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Thursday, August 29, 2019

Another Country

On Monday I took a trip to another country... Slovakia or officially the Slovak Republic.  This little country peacefully broke away from Czechoslovakia in 1993.  The capital city of Bratislava is just an hour by train from Vienna and is a popular day excursion from the Austrina capital.  So that is what I did.  I took an early train and arrived around 8:30 in the morning.

The city is on the banks of the Danube River.  The modern bridge crossing the river was the pride of the Communist government that built it in the 1970s.



It is often referred to as the UFO because of the spaceship-like structure at the top which contains a restaurant and an observation deck.




Since it was still early I decided to climb the hill to the Bratislava Castle for a view of the city.



The castle was begun in the 10th century and was the seat of the Hungarian Kingdom. (Hungary is just a few miles down the river from here, and in medieval times the borders of countries were quite fluid.)  After the region came under the control of he Hapsburgs, a Renaissance style castle was built.  When Maria Theresa of Austria promised the Hungarian nobles that she would spend more time in Bratislava, she had the interior redone in Baroque style.  The castle is now a museum.



Looking down from the castle you can see newly constructed apartments and office towers on the horizon, and in the foreground the red roofs and cathedral spire of the Old Town.

The Cathedral of Bratislava of course cannot begin to compare with the magnificent cathedral of Vienna, but it is a nice Gothic church.






Under the Communist rule the Old Town was left to decay while boring apartment blocks were built on the outskirts.  Now the Old Town is being restored, and between river cruise passengers and day trippers from Vienna, the area is invaded by tourists.

The town square is picturesque with its old city hall.



St. Michael's Gate is the only part of the medieval fortifications remaining, and it is the oldest structure in the city.




Other than that there is not a lot to see.  You can wander the streets of the Old Town, but frankly the principal streets are like a Slovak Disneyland.  Almost all of the people on the street are tourists, and most of the businesses are either restaurants, bars, or souvenir shops.  And most of the signs are in English.




Frankly, I was not much impressed with Bratislava.  Of course, after spending time in the grand city of Vienna, I suppose that it was bound to be a letdown.  Well, at least I can add another country to the list of places that I have visited.

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