The Palace, built in 1778 and located in the centre of Old Town, gets my vote for the most beautiful building in Bratislava. Its pale pink and white exterior is topped with various marble statues and a large cast iron cardinal’s hat. The hat is a symbol of the Archbishop, for whom the palace was built, and of the various cardinals who lived here throughout the years.
The palace is filled with large oil portraits of Hapsburg royalty, including one from 1742 of Marie Therese at her coronation. Individual rooms are sparsely furnished, which causes you to focus on what is there – large, sparkling crystal chandeliers and walls adorned with six English tapestries from the 17th century that had been hidden in the palace walls and discovered during renovations in the early 1900s. The tapestries depict the story of Hero and Leander, young Greek lovers who lived on opposite sides of the Hellespont. Hero lit a lamp in her tower to guide Leander in his nightly swim to visit her. One night, a storm caused the lamp to burn out, and without that focal point to guide him, Leander was unable to find the shore and drowned. When Hero found out about Leander’s death she took her own life – very much a Greek Romeo and Juliet.
Another major attraction in the palace is the ornate Hall of Mirrors. Although built on a smaller scale than Versailles, the Hall is still an impressive sight as well as being historically significant. It was here that Napoleon and Francis I signed the Treaty of Pressberg (Bratislava’s former name) in 1805, after the Battle of Austerlitz where 50,000 Russian, French and Austrian troops were killed.
Other points of interest are the fountain and statue of St. George in the courtyard and the St. Ladislaus chapel. The chapel was being renovated and was not open to visitors but supposedly has some impressive frescoes.
The palace is open from Tuesday through Sunday, 10am to 5pm, and admission is 40SK.