Bratislava used to be the coronation city of Hungarian kings for almost 300 years. Between years 1536 and 1830, 10 kings, 1 queen (Maria Theresa) and 8 royal spouses were crowned in the St. Martin’s Cathedral in Bratislava.
Since the coronation was a big thing in Bratislava’s history, we thought it would be cool to recreate the journey as it used to happen in the past. So let’s spend an afternoon following the coronation route the monarchs and their suite attended!
This short journey will lead you through the most important stops at which the Coronation Ceremony took place. 178 brass plates with a crown icon mark most of the route – they are part of the pavement and are easy to follow :)
The scenario of the Coronation Ceremony was the same each year. The future monarch settled at the castle or at the Summer Archbishop’s Palace before the coronation. On the coronation day, he left with his suite towards the St. Martin’s Cathedral. And that’s where our route begins – at the Vydricka Gate near the cathedral. This gate has not been preserved up till now and it is only reminded by a few blocks on the corner house at the Rudnay Square.
Admire the beautiful small Rudnay Square which is very popular for its unique atmosphere. We love how the park area around the church connects with the street where you can find many restaurants and cafes. It is a truly enjoyable spot to sit down and have a drink or two.
ST. MARTIN’S CATHEDRAL
The coronation took place in the cathedral during a ceremonial mass. The Archbishop of Ostrihom crowned the future monarch by placing the Holy Crown of Hungary (also known as the Crown of Saint Stephen) on his head, a scepter in his right hand and an orb in his left hand. The king already entered the cathedral with the rest of the coronation insignias – the sword and the brocade cloak.
A replica of the St. Stephen’s crown placed on top of the cathedral’s 85 m high tower reminds us of this famous tradition. It weighs unbelievable 300 kg. In the cathedral, you can also see an incomplete list of the crowned monarchs on the left side of the Presbytery. Enjoy the beautiful interior and make sure you don‘t miss the small gate to the crypt with the catacombs!
KAPITULSKA, PREPOSTSKA, VENTURSKA AND SEDLARSKA STREETS
After the coronation, the monarch left the church from its northern side carrying the royal insignias (the crown, sword, sceptre, orb and a brocade coat) through Kapitulska, Prepostska, Venturska and Sedlarska Streets to The Main Square. The red cloth covered the footpath. The cloth was ripped by the people after the suite passe, as they were allowed to do so and keep it. Usually, it was accompanied by fighting and serious injuries. The suite was throwing coronation coins to people. In order to thank the king, people were screaming “Vivat Rex – Long Live the King”. Enjoy each of these ancient streets one by one.
Kapitulska Street is a very quiet street with no restaurants or cafes. It is one of the oldest streets and has been part of Bratislava for at least 800 years. It has the original bumpy stone pavement with many old buildings and is the center of the clerical life with the Prepostsky Palace, Jesuit College and Collegium Emericanum. An interesting object is a medieval clergyman’s house or houses of priests. Do notice renaissance paintings at the facade of the house number 15. House number 4 has been for a long time considered for the oldest one in the city. At the end of the street, there is a large Esterhazy Palace.
The Prepostska Street used to serve as a connecting line of the castle with the city and was also called “A Road to Martin”. Later they called it Little Kapitulska. The mostly renaissance buildings have their origin in the 17th century.
Venturska Street is a lively street full of cafes and restaurants. There is a number of beautiful palaces including the Erdody Palace from the end of 18th century, the Palffy Palace or the Zichy Palace. The Preßburger Zeitung newspaper used to be printed in the house number 5. The house number 7 used to host the city mint in the 15th century and during the reign of Matthias Corvinus, there was the famous Academia Istropolitana.
Sedlarska Street is famous for the Kutscherfeld Palace which hosts the French Institute or the famous Schone Naci statue. Stop here for a break in the historical Kaffee Mayer or Konditerei Kormuth – a cafe with historical paintings, decor and ambiance.
THE MAIN SQUARE
Once the king arrived to the Main Square, the representatives of the city greeted him in front of the Town Hall. You can see here the oldest fountain of the city. Its history is connected to the first king coronated in Bratislava and to his coronation itself. During the king Maximilian II’s coronation, a tragedy of a great fire hit the city. The extinguishing of the fire was too slow and insufficient due to lack of water. Consequently, it was decided that a large fountain at the Main Square would be built, to commemorate this event and to make sure there are sufficient water supplies for such extreme situations.
Use this chance to walk up to the Old Town Hall for a beautiful view.
THE FRANCISCAN SQUARE
From the Town Hall, the tour continues to the Franciscan Square. In the Franciscan Church, the newly coronated king appointed the Hungarian noblemen as the Knights of the Golden Spur.
The Franciscan Church is the oldest sacral relic in the city. It stands in diverse architectural styles and thus is an ideal example of the constructional development in Bratislava.
Admire a rococo jewel at the upper part of the square. If you have extra time, visit the Bratislava City Gallery – Mirbach Palace – located there.
BIELA AND MICHALSKA STREETS
The king riding a horse went through Biela Street to Michalska Street towards the Michael’s Gate and left the city through the gate. The marked trail with crown icons ends here.
Under the Michael’s Gate, do notice a zero kilometer, showing the direction and distance from Bratislava to other metropolitans in the world. Make sure to stop by in the Michael’s Tower for its museum and an absolutely stunning view.
The current SNP Square used to lie behind the city walls. They rised a temporary stage in front of the Monastery of the Church of the Merciful Brothers where the king made an oath to be faithful to his people.
SQUARE OF Ľ. ŠTÚR
The coronation journey ends at the Danube embankment, at the current Square of Ľ. Štúr. It used to be called a Coronation Hill in the past, as during the coronation a small hill made up of the soil of all Hungarian districts was built here. The monarch stepped on the hill and waved with his sword in all four directions as a symbol that he is ready to protect the kingdom against the enemy from all directions.
The monarch got to this point through the Fisherman’s (Rybarska) Gate. It used to stand at the Hviezdoslav’s Square in front of the Slovak National Theater. It has not been preserved but you can see its remains covered by the glass.
Enjoy your visit!
Author: Zuzana Mytna