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All about Prague

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From the twelve islands on the Vltava River in Prague, Střelecký Ostrov – or Střelák, as the locals call it – counts as one of the most romantic and beautiful since it offers beguiling views of the National Theater, Charles Bridge, and Prague Castle. Often, you can just sit down on a bench and watch the swans glide graciously on the river.

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Bratislava Castle.

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.

View of Bratislava Castle from Mamaison Sulekova
View of the Bratislava Castle from
Mamaison Residence Sulekova 

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.

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Pisztory Palace

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.

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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.

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Czech Beer Spa Žitná in Prague

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: