The streets of the city are busy. Everyone wants to see the new king, grab at least one of the coins being tossed around, drink red wine pouring out of the city fountain and taste the roasted ox. Coronations of Hungarian monarchs made Bratislava famous in the Middle Ages. Nowadays, you can enjoy them once a year.
“It is important that Bratislava reminds of its past, because without past there is no future,” said historian Vladimír Tomčík. “When Pressburg became a coronation town, its social importance placed it among such cities as Reims, London, Prague and Vienna.”
This top event moved to Pressburg in 1563 when the coronation of Maximilian Habsburg could not take place in the traditional coronation town of Székesfehérvár in the Kingdom of Hungary because it fell under the rule of the Ottoman Empire after the Battle of Mohács in 1526.
This year, you can join in on the coronation festivities from Friday, September 13 to Sunday, September 15. Some highlights include cultural programmes, theatre performances, exhibitions, concerts, period games, the coronation fair of period crafts and more. It is definitely worth it to stay in Bratislava for several more days.
The coronation parade itself, re-enacted according to historical documents, will start on Saturday, September 14 at the Bratislava Castle. Much like the old days, the royal crown, the sword, a richly-embroidered mantle, the orb and the sceptre will be ceremonially transferred from Bratislava castle across the city. This solemn procession will be a magnificent sight amplified by actors in period costumes.
A photo-video point will greet you in St Michael’s Tower. You can take a picture here or make a video in a period costume with a royal insignia for free.
Retrace steps of the kings
But the city’s famous history can be enjoyed throughout the whole year. The coronation route, indicated with bronze crown markings on the pavement, takes you to the authentic coronation sites.
The 160 kg golden crown on the tower of St Martin’s Cathedral recalls the distinctive past of the city. Legend has it that even a horse carriage can fit on the cushion beneath the crown. But this legend is in fact a myth as the cushion is ‘only’ 1.35 x 1.35 metres.
If historical details are of interest to you, you can find a list of monarchs who were crowned here in the cathedral’s presbytery. When painters were painting it on the wall in the 19th century, they made four mistakes, so you should know that 11 kings and seven royal spouses were crowned in Bratislava until 1830.
Other places associated with the coronations are the Franciscan church and the castle. In the church, you can imagine the king knighting the chosen noblemen, and in the castle, you can visit the tower where crown jewels used to be stored. Today, you can take a picture of a copy of the Saint Stephen’s crown.
Those with the tourist Bratislava Card get a 20 percent discount on admission.