The appealing capital Bratislava

Like Vienna, Bratislava (pop. 430,000) is located on the Danube River, and these days it's a buzzing city with myriad shops, cafés, restaurants, and bars (Slovaks are biiig beer drinkers, try the local brands like Šariš and Zlatý Bažant). At the centre is a small medieval core which though sliced through by an ugly Communist-era bridge is still atmospheric (it can also get a bit crowded in summer - both with locals and many of the roughly one million tourists who visit here annually). The hub of this Staré Mesto is its main square, Hlavné Námestie, home to the Gothic Stará Radnica (Old City Hall, housing the city museum and a 45-metre/148-foot tower with great views over the Old Town), the neo-Baroque Palugyayov Palác (used by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs), and at its centre Roland Fountain topped by a statue of 16th-century king Maximilian II. Other major landmarks nearby include the 13th-century Gothic St. Martin's Cathedral, the late-17th-century neoclassical Primate's Palace (now home to a collection of - of all things - rare English tapestries).

Read more in our post Slovakia Is an Under-the-radar European Gem.




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