Napoleon and his army invaded Bratislava twice, leaving canonballs stuck in walls (like at the Old Town Hall) and generally setting things on fire. Bratislava responded by placing a statue of Napoleon, bent over a park bench, in front of the Old Town Hall, so that millions of tourists could take stupid photos with the infamous French emperor, thus shaming him for all of eternity. Or something.
This is the main square in the Old Town where you can find the Old Town Hall, the french soldier bronze statue and some pretty buildings with amazing facades. The Roland Fountain constructed by the Hungarian king Maximillian II is the other interesting spot of this small square.
A view from Frantiskánske námestie towards the secession bank Palace dated 1906,which was developed from the original neo-baroque Palugay palace built in 1882. An atmospheric traditional yearly christmas market takes place on the square.
No matter how many European cities I visit, I never get tired of the 'Old Town' syndrome.
Almost all of them have 'old towns' and most of them are very touristy but it doesn't matter. The first whiff of a little cobbled street and some quirky gabled roofs and I'm sucked in. I suppose this is a direct result of living in Ireland where, although we have really spectacular scenery, quaint old town centres are definitely few and far between. Bratislava's Old Town was well up to picturesque standards and of course the whole Christmas market thing added greatly to my pleasure. All around the Old Town Hall and Hlavne namestie, Frantiskanske namestie, Michalska Street, Kapitulska Street etc., you couldn't wish for more beautiful atmospheric streets, squares and buildings. This Old Town has plenty of street cafes and restaurants but I think outside of the main square is considerably less touristy than most 'old towns' I've visited. Another unusual feature of this visit for me, was that for once, I hurried away from the 'Old Town' to get to the more historically and (for me) architecturally interesting 'New Town".
The main square (Hlavna Namestie) is always busy with people. It contains some of the most impressive buildings in the city, including the Town Hall at one end and an Art-Nouveau style building at the opposite end. Also look out for the impressive fountain near the centre of the square, and the statue of a very Napoleon like Frenchman near one of the benches, yet another of Bratislava's quirky street statues.
THE OLD TOWN
The old town is the only interesting place for tourists. To get there from the Railway Station, go down Stefanikova Street and you'll be there in no more than 10 minutes.
My favourite places here were:
- Michalska Brana: a wonderful old tower in the north side of old town.
- Hlavne Namesti: a quiet nice square. In one of the benches you can find a curious statue of Napoleon looking at the visitors.
- Hviezdoslavovo Nam.: In this long main square stands the Theatre Slovenske Nar. Divadlo.