The monumental building of the Bratislava Castle is visible from a great distance. Certainly, every visitor of Bratislava notices the pronounced silhouette. The majestic impression is enhanced by the hill it stands on, some eighty-five metres above the water level of the Danube river.
It was an important fortified settlement at the end of the 9th century. The first written reference to Bratislava from 907 is related to this period; it mentions a battle between the Bavarians and early Magyars under the Brezalauspurc Castle. First, there was a pre-Romanesque stone palace in the 11th and 12th century on the castle hill. Generous reconstruction of the castle started in 1423 and the result of this reconstruction was a Gothic castle referred to as a Sigismund`s castle. Reconstruction of the castle called the Pálffys reconstruction was carried out in the period of the fading Renaissance style.
The last stage of big building alterations of the Bratislava Castle was accomplished by Maria Theresa. She had all fortifying elements of the Pallfys castle removed and simultaneously improved or extended its residential functions complying with the criteria of what was then considered the utmost luxury. The most interesting building though was that of what was later on called Theresianum which was added to the eastern front side of the palace in 1768.
The lovely Rococo palace was the seat of the Governor, Prince Albert, who acquired the office after he married Archduchess Maria Christina, daughter of Queen Maria Theresa. The couple, as art lovers, started to collect art works, which later became part of what is known nowadays as the Viennese Gallery Albertinum.
In May 1811, a devastating fire burst out in the castle. Nothing was done with the massive ruins of the burnt castle palace for the next hundred and fifty years. Reconstruction of the castle place was finished only in 1968. Some parts of the Bratislava Castle are open to the public. They contain various exhibitions of the Slovak National Museum.
Despite the ongoing reconstruction of the Castle Palace, exhibitions of the Museum of History of the SNM are open to visitors. The Museum that takes care of the plentiful collection of items that primarily includes collections of historical furniture, visual arts, clocks, historical glassware, porcelain and ceramics, dress accessories and objects from silver. The seat of the Museum of History is in the Bratislava Castle. An exhibition The past and the future of the Bratislava Castle is located in the premises under the Čestné nádvorie courtyard of the Castle. It informs and presents the rich history of the Castle from the Upper Paleolithic Age to its presumed future after the completion of the current reconstruction.
Where was the Celtic oppidum? Where did Mária Terézia go for a walk? Pieces of plasterwork from the uncovered Great Moravian Basilica, stone artifacts from the Gothic Castle of Sigismund of Luxemburg, objects that were discovered upon archeological research, as well as vedutas and graphic works from the Bratislava Castle - visitors can see all of them in the renewed exhibition. An educative programme accompanying the exhibition Bratislava Castle Plays With Us is designated for children and school groups.
Premises for short-term exhibitions have been provided by the Luginsland Bastion that was part of the castle fortifications already in the 15th century. The exhibition of the Museum of Music of the SNM devoted to the well-known Albrecht family in the Musical Dialogue is still open. One of the most unique exhibitions of the Museum of History The Golden Treasure of Košice in the Bratislava Castle is prepared for the year 2009. The golden treasure from the 17th century comprises a set of 2,900 golden coins, badges and a golden chain - all were found at one occasion. For the first time, inhabitants of Bratislava will also have a chance to admire its beauty. The most precious treasure in Europe will be exhibited in the Bratislava Castle.
Theatre performances, Shakespeare`s festival and concerts are organized at the castle courtyard mainly in summer under the star-lit sky.
Part of the castle area is the park where the foundations of the Great Moravian basilica are displayed. A walk through the park offers different views of Bratislava including that of the modest statue of St. Elisabeth, who was born at the Bratislava Castle in 1207.
Although a large-scale reconstruction of the Bratislava Castle started in 2008, a part of the exhibition premises of the Slovak National Museum – Museum of History will remain open to the public.
Access: by car and public transport to the castle, on foot from the city centre (it takes about 15 minutes).
Source: Dajama, Historické múzeum SNM Bratislava