Smurf Church

One of the quirkiest sights in Bratislava is the Church of St. Elizabeth – commonly known as Blue Church. It’s also known as the Smurf Church!!!!!

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It is a Hungarian Secessionist Catholic church located in the eastern part of the Old Town in Bratislava and is decorated in Art Nouveau style and  is astonishingly blue from tiles to pews to the roof.

It is consecrated to Elisabeth of Hungary, daughter of Andrew II, who grew up in the Pressburg (Bratislava) Castle. Saint Elizabeth is often shown holding a basket of bread, or some other sort of food or beverage, characteristic of her devotion to the poor and hungry.

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Elizabeth is perhaps best known for her miracle of the roses which says that while she was taking bread to the poor in secret, she met her husband Ludwig on a hunting party, who, in order to quell suspicions of the gentry that she was stealing treasure from the castle, asked her to reveal what was hidden under her cloak.

In that moment, her cloak fell open and a vision of white and red roses could be seen, which proved to Ludwig that God’s protecting hand was at work. The circular mosaic art above the door depicts this moment.

The Blue Church’s oval tower is 36.8 metres tall.

Interior decorations include the Elisabethan rose. Two coast of arms are displayed – Hungarian and the City of Bratislava.

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Bratislava Castle

One of the most prominent structures in the city is Bratislava Castle.

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Sat 85 metres (279 ft) above the Danube. The “upside down table” as it is affectionately known by locals, is an imposing glaringly white block.

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You can see it from most places as it looms, in an almost affectionate way, over the town .

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The castle was converted into a Gothic anti-Hussite fortress under Sigismund of Luxemburg in 1430, became a Renaissance castle in 1562 and was rebuilt in 1649 in a baroque style.

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In 1811, the castle was destroyed by fire and lay in ruins until the 1950s  when it was rebuilt mostly in its former Theresian style.

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As usual we whisked around the outside but refused to pay to go in! I have a lot of exterior memories of places . . .

Central Europe beckons

Hot on the heels of our Malaga holiday we decided to head in completely different direction for our next travel fix.

Hence we found ourselves heading to central (almost Eastern) Europe in the shape of Slovakian capital Bratislava and the sprawling beauty of Budapest.

Here’s Bratislava as seen from the castle, with the Danube River in the background.

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Positioned in southwestern Slovakia, occupying both banks of the Danube River and the left bank of the Morava River it borders Austria and Hungary. It’s the largest city in Slovakia and has a population of about 500,000.

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Interesting fact alert!!! It is the only national capital that borders two independent countries.

While the old town is compact and it’s easy to see all the main sites in half a day at a push, it’s the kind of place that you either breeze through quickly or find yourself content to just veg out for weeks!

These’s a lot of statues in the old town, ranging from the oft photographed “man at work” of a worker peeking out of a man hole, to Napoleon prying into the affairs of seated tourists.

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Neil, as usual was forced to pose with anything that I spotted!!! (He loves it really) Here he is as a) Slovakian lady  d) porky mates c) chillin with Napolean d) ice cream testing

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We stayed in two different hotels during our stay in Bratislava. First up is the Hotel Devin. Wonderfully situated on the banks of the River Danube, it’s five minutes walk to the old town and 15 minutes from the train station.

With a rather imposing Soviet facade the hotel has had a complete refurb in the past few years and is now a sumptous, luxurious and lovely place to stay. There’s a wonderful wellness centre with pool, sauna, plunge pool and steam room plus the best breakfast I’ve had in Europe!

Here’s the view from room 318 across the Danube and towards the UFO bridge. The hotel is also minutes away from the national theatre.

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It’s a short walk from the main bus station too. (Which we couldn’t find initially – hence having to walk all the way to the river from the train station to find the hotel!!)

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It features some thoughtful graffiti (and some not so thoughtful too!!!)

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Artwork is a feature of most European towns and Bratislava is no exception. Here’s Neil striking a pose.

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And in stark contrast to the harsh new traditions, we also stumble across a festival celebrating Slovakian traditions. Here’s a rather imposing gentleman working the anvil (plus an odd green man too).

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