By: Janet Steinberg
day.) Welcome to Bratislava.
A SLOVAK WELCOMING COMMITTEE
the powerful capital of Hungary for more than three centuries during the Middle
Ages, is now the bustling modern capital of SLOVAKIA. This picturesque city, situated where the
Danube River meets the Carpathian Mountains, borders Austria in the west and
Hungary in the south.
a part of Czechoslovakia, Bratislava became the capital of the Slovak Republic
on January 1, 1993. It is the seat of
the most important political, scientific, industrial, commercial, educational
and cultural institutions of Slovakia.
Bratislava, formerly known as Pressburg, is populated by some 599,000
1972, when the Communists demolished the run-down Jewish Quarter, they
justified their actions by claiming they were destroying houses of ill repute.
The once-vibrant Jewish ghetto was destroyed by the Communists and replaced by
the Novy Most (New Bridge)
touching Holocaust Memorial, inscribed with the single word Pamataj!
(Remember!) stands on the site where the old synagogue was destroyed. A likeness of the old synagogue is etched
into the granite wall behind the memorial.
baroque, historic, Old Quarter of Bratislava is in sharp contrast to the
unsightly concrete structures erected by the Communists in the 1970s. The Old Quarter houses a wide spectrum of
museums and galleries.
Slovak National Museum (Slovenske Narodne
Muzeum), a monumental building completed in 1928, features a department that
documents and honors the culture of the Jewish people in Slovakia. The Museum of Viticulture, that documents the
history of wine-growing in Bratislava, and The Clock Museum are also worth
Museum of Jewish Culture (Muzeum Zidovskej Kultury) founded in 1991, displays
an interesting collection of artifacts, and chronicles the lives of famous
Slovak Jews. Among them are J.B.
Bettelheim, who translated the bible into Chinese and Japanese, Eduard Mahler a
renowned astronomer and mathematician, and Rabbi Chatam Sofer, one of the
greatest Jewish scholars who lived in Bratislava from 1806 to 1837.
year, Jews from around the world visit the Mausoleum of Chatam Sofer to pay
reverence and give thanks to this renowned scholar. The mausoleum is a component part of the
former Jewish cemetery (1670-1847) where 23 graves and 43 separate tombstones
are located on the original area.
years, a train route ran over the cemetery and Chatam Sofer’s grounds were in a
state of disrepair. On July 5, 1999, a
historic agreement was made to divert the train route. The work on the route’s detour began on
October 13 of that year and was finished on November 25.
2001, the reconstruction of the tomb continued with the construction of a
memorial on the ground over the tombs.
Its entrance wall was to feature the names of Slovak Jews who perished
in the Holocaust.
settlements in Slovakia (the home of Andy Warhol’s parents) are traced back to
the end of the 1st century.
century, they were modeled after those in Poland. The country’s Jewish cemeteries, and the few
preserved synagogues, are the last material evidence of the religious life of
the Jewish communities in Slovakia.
Castle, built more than 1000 years ago on a promontory some 270 feet above the
Danube, dominates the city as it stands guard over the river. The landmark castle derived its nickname of
the “upturned table” from its silhouette that gives that appearance. From the castle grounds, one can enjoy a
panoramic view of the city’s contrasting architecture.
time permits, take in a reasonably priced performance at the Opera House of the
Slovak National Theatre. In front of the
theatre, designed by prominent Vienna architects Fellner and Helmer
(1884-1886), there is a lovely fountain by V. Tilgner.
Revival-style Reduta building is the seat of the Slovak Philharmonic and the
home of the city’s largest casino and a fine restaurant. In an elegant setting, the restaurant offers
a variety of tasty regional specialties.
housed in the former Castle stables, is one of the best restaurants in town. With a panoramic view of
the Old Town, huge chandeliers cast a glow on a feast of hearty Slovak and
Restauracia, opposite the Carlton Hotel near the Opera House, is also a good place to try
traditional Slovak cuisine. During
dinner hours, Slovak music adds to the atmosphere.
dishes that go right to the hips and the arteries include: palacinky (crepes) served with chocolate sauce, ice cream or
preserves; vyprazany syr (fried cheese with tartar sauce); and tatranska
hrianka (Tatra toast), a sinful concoction of goose livers sauteed with
sweet red peppers and served on thick slabs of homemade bread.
addition to Slovak food, restaurants in Bratislava feature Italian, Asian,
Balkan, and French food, as well as kosher dishes in Jewish restaurants.
bars and cellars scattered throughout Old Town are the best places for tasting
the Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and other wines (vino) of the region. Martiner and Gold Fassel are the beers
(pivot) of choice.
for handicrafts including valenky (brightly colored felt boots),
porcelain, ceramics, wood carvings, embroidery, lace, and pottery.
(Goodbye.) Until we meet again in
HUSBAND, AND FRIEND BID FAREWELL TO BRATISLAVA
award-winning Travel Writer and a Travel Consultant with THE TRAVEL AUTHORITY
in Mariemont, Ohio.