Bratislava Castle

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Hungarian Castle Stops the Mongols

The well-fortified Pressburg Castle was among the few castles of the Kingdom of Hungary to be able to withstand Mongol attacks in 1241 and 1242
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Bratislava Castle (Slovak: Bratislavský hrad, IPA:[ˈbɾatislaʊ̯skiː ˈɦɾat](listen), German: Pressburger Schloss, Hungarian: Pozsonyi Vár) is the main castle of Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. The massive rectangular building with four corner towers stands on an isolated rocky hill of the Little Carpathians directly above the Danube river in the middle of Bratislava. Because of its size and location, it has been a dominant feature of the city for centuries.

The location provides excellent views of Bratislava, Austria and, in clear weather, parts of Hungary. Many legends are connected with the history of the castle.

The following are at the castle site:

The castle building includes four towers (one on each corner) and a courtyard with a 80m (260ft) deep water well. The largest and tallest tower is the Crown Tower on the southwest corner. The 47m (154ft) tower dates from the 13th century and for approximately 200 years beginning in the mid-1500s housed the crown jewels of Hungary. The exterior walls and inside corridors contain fragments of old Gothic and Renaissance construction elements. The walled-up entrance gate from the 16th century is still visible to the east of the main hall/entrance.

Behind the entrance, is an arcade corridor leading to a large Baroque staircase which, in turn, leads to the exhibitions of the Slovak National Museum on the second floor. The west wing of this floor houses the 4 halls of the Treasure Chamber (opened in 1988) with a collection of the most precious archaeological finds and other objects of Slovakia, including the prehistoric statue called the Venus of Moravany. The third floor houses the exhibition on the History of Slovakia. The first floor in the south wing of the building houses the rooms of Slovak parliament— the National Council of the Slovak Republic - including furnishings from the 16th century. The northern wing of the building- the former Baroque chapel, houses the Music Hall in which concerts are held. The courtyard includes the entrance to the Knights Hall.

To the west of the main building, is the newly reconstructed Hillebrandt building which dates from 1762 and was destroyed by the 1811 fire. The Yard of Honor is the space directly before the castle entrance dates from the late 18th century.Inside the Sigismund Gate and below the Court of Honor, is the Leopold Yard with bastions, constructed in the 17th century.To the east of the castle building the constellation of the Great Moravian basilica (9th century), the Church of St Savior (11th century) and other Early medieval objects is indicated on the ground. The true archaeological findings are directly below this indicated constellation.

Adjacent to the Nicholas Gate, a Gothic gateway from the 15th century in the northeast quadrant, is the Lugiland Bastion. This is a long three-floor building from the 17th century which currently houses the National Council of the Slovak Republic, and a Baroque stable (today a famous restaurant). An English landscape garden is located to the south of the stable.The northern border of the site is formed by a long Baroque building from the 18th century, which today houses the Slovak National Museum and the castle administration.

The castle's site, like today's city, has been inhabited for thousands of years, because it is strategically located in the center of Europe at a passage between the Carpathians and the Alps, at an important ford used to cross the Danube river, and at an important crossing of central European ancient (trade) routes running from the Balkans or the Adriatic Sea to the Rhine river or the Baltic Sea, the most important route being the Amber Route.

The people of the Boleráz culture (the oldest phase of the Baden culture) were the first known culture to have constructed settlements on the castle hill. This happened around 3500 BC (i.e. in the high Eneolithic Period). Their 'castle' was a fortified settlement and a kind of acropolis for settlements in today's Old Town of Bratislava.

Further major findings from the castle hill are from the Hallstatt Period (Early Iron Age, 750– 450 BC). At that time the people of the Kalenderberg Culture constructed a building plunged into the rock of the castle hill. Again, the 'castle' served as an acropolis for settlements found in the western part of the Old Town.

During the La Tène Period (Late Iron Age, Celtic Period, 450 BC– 1 BC ), the castle hill became a very important center of the Celts. In the last century BC (after 125 BC), the 'castle' served as the acropolis of an oppidum (town) of the Celtic Boii. A great number and diversity of findings (including coins, house equipment, two Roman buildings, castle entrance gate etc.) testifies this.

The castle hill, which was situated at the Danube and thus since 9 BC at the border of the Roman Empire, was also settled by the Romans during the Roman Period (1st to 4th century AD) as findings of bricks of Roman legions (Legion XIII GAN, Legion X GEPF etc.) and some parts of architecture (a Roman figural relief, roof parts etc.) suggest.

The developments in the 5th century (the time of the Great Migration of Peoples) are largely unclear.

The situation changed with the arrival of the Slavs in the territory of Bratislava. Initially, they partly used older Roman and Celtic structures and added some fortifications. Probably at the end of the 8th century (definitely not later than in the early 9th century), 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 dwellings and a big basilica were added.

The basilica is the largest Great Moravian basilica from the territory of Slovakia, and the area of the castle is approximately the same as that of the Mikulčice site (the historical town 'Moravia'), which is the most important Great Moravian archaeological site.

Material from old Roman buildings was used to construct this Slavic castle in Bratislava. This could be a confirmation of the disputed statement of Aventinus from the 16th century, who– referring to lost sources– claimed that around 805/7 the Great Moravian prince Uratislaus (i.e. Vratislav) constructed today's Bratislava (Castle?) at the place of a destroyed Roman frontier fort called Pisonium, and the new settlement was named after him Uratislaburgium / Wratisslaburgium. Another probable fact is that around 900 the castle and the territory it controlled was given in fief to Predslav the third son of the Great Moravian king Svätopluk and that Pre(d) slav, or a person of the same name, is the person after which the castle and the town received its old German name Pressburg (from which the old Slovak name Prešporek is derived).

The oldest version of this name was Preslava (Slovak) / Preslav(a) sburg (German). It appeared for the first time in 907 (Battle of Pressburg) in the forms Brezalauspurc(h), Braslavespurch and Pressalauspruch and then around 1000 on Hungarian coins as Preslav(v) a Civitas (meaning Bratislava Castle). On the other hand, the exact location of Brezalauspurc is still disputed.

The construction of a new castle of stone started in the 10th century, but work lagged. Under King Stephen I of Hungary (1000–1038), however, the castle was already one of the central castles of the Kingdom of Hungary. It became the seat of Pozsony county and protected the kingdom against Bohemian (Czech) and German attacks (e.g. in 1030, 1042, 1052, 1108, 1146) and played an important role in throne struggles in the Kingdom of Hungary (e.g. struggles after the death of King Stephen I). In 1052 Henry III tried to occupy the castle. According to Hungarian tradition Zothmund a Hungarian soldier, swam to the ships of the invading fleet to drill holes i...

Wikipedia Article
  • Bratislava castle
  • Aerial view of the complex of Bratislava Castle
  • Main entrance of the castle (before renovation)
  • Main entrance of the castle (after renovation)
  • The palace courtyard (before reconstruction)
  • Gardens of Bratislava Castle
  • View on the left corner of Bratislava Castle
  • Sigismund Gate
  • Great Moravian basilica at the Bratislava castle
  • Emperor Henry III losing his fleet below Pressburg Castle, 14th-century manuscript
  • The castle and the town of Pressburg on a picture from the 15th century
  • The Crown, Sword and Globus Cruciger of Hungary used to be kept in the Crown Tower of the castle
  • The reconstructed grand staircase dates to the times of Maria Theresa
  • Pressburg Castle, mid-19th century
  • Equestrian statue of King Svatopluk I at the Honorary Courtyard since 2010
  • Bratislava Castle and the roofs of Old Town
  • Reconstructed trophy that has been restored as part of the renovation efforts


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