Cloudy Cobblestone: Visiting the Bratislava Castle

A castle is always a good idea, am I right? (Of course I am hella right!) The castle of Bratislava is a dazzling white beauty towering over the old town as a granny who wants you to eat ALL of the green beans. It is impossible to avoid it during your visit to Bratislava, so while you are at it, here is everything you ever wanted to know about the Bratislava castle (but didn´t dare to ask).

The castle of Bratislava is rather ancient – it is definitely older than the people working in its museum and that, ladies and gents, is something to say! The hill where it stands has seen the first fortified settlements around 2500 BC. As all the other members of Castle family, it has a stunningly strategic position, which means, translated to the language of 21st century, that you and your hubby/wifey darling (alternatively selfie stick) are going to live some wild times there. (I am of course referring to taking a ton of photos – looking at you, you shameless Instagram wife!)

*An Instagram wife is someone who ruthlessly pushes their partner to take thousands of pictures of them in order to feed their ego by gaining Instagram likes (“hearts”) from people they don´t know in real life, which would be creepy, but ya know, everyone is doing it so it´s kindda oh-kay. (I don´t do that, obviously. I ´gram purely as an outlet to my artsy-fartsy creativity.) Now go follow me on Instagram, please.
Looking through the backdoor

How to get to the Bratislava castle?

If you are fit enough, I strongly recommend you to walk up the stairs from the downtown. This works great to burn all those unnecessary halushky calories you just engulfed instead of a healthy lunch. You can take from the St. Martin´s Dome (the cathedral) – walk under the big road (and the UFO bridge) through the passage – you will know it by the synagogue picture portrayed on the black tiles – and take to the stairs on your left.

Traveling to Bratislava? Read my Local´s guide to the capital of Slovakia!

You will get to a more narrow road – the first thing you see is the narrowest house in Bratislava, nicknamed also as the House of the Good Shepherd, which houses the museum of old clocks.

You will know it because: a) it is yellow, b) it really is pretty narrow (although not as narrow as your butthole, trying to hold all the organic sheep cheese bryndza goodness in the safety of your troubled belly!)(Bryndza is the cheese you eat with the Slovak version of gnocchi, called halushky.), c) this is the photo of it:

The Good Shepherd´s house

When you will have finished admiring this jewel of architecture, turn left and walk up the cobblestone stairs. There is no possible way to get lost here so just go up fearlessly and ta-daaa, you are at the castle.

Is there a bus going to the Bratislava castle?

I knew you were going to ask (that´s why I make this question a SEO-friendly sub-heading) – if you are not quite the fittest (although the walk up to the castle is pretty short), you´re tired of so much walking, or the weather is outright shitty, you can also take the public transport to the castle. There are two trolleybuses (those are the buses with the electrical sticks) going all the way up and the bus stop is originally named “Hrad” (= castle) for your convenience.

Hitchhike is easy in Slovakia – find out how to hitchhike like a pro even if you are a newbie!

You will want to take either number 207 or 203 in the direction to Búdková (203) or ZST Zelezná Studienka (207) – you can hop on both of them right in front of the Presidential palace (Prezidentský palác) on Hodzovo námestie. But hey, be careful, you have to signal your desire to get off at the castle by pushing one of those obnoxious buttons inside of the “trolejbus” – if you are not sure which one, just push all of them. Now, away with that smirk – it often happens that some of the buttons don´t work! If pushing the buttons doesn´t work, just start screaming in your mother tongue and bang on the door. That always stops them.

The view of the castle from the gardens

(Brief) history of the Bratislava castle

The first mention of the castle dates back to the incredible year of 907. Obviously, it didn´t look this way back then (just mentioning this, in case you missed your history classes in favor of smoking pot) – its modern visage is the result of several facelifts.

The architectonic style of the fortress is mainly Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque.

Thanks to dedicated work of badly remunerated archaeologists, we know that there was a basilica (a church) in this area, along with a stone palace and wooden fortifications already around the 1st century BC. The powerful rulers of this important place had the savvy Roman architects build their palace, how cool is that? There were also some silver and gold coins found around here. You can still see what remains of the sacral buildings in the castle area.

Explore a different kind of history: Urbex in the abandoned hospital of Rázsochy, Bratislava

We also know that the XIVth Roman legion was hanging around in this area although there isn´t anything so fancy left after them.

During many centuries, this castle was protecting an important cross-section of trading routes that led through the Danube ford in this place, hence its strategic importance for everyone concerned.
Hello from the other side

In 13th century, a king called Imrich moved the church to the lower part of the hill (pretty much where the St. Martin´s Dome stands today) in order to lower the safety risks induced by believers hanging around in the fortress area when going to the mass. That was the beginning of the end of the basilica in the castle.

The castle gained even more importance after 1529 when the Ottoman armies conquered Budín (nowadays Budapest) and was reconstructed after Bratislava became the new capital of the kingdom. Between 1563 and 1835 the castle served as a place of the royal coronations in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

If your timing is flexible, it is perhaps worth arranging your visit to Bratislava during the Coronation festival that takes place every year during the first September weekend and currently takes 4 days. It includes a traditional market, enactment of the coronation itself a procession and a bunch of other activities.

