The Grassalkovich Palace is the residence of the president of Slovakia. The building is a Rococo/late Baroque summer palace with a French garden. It was built in 1760 for Count Antal Grassalkovich, a Hungarian noble serving as the head of the Hungarian Chamber (a sort of ministry of economy and finance for the Kingdom of Hungary), by architect Anton Mayerhofer. It features many beautiful rooms and an impressive staircase. The chapel is decorated with frescoes by Joseph von Pichler.
The building became a center of Baroque musical life in Pozsony/Pressburg. Joseph Haydn premiered some of his works here. Count Grassalkovich also had his orchestra and his 'colleague', Prince Esterházy, used to 'lend' him his favorite conductor, Haydn. Grassalkovich was Maria Theresa's vassal, so the palace was used for various balls and parties of the Habsburg royal court. For example, it was Haydn who conducted the orchestra when Maria Theresa's daughter married Albert of Sachsen-Teschen, then governor of the Kingdom of Hungary (see Bratislava Castle). Ľudovít Štúr is said to have declared his love to Adela Ostrolúcka for the first time during a ball organized by archduke Stephen Francis Victor (Buda 14 September 1817 – Menton 19 February 1867), son of the Palatine, Joseph. The last owners of the palace before the end of Austria-Hungary were archduke Frederick of Teschen with his wife Isabella of Croy-Dülmen.
From 1919 the palace was occupied by the Territorial Military Command.
During the 1939–1945 period, the palace was adapted by Emil Belluš and became the seat of the president of the First Slovak Republic (i.e. of Jozef Tiso). During the Communist era, it was first (after 1945) the seat of the Council of Commissioners (also styled Corps of Plenipotentiaries), which was a quasi-government of Slovakia within Czechoslovakia. In 1950, the building was turned into the 'Klement Gottwald House of Pioneers and Youth' (Dom pionierov a mládeže Klementa Gottwalda), which was an activity center for Bratislava's schoolchildren, all of whom were so-called pioneers at that time. The schoolchildren caused extensive damage to the palace, and the necessary restoration only became possible following the transition from Communism in late 1989 with the Velvet Revolution.
After its reconstruction in the early 1990s, on 30 September 1996 the palace became the residence of Slovakia's president. Its once-large gardens are now a public park, complete with a statue of Bratislava-born composer Jan Nepomuk Hummel.References:
The Externsteine (Extern stones) is a distinctive sandstone rock formation located in the Teutoburg Forest, near the town of Horn-Bad Meinberg. The formation is a tor consisting of several tall, narrow columns of rock which rise abruptly from the surrounding wooded hills. Archaeological excavations have yielded some Upper Paleolithic stone tools dating to about 10,700 BC from 9,600 BC.
In a popular tradition going back to an idea proposed to Hermann Hamelmann in 1564, the Externsteine are identified as a sacred site of the pagan Saxons, and the location of the Irminsul (sacral pillar-like object in German paganism) idol reportedly destroyed by Charlemagne; there is however no archaeological evidence that would confirm the site's use during the relevant period.
The stones were used as the site of a hermitage in the Middle Ages, and by at least the high medieval period were the site of a Christian chapel. The Externsteine relief is a medieval depiction of the Descent from the Cross. It remains controversial whether the site was already used for Christian worship in the 8th to early 10th centuries.
The Externsteine gained prominence when Völkisch and nationalistic scholars took an interest in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This interest peaked under the Nazi regime, when the Externsteine became a focus of nazi propaganda. Today, they remain a popular tourist destination and also continue to attract Neo-Pagans and Neo-Nazis.