– The views! The castle is perched on a rocky hill that provides fantastic views of both the Danube River and the city. It’s a view that has no equal in any other city along the Danube. From the castle you can see both the historic Old Town – and the new city, characterized by the Soviet-era housing blocks of the Petržalka district.
– From here you can see two neighboring countries: Austria (to the right, just 2 miles from the border) and Hungary (to the left, about 9 miles).
– It is one of the must-see Bratislava attractions, even if you are only on a day trip from Vienna or Budapest.
– You can visit the castle grounds for free (see below for why this is cool)
– The castle has rectangular walls and a tower at each corner, so it looks like an upside-down table.
– It has a fascinating history. For centuries, Bratislava castle was part of a border defensive line and was used as a part-time home for Hapsburg monarchs. It burned down in 1811 and lay in ruins until after World War II. In the 1950s and ‘60s restored for the first time and some years ago lovingly restored to its former glory when the Habsburg Queen Maria Theresa lived there.
– Maria Theresa’s daughter, Maria Christina married for love and lived here for more than 10 years with her husband, regent Albert, who was a passionate collector of art. Maybe you’ve heard of Vienna’s famous Albertina Museum – named after him.He started to collect art during his stay in Bratislava.
– The castle grounds are a delightful pleasant place to take a break, hide from the sun under the lovely linden trees – symbolic tree of the Slavs — or watch the sunset.
– Visit a wonderful book store underneath the Parade Courtyard and savor the food in one of Bratislava’s best restaurants overlooking the roofs of the historical city of Bratislava.
– If you are into castles, don’t miss Devin Castle, also in Bratislava, located where the Danube meets the Moravia River. Devin Castle was partially destroyed in 1809 by Napoleon Bonaparte.
2. Insider tips: special places to discover on the Castle grounds
– Use one of three gates to the castle grounds (free admission), admire the monumental white building of the castle itself with interesting Parade Courtyard. Walk to the park full of lush greenery with views of the historic Old Town, nearby vineyard-filled hills, and the Cathedral of St. Martin, one of Slovakia’s oldest churches and where coronations of the kings and queens of Hungary took place for 300 years. You will find easily the statue of St. Elisabeth who was born in the Bratislava Castle and has two churches in Bratislava dedicated to her – one of them, the famous Blue Church. Be sure to see the Baroque garden and on the way there, you will pass by something quite ancient – the foundation of a three-nave church from the 9th century. This was during thetime of the Great Moravia Empire, important state of Slavs living here, which spread out over land currently occupied by Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Serbia! You can also see a 280-foot deep well that reaches the waters of the Danube. You can see all of this for free!
3. What you can see inside of Bratislava Castle?
– Paying the general admission of 10€ (be sure to ask for discounts for senior citizens, students, family ticket, etc.) gives you access to the permanent exhibits, dedicated to the well-documented and tumultuous history of Slovakia, the renovations of Bratislava Castle, among others. In addition, there are always interesting temporary exhibits, such as the Celts in Slovakia, the famous Slovak painter Martin Benka, treasures from Russia’s Peterhof Palace.
– In the largest tower there is a replica of the crown of the Hungarian kings and queens. Bratislava (called Pressburg before 1919) was not only the coronation city for 300 years, but for 250 years was the capital of the Kingdom of Hungary.
– Note: there is an elevator, making access easy.
4. How to get to Bratislava Castle:
– by bus from Vienna (either from Vienna city center or Vienna International Airport): get off at the Most SNP stop, see more at www.privatetours.guru/useful-information/
– you are already in the center of Bratislava: walk for about 15 minutes to the castle or take a take a small tourist train from the Bratislava Opera House (for 10€)
5. If you do not have the time to visit the Bratislava Castle this time, at least take a look at an image of it on Slovak coins of 10, 20 and 50 cent denominations or have drink in Sky Bar Bratislava on Hviezdoslav Sq. where you have a great view of the castle on its hill.