martin Kontra. When people discovered it, they found the neighborhood irresistible, and soon, other venues popped up. Today, Naplavka stretches from Palackého most to the railway bridge at Vyton. It is a lively spot with buzzy sidewalk cafes and restaurants serving good food and drinks al fresco.
The locals usually come here to spend a couple of hours at a terrace, but other activities may include roller skating, cycling, or attending a cultural event. Evenings are full of laughter, with many live concerts taking place in summer months. The Rašínovo nábřeží embankment in Naplavka is the perfect spot for beautiful panoramic views of the Hradčany Castle too.
On the official website of the Naplavka neighborhood, you can find a map of the boardwalks, practical information, and a list of events. Among the latest, the farmers’ market is a must see. It takes place every Saturday, from 8:00 am till 2:00 pm. Besides fresh flowers, fruit, and vegetables, at this market, you will also find original culinary creations, including cakes, pies, strudels, cookies, fresh juices, ice cream, chocolate, coffee, tea, beer, wine and handmade toys and jewellery. You can also drop in for ready meals at breakfast or lunch. The market is also the occasional site for thematic events like beer and wine festivals, live concerts, and more.
Last, but not least, Naplavka is where you will find four Busking sites. Busking is a musical, theatrical or artistic production run in public places with the purpose of obtaining a cash contribution from passersby. You can find more information here.
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