Sitting on the hill above the city of Bratislava is the historic Bratislava Castle, the Bratislavský hrad in Slovak. The original castle dates back to the 13th century, but it was obviously modified many times over the centuries. By the early 1800’s, the castle was in a state of deterioration and was being used by the military for barracks. It was also damaged more during the world wars, but in 1953 the decision was made to restore the castle to its former glory and it is now a popular tourist site within the capital city of Bratislava.
We visited the Bratislava Castle in May, so the gardens were just beginning to bloom, but we can certainly can imagine what they must look like in the summer months. The castle itself is a rectangular building with four towers, one on each corner. Although there is apparently only a single window left from the original building, the castle is still quite beautiful. We spent about an hour walking the grounds and enjoying the wonderful views of the city below. There is also a statue of King Svatopluk that was added to the courtyard in 2010, which apparently caused some controversy.
The history of the region, with its importance to Hungary and then recent gain of independence, the Bratislava Castle is a source of pride to the people of Slovakia. It is an interesting theme that we found during our tour of Bratislava of how the castle and the city were a seat of power for Hungary for centuries, which obviously is a frustration for Slovakians, but at the same time the country has recognized the importance of this period as part of their own history. Add to that the other occupations, including that of the Soviet Union, and the country has overcome a variety of historical obstacles. Needless to say, any visit to Bratislava should include going to the castle that overlooks the city.