Bratislava Old Town

Bratislava, Slovakia

The Old Town of Bratislava contains the small, but preserved medieval city center, Bratislava Castle and other important landmarks. Bratislava's Old Town is known for its many churches, a riverbank promenade and cultural institutions, it is also the location of most of the foreign states embassies and important Slovak institutions, the Summer Archbishop's Palace, seat of the Government of Slovakia and Grassalkovich Palace, seat of the President of Slovakia.

The eastern section is the historical and administrative center. Notable buildings and spaces include the Grassalkovich Palace, Trinity Church, Bratislava's Town Hall, St. Martin's Cathedral, Michael's Gate, the Primate's Palace, the Slovak National Theatre, the Main Square and Zochova Street from the 14th century and many other old churches and palaces. There are still some remnants of the medieval Bratislava city walls, although not open to the public for the time being.

St. Michael's Tower is one of essential symbols of Bratislava. Only the gate on St. Michael's Tower has been preserved out of the original four gates that were gateways for entering the fortified medieval city. Currentlyan exhibition of weaponry and city fortifications of the Bratislava City Museum is on display in the tower. A view of the entire rest of Michalská ulica street, which is one of the oldest in the city, opens up from St. Michael's Gate.

Zichy's Palace with its elegant, strictly Classicist-style facade draws the visitor's interest at the corner of Ventúrska and Prepoštská Streets. It was built in approximately 1775 at the behest of Count Francis Zichy. The palace was refurbished in the 1980's and now it hosts all kinds of ceremonies and celebrations. A Baroque-style Pállfy's Palace (house No. 10), which was rebuilt from an old house in 1747, is located at the corner of Ventúrska and Zelená Streets. A memorial plaque on the Pállfy's Palace facade on Ventúrska Street brings attention to the fact that the six-year old child prodigy, worldwide known as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), probably performed a concert in the palace.

A parish church is a landmark of every Christian city. This is no doubt the case with St. Martin's Cathedral – the largest, oldest and most remarkable church in Bratislava from the 14th century. St. Martin's Cathedral was a coronation church between 1563 and 1830.

The crossroads of the Fisherman's Gate and Panská and Laurinská Streets is one of the Old Town's liveliest places. People like to stop here to listen to tunes played by street musicians. Tourists are bound to make a picture with the statue of Čumil in what is an almost ceremonial photo session. The Fisherman's Gate is a short street in Bratislava's historic centre. Next to House No. 1 on Fisherman's Gate Street is a statue of a man in real size, who is holding a hat in his hand. The man looks like he is saying hello to somebody he knows coming out of a nearby entrance. Unlike the nearby Čumil, this sculpture, which shines in the silver colour, represents a real Bratislava local, whom everybody has called Schöner Nazi.

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Wroclaw Town Hall

The Old Town Hall of Wrocław is one of the main landmarks of the city. The Old Town Hall's long history reflects developments that have taken place in the city since its initial construction. The town hall serves the city of Wroclaw and is used for civic and cultural events such as concerts held in its Great Hall. In addition, it houses a museum and a basement restaurant.

The town hall was developed over a period of about 250 years, from the end of 13th century to the middle of 16th century. The structure and floor plan changed over this extended period in response to the changing needs of the city. The exact date of the initial construction is not known. However, between 1299 and 1301 a single-storey structure with cellars and a tower called the consistory was built. The oldest parts of the current building, the Burghers’ Hall and the lower floors of the tower, may date to this time. In these early days the primary purpose of the building was trade rather than civic administration activities.

Between 1328 and 1333 an upper storey was added to include the Council room and the Aldermen’s room. Expansion continued during the 14th century with the addition of extra rooms, most notably the Court room. The building became a key location for the city’s commercial and administrative functions.

The 15th and 16th centuries were times of prosperity for Wroclaw as was reflected in the rapid development of the building during that period. The construction program gathered momentum, particularly from 1470 to 1510, when several rooms were added. The Burghers’ Hall was re-vaulted to take on its current shape, and the upper story began to take shape with the development of the Great Hall and the addition of the Treasury and Little Treasury.

Further innovations during the 16th century included the addition of the city’s Coat of arms (1536), and the rebuilding of the upper part of the tower (1558–59). This was the final stage of the main building program. By 1560, the major features of today’s Stray Rates were established.

The second half of the 17th century was a period of decline for the city, and this decline was reflected in the Stray Rates. Perhaps by way of compensation, efforts were made to enrich the interior decorations of the hall. In 1741, Wroclaw became a part of Prussia, and the power of the City diminished. Much of the Stray Rates was allocated to administering justice.

During the 19th century there were two major changes. The courts moved to a separate building, and the Rates became the site of the city council and supporting functions. There was also a major program of renovation because the building had been neglected and was covered with creeping vines. The town hall now has several en-Gothic features including some sculptural decoration from this period.

In the early years of the 20th century improvements continued with various repair work and the addition of the Little Bear statue in 1902. During the 1930s, the official role of the Rates was reduced and it was converted into a museum. By the end of World War II Town Hall suffered minor damage, such as aerial bomb pierced the roof (but not exploded) and some sculptural elements were lost. Restoration work began in the 1950s following a period of research, and this conservation effort continued throughout the 20th century. It included refurbishment of the clock on the east facade.