In 1811, the castle burned down and the ruin remained unchanged and unnoticed until the reconstruction in 1953. Some architects actually wanted to replace it with modern buildings. (Assholes, I know, right?) Another reconstruction was fortunately done between 2008 and 2014. As a result, the castle is now white as snow, with roofs as red as blood…

Legends about the castle

Bratislava used to be an international city before it got robbed of its diversity by the Second World War and Communist regime. The legends and stories reflect this multicultural past. One of the tales mentions that sometimes the castle inhabitants woke up in pain, while the towers were muddy and dirty. This was caused by the witch called Klingsor who was passing by at night. Tired as he was, he simply turned the castle around and sat down on it as if it were a chair!
Devil in the details

Is there a (public) toilet at that majestic castle of Pressburg?

Yes, there is! And it costs whopping 2 euros to use it, so you better do your business somewhere else. If you pay the entrance to the museum, you can use their toilet instead. HA!

*Pressburg is the name of Bratislava in German.
Fake, but photogenic.

How much is the entrance to the Pozsony castle museum?

Sadly, the entrance fee is more expensive that the public toilets unless you are a group students.

*Pozsony is the Hungarian name for Bratislava.

Here are the prices:

Adults: 7 €

Students: 4 €

Seniors: 4 €

School groups: 2 €

1 adult and max 2 children: 10 €

2 adults and max 3 children: 15 €

Every 1st Sunday of the month the entrance is free for everyone!
Cobblestone streets in the neighborhood. Better than paying for the toilet, have a coffee in one of the fancy cafés around here.

Is it worth it to enter the Bratislava castle museum?

Eeeeeh…I knew this moment was going to come. You know, I really love my city, but sadly, its museums are not my fave part about it.

(My favorite thing are rather the bike lanes around Danube, you see.)

It might be because our government stubbornly decreases the money that go into science and education, or maybe because there are not enough interesting things to see in Slovakia (that was a joke!)…but mostly, the museums I visited in my lovely country are dusty and boring as hell. I mean, unless you really enjoy damaging your eyes with reading tiny letters in a semi-dark room and looking at things without any interaction as is common in modern museums around the world…I guess I don´t have to say any more than that.

Travel further in Slovakia: Discovering Banská Bystrica (sleazy bars included!)

However, the view from the castle is as picturesque as it gets (talking to you again, IG wife!) and if 7 € for you is like a penny for me, then go for it. Then again, for beautiful views of Bratislava, I prefer the Michael´s tower. It´s up to you to decide how deep you wanna dig.
Detail of the gate

Opening hours of the Bratislava castle

The area of the castle can be accessed at any time of the day and year, even during the cold winter nights. You are free to hang out there and there is no one to kick you out. However, if you wish to visit the museum, the opening hours are as follows:

Mondays: mercilessly closed

January 1st – March 31st: 9:00 – 17:00

April 1st – October 30th: 10:00 – 18:00

November 1st – December 31st: 9:00 – 17:00

The last entrance is always one hour prior to the closing time.

Where is the prettiest spot at the castle?

While many people bashed the castle gardens (that have been recreated lately – 2016 – in style of 18th century I believe) after their opening, I find them very pretty. Sure, they are not as fancy as nearby Schönbrunn or faraway Versailles, but hey, what did you expect, really? You can enter the garden for free (unlike every second park in Prague) and if it´s the right season of the year, there is a fountain and colorful flower patterns to admire. I personally very much enjoy sitting on the stairs and resting in the fresh shadow of the castle while looking at the beautifully arranged plants on  hot summer day! You can decide for yourself when you visit.

And while I´m at it, I will link you to a famous Slovak band music video where you can glimpse the sight of it before the major reconstruction while discovering some exquisite Bratislava accent. (Don´t think too much and just click on the link.)
Flower patterns at the castle gardens

Everything you ever wanted to know about the Bratislava castle (but were too shy to ask)

The castle of Bratislava is a monumental fortress dominating the city line – which is pretty clear to every visitor, except for the blind ones and in that case I apologize for my tasteless humor.

While providing an impressive viewpoint for every Instagram wife in Bratislava, it also has a badass historical importance which in itself is a good reason to check it out. You can easily walk up to the castle, however, there is also a public transit option if you must. Don´t count on using the public toilets up on the royal hill as they are aristocratically priced at 2 euros, my dear sir!

More details about Bratislava: Interesting facts about the UFO bridge

On a sunny day, you can enjoy the view of the most infamous communist neighborhood in Bratislava (Petrzalka, of course) along with Hungary and Austrian Alps (more than 100 km of a distance!), but also a nice perspective of the cathedral and historical downtown.

Once up, don´t miss out on the opportunity to visit the gardens – it´s actually just one garden but it´s for free and since it´s been open recently (2016) I am still excited about it.

Last (and least in this case), avoid wearing high heels to the castle or in the downtown. It´s all about the cobblestone – don´t break your legs, please!

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Did you like this article? Was it because or in spite of me talking asses? Have you been to Bratislava? Talk to me, I love comments!




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