Address: Bratislava Castle, Bratislava
Opening hours: May-September: Tu-Su 10.00 - 18.00, October-April: Tu-Su 9.00 - 17.00
Description: Bratislava Castle (Bratislavsky hrad) is the central and the most important castle of Bratislava.
Bratislava Castle has a large and important history. Many legends are connected with the castle.
Thanks to its location the castle provides an excellent view of Bratislava and Austria. The monumental square building stands on a scattered rocky hill directly above the Danube river in the middle of Bratislava. The building has a four corner towers. The biggest tower is the Crown Tower from the 13th century. The outside walls and inside corridors include fragments of old Gothic and Renaissance construction elements. Behind the entrance, there is an arcade corridor, the big Baroque staircase, and then the expositions of the Slovak National Museum. The southern part of the building includes the 4 halls of the Treasure Chamber with a collection of the most precious archaeological findings and other objects found in Slovakia, including the prehistoric statute (Venus of Moravany). On the 3rd floor is the exposition History of Slovakia. On the 1st floor in the southern part are the rooms of Slovak parliament - the National Council of the Slovak Republic. The former Baroque chapel (the northern part), there is the Music Hall. The court contains the gate to the Knights Hall.
The castle has been settled for thousands of years, thaks to strategic location in the center of Europe at a passage between the Carpathians and the Alps, at a very important ford used to cross the Danube river, and at an important crossing of central European trade routes.
In the high Eneolithic Period, the people of the Baden culture were the first known culture to have constructed settlements on the castle hill. In the Early Iron Age, the people of the Kalenderberg Culture built a building of the castle hill. During the Celtic Period, the castle hill became a very important center of the Celts. The castle hill, which was situated at the Danube at the border of the Roman Empire, was also settled by the Romans during the Roman Period as findings of bricks of Roman legions and some parts of architecture suggest.
At the time of the Principality of Nitra, a Slavic castle with a wooden rampart was constructed with a huge area of 55,000 square metres. In the second half of the 9th century (at the time of Great Moravia) a palace of stone surrounded by habitations and a big basilica were added. The basilica is the biggest Great Moravian basilica from the territory of Slovakia. The construction of a new castle of stone started in the 10th century, but it was not finished. Under the Hungarian king Stephen I, the castle was already one of the central castles of the Kingdom of Hungary. The castle was turned into a proto-Romanesque palace of stone in the 12th century. From the beginning of the 16th century, Bratislava and its castle had to face various anti-Habsburg uprisings in Royal Hungary on the territory of Slovakia.
The emperor Ferdinand I. of Habsburg had rebuilt it into a Renaissance castle by Italian builders and artists from Rome, between 1552 and 1562. The building's form did not change, but it was completely changed inside and outside. Since some of the Renaissance changes were done in haste, gradual Early Baroque reconstruction started based on a design by architect Giovanni Battista Carlone (finished in 1647).
Maria Theresa (the queen of the Kingdom of Hungary) spent much time in Bratislava Castle, in modern royal residence (performed between 1761 and 1766).
In 1809, the Bratislava and the castle was bombarded by Napoleon troops. On 28 May 1811, the castle burst into huge flames due to carelessness of Austrian and Italian soldiers in the castle. The fire even spread into parts of the town. In 1946, the ruin was opened to the public.
After 1953 was decided to restore the castle. The restoration was done to the last (Baroque) state of the main building, but at many places older (Gothic, Renaissance) preserved elements or parts have been restored.
Since 1968, the exposition of the Slovak National Museum has been placed in the Bratislava Castle. At the same time its rooms have been used by the National Council of the Slovak Republic for presentation purposes.
In 1990, the castle housed a branch-office of the Slovak president temporarily. In 2005 were made the last minor adaptations on the occasion of the Bush-Putin Bratislava summit.