The Human Face – Freedom or Death:  paintings and sculptures by 37 Slovak and Czech artists. And one American is running at Bratislava Castle’s third floor exhibition area until April 30, 2022. It‘s also a tribute to the 100th anniversary of the birth of Alexander Dubček – a politician and key figure in Czechoslovak history.

The artists‘ work – created over several decades –  reflects this theme as symbols of the crucifixion. The cross, or dialogue with death in tribute to social events in the late 1960s and late ‘80s early ‘90s. These periods brought about major changes in people’s behaviour, attitudes, actions, and relationship between personal activity and social events. People’s internal struggle were symbolically portrayed by artists through paintings and sculptures.

Pavol Orszagh Hviezdoslav was a great Slovak poet and patriot. In 1905, Hviezdoslav reacted to the revolutionary events in Russia. In 1914, he responded to the start of the First World War with the Bloody Sonnets poem cycle. They were written in August and September of that year but unpublished until after the war.

The poet welcomed the establishment of a common Czechoslovakia, and the state in turn showed him respect too. In February 1919 his 70th birthday was celebrated. He even became politically active during this period – as an MP and as one of the four presidents of the Matica.

In November 1919, he and his wife arrived in Prague for a parliamentary session. Already suffering health problems, in May 1921 he was treated for heart disease. He died on November 8, 1921 in his Dolný Kubín flat, and he was buried in the town’s cemetery. In honour of Pavel Országh Hviezdoslav, The grand square by Bratislava’s historic SND building was named in his honour, as well as the  Municipal Theatre on Laurinská Street.

All Saints Day was established by the Eastern Church in the 4th century, and it is still celebrated on the first Sunday after Pentecost. In the 7th century, Pope Boniface IV transferred the martyrs‘ bones to the Roman Pantheon. It was originally celebrated on May 13.

According to ethnologist Margita Jágerová from the University of Constantine the Philosopher in Nitra, the spring date was related to the arrival of birds, nature’s seasonal reawakening, and the idea that the souls of the dead returning to the living as birds on this important date. Feasts and then offerings were made by graves. Pope Gregor IV in 835 then moved this occasion to  1 November.

It was generally established as church-wide holy day only after the Council of Trident in 1549. All Saints Day is followed by the Memorial of the Dead – popularly called ‘Dušičky’. This was introduced by St. Abbot Odilo of Cluny in 998 and accepted in Rome in the 14th century. Protestant churches do not recognize the cult of saints or All Saint Day. Church calendars, however, include the Memorial of the Dead, but for Protestants one of the most important holidays is October 31 – the Reformation in 1517.

Bratislava (previously Pozsony)  was the Kingdom of Hungary’s coronation city from 1563 to 1830. The last ruler to complete this solemn ceremony here on 28 September 191 years ago was Ferdinand V – nicknamed Dobrotivý. „At dusk the procession moved from Primate’s Palace to St. Martin’s Cathedral. The emperor and empress sat on thrones to the left of the altar, and the prince in the centre.

The coronation ceremony was led by Cardinal Alexander Rudnay, who was one of the few members of the high ecclesiastical hierarchy of aristocratic origin to declare his Slovak nationality. Streets were festively lit and full of people until late in the evening. The huge crowd included leading monarchy nobility: Count Zichy, Nádasda, Prince Esterházy, etc.” Ferdinand V was gifted 50 thousand ducats from the estates, which he donated to charity and expanding the military academy.

Original source in Slovak language: bratislavskenoviny

In the 1930s, Bratislava ’s supply of social housing fell short of the growing working class’s needs. And mainly for small 500 flats. In just 13 days, young architect Emil Belluš developed the design and project of some residential buildings. These were then built (and still stand) on Trenčianska Street in 1931.

„Architect was working with a relatively narrow corridor – defined by Trenčianska and Miletičova streets. Each of the eight detached buildings had 32 flats, i.e. 256 in total. Each comprises two wings with a central access staircase. Upper floors flats are identical, with living  room, kitchen, hall, pantry, WC. And communal bathrooms along the corridor,” states the Register of Architecture.

The shared bathrooms have long since been replaced by en-suite solutions in flats.

Original source in Slovak language: bratislavskenoviny

In 1913 a major fire engulfed numerous houses in Bratislava ’s Podhradí (below-castle) area. Starting from thatched roofs in the Jewish quarter, the fire spread to other streets. Firefighters from as far afield as Vienna came to fight the blaze.

„Saturday’s peace and quiet was abruptly curtailed just after four in the afternoon with reports that a fire had broken out near St. Martin’s Cathedral. Even though firefighters arrived within six minutes, the fire had already taken hold due to the warm southern wind, humidity, and houses’ wooden construction“. It is based on historical sources, a large fire raged in the castle grounds (reports the Bratislavské rožky website).

