Bratislava, the capital city of Slovakia set along the Danube River is home to some of the remarkable historical monuments and buildings dating back to the middle ages. The city has a rich history dating back to the Neolithic era and Bratislava Castle is one of the prominent historic attractions and top places to visit in Bratislava. It was our first stop on the Bratislava City sightseeing.
The whitewashed imposing castle with its four towers sits on a hill overlooking the city. The castle building consists of museums, picture galleries, and temporary exhibitions. The castle is a rectangular building enclosing a large central courtyard with a small well. You do not need a ticket to explore the castle grounds and the central courtyard. The courtyard has an entrance to the museum section of the castle which needs an entrance ticket.
Before entering into the museum area you will need to deposit your luggage, bags and the strollers in the cloakroom.
How to Reach the Bratislava Castle
There are 4 entrances to the castle – Sigismund Gate built in the 15th century, the 18th century Vienna Gate, the 16th century Nicholas Gate, and the Leopold Gate. If you plan to visit the castle by bus or by car you will enter from the historic Vienna Gate. There is plenty of parking space next to the Vienna Gate. If you are taking public transport, buses (203 or 207) will drop you at Zamocka stop in front of the Vienna Gate.
If you enter into the castle grounds from the old town you can enter the castle through either the Nicolas Gate or the Sigmund Gate. Sigmund Gate can be accessed from the Zamocke Schody street and enters the castle grounds from the south-eastern part of the castle. Nicholas Gate lets you enter the castle complex from the north-western side through a set of stairs leading from the Mikulaaka Street.
The open courtyard in front of the castle is known as the Yard of Honor. The entrance of the Yard of Honor is through two triumphal gates and guard houses of the imperial guard.
Tickets and Open Times
Next to the main castle building is a yellow building which has the information office and a restaurant. The ticket office is located next to the main entrance in the Yard of Honor. The castle is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 AM to 6 PM (April to Mid Novermber) and from 10 AM to 6 PM (Mid November – March end). The castle is closed on Monday.
The entrance to the Bratislava Castle is free on every first Sunday of the month. Visitors will have to collect the free ticket from the ticket office in the Yard of Honor.
History of Bratislava Castle
The castle dates back to the 9th century though it is believed that the castle hill was inhabited as early as the Stone Age and Bronze Age. The fortified settlement on the hill is said to be founded by the Celts. The castle has been rebuilt several times. The 11th century stone palace was rebuilt in Gothic style and then in Renaissance style and again later in Baroque style in the 18th century. The castle was reconstructed largely during the reign of Maria Theresa when it was transformed into a luxurious Baroque residence. French gardens and a beautiful Rococo palace called Theresianum were added.
During the 1500s the city of Bratislava became the official coronation town for Hungarian Kings and Hungarian coronation jewels were stored in the castle tower for almost 200 years.
The castle was destroyed and left in the ruins after the 1811 fire for nearly 150 years. The castle was reconstructed only in the late 1900s and later opened to the public.
Bratislava Castle Museum
Once you deposit your belongings in the cloakroom and start the tour of the castle you will enter into a large hall which displays pictures of reconstruction works that has been carried on the castle. The path to the upper floor is through a set of stairs decorated with red carpet. The whitewashed walls adorned gold stucco work and large gold framed mirrors look very impressive and regal.
One of the most important works of art in the Bratislava Castle is located in the Music Hall located on the first floor. An 18th-century monumental Baroque picture ‘The Assumption of the Virgin Mary’ by Anton Schmidt. There is also a
The Bratislava Castle Gallery holds an exhibition of a collection of pictures of the transformation of the castle from 16th century, the reconstruction and the castle after the 1811 fire. The History Museum housed in the castle holds information and artifacts on the history of Slovakia from the Middle Ages to the present. The exhibit consists of numismatic collection, historical glassware, and silverware, porcelain, ceramics, portraits and more. The museum also displays items and artifacts from the Paleolithic Period, Neolithic Period and the Bronze Age.
When we visited there was a fascinating temporary exhibition of the vintage collection called ‘Advertising and trade’. The exhibition collection consisted of old ad films, posters, and even vintage items like an old sewing machine, radios. There is a Cafe and Museum Shop at the end of the museum.
Here you can find a set of narrow stairs that lead to the crown tower. The stairs are very narrow and steep. We were a bit uncomfortable doing it with a toddler hence we had to return and continue with the museum. If you could brave the climb the tower offers great views of the UFO Tower, Danube and the city of Bratislava.
When you exit the castle entrance and walk towards the Nicolas Gate or Castle Garden, you will come across this small park where you can find reconstructed remains of the Great-Moravian basilica and other buildings from this era.
Views from the Castle
The castle terrace offers wonderful views of the Danube river, the UFO bridge, and the Bratislava Old Town. The ramparts of the Yard of Honor offers great panoramic views of the SNP Most (UFO bridge) and the Danube River.
Visitors can climb one of the four towers of the castle reached by a narrow set of stairs leading from the castle museum and enjoy bird eye view of the Bratislava city. It is the same tower which once stored the crown jewels of Hungary.
Another viewpoint is located on a terrace close to the Nicolas Gate and the castle restaurant which has splendid views of the old town rooftop along with the St Martin Cathedral and the medieval walls.
Bratislava Castle Garden
Another important attraction of the Bratislava Castle is a beautiful baroque garden on the backside of the castle. The garden features terraces with graduating landscaping. In the middle of the lower terrace, there is a small pond.
The garden is decorated with sculptures and flowerbeds. There is no entrance to the garden is free.
Bratislava Castle with Bratislava Card
The Bratislava Card comes with great offers and discounts. If you are visiting Bratislava Castle by public transport the Bratislava Card offers unlimited travel on public transport. It also offers various discounts on shopping and in restaurants. The Bratislava Card offers 20% discount on the entrance fee to the Bratislava Castle.
We entered the castle grounds through Vienna Gate. There are plenty of restaurants and souvenir shops along Palisady Street outside the Vienna gate. Next on our city sightseeing list was the Bratislava Old Town so we exited the castle grounds from the Nicolas Gate. The route to the Bratislava Old Town winds through some of the quaint houses, cafe, and restaurants if you looking to take a break and eat something.