„The fire seriously damaged Židovska Street, which had been considered a vibrant but rather down-at-heel area. After the fire, Palocz had suggested improving the housing and planned an eight-metre-wide street for better access in the area. He had wanted to connect it to an extended Zámocká Street. But the war’s outbreak meant the plan never came to fruition,“ states the website.

Original source in Slovak language: bratislavskenoviny

Know how Vydrica and Rybne square looked before SNP Bridge was built? Check out the unique Lost Landmarks of the Lost City by Tomáš Stern and the Jewish Religious Community (under the auspices of Bratislava Old Town).

The outstanding features were St. Martin’s Cathedral, and a neological synagogue dating to 1893. As the Central Union of Jewish Religious Communities in the Slovak Republic describes on its website, it was built in Moorish style, characterized by coloured tiles and two corner towers. The architect was Dionýz Milch who received the commission from the neological part of the Bratislava Jewish community, which also wanted to differentiate itself from the conservative Orthodox Jewish community.

During the war the synagogue fell into disuse, and after the communists took power it became a warehouse. In the 1960s, the decision was made to construct another bridge (built between 1967 and 1972) across the Danube. This project necessitated the demolition of several valuable historical buildings (including the synagogue), almost all the buildings on Židovská Street, part of Rybného Square, and Žižková Street buildings. Today you can wander – if sadly not the streets themselves – at lease their history in virtual reality.

Original source in Slovak language:

Bratislava ’s access points used to be inscribed City of Peace. But why?

Mainly because three major peace treaties were signed in the city. The first on July 2, 1271 between Hungarian King Stephen V and Czech King Přemysl Otakar II – Czech troops had conquered Bratislava, Nitra, Trnava and part of Považia. So the Hungarian ruler surrendered Styria, Kransko and Carinthia in exchange for the Czech king leaving the occupied territories.

The second peace treaty was signed on December 30, 1626 during the Bethlen estate uprising from Transylvania.

The third was signed on December 26, 1805 in the Hall of Mirrors at the Primate Palace. It was shortly after the bloody battle of three emperors near Slavkov in Moravia in which 25,000 soldiers died on one day. Napoleon’s army then defeated the Austrian and Russian armies. This peace treaty’s signing was so symbolic that one of the twelve streets that lead to Paris’s Arc de Triomphe is called Rue de Presbourg, with an accompanying café of the same name.

Original source in Slovak language:

Did you know about relationship Mary Habsburg to Bratislava?

Many Bratislavans feared for the fire-damaged building ’s fate – after the once beautiful historical structure was engulfed in flames during the Christmas market two years ago. While reconstruction of this national cultural monument on the Main Square continues, the damaged facade has already been returned to its former resplendent glory.

Did you know that it stands on the site of a notable building where Mary Habsburg had sought refuge? She had been the young widow of Hungarian King Louis II Jagelsky who had died in 1526 at the Battle of Mohács.

That Middle Ages Auer burgher family home was demolished in 1906 and replaced by the Art Nouveau bank palace (1911). Kooperativa insurance company is located here today. Mary Habsburg probably stayed in the Auer family home until she moved into the renovated royal mansion on Ventúrska Street. That house in the 17th century played an important role in the history of the Evangelicals, who were in dire straits. After the Turks had destroyed their prayer house, their services in 1683 were held at the house of Ernest Auer, who was an Evangelical Church inspector.

Translated from the source

Splendid Café Štefánka – on the corner of Palisády and Štefánikova streets – dates to the beginning of the 20th century. i.e. the Hackenberg dynasty. Located in an 1897 Alexander Feigler building, in 1904 Béla I. Hackenberger became the tenant and operator of the original Mezey Café. He renamed it Café Štefánka (Stephania, Stefánia caféház) – after the widow of heir to the throne Rudolf who committed suicide with his mistress. Café Štefánka (Palisády and Štefánikova streets) a cult meeting place for Bratislava’s intelligentsia, writers, poets, journalists, artists, doctors, lawyers and factory owners for many years.

Ján Smrek recited the verses of his immortal poem „Poet and Woman“ to his friends in Café Štefánka, as well as other verses in its pleasant atmosphere… Sculptor Tibor Bártfay likened the café to Montparnasse in Paris. After 1948, Café Štefánka was nationalized and then managed by RaJ (Restaurants and Canteens) until 1948. Café Štefánka’s spiritual and architectural betrayal culminated in 1989 when the Old Town’s former management leased the building to a Chinese restaurant. Café Štefánka has now proudly returned to its original name and former fashionable monarchist spirit.

Translation from origin source