Pinsteps. Michael's Gate: Bratislava's Time-Honored Portal
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Michael's Gate is the sole surviving city gate from Bratislava's medieval fortifications and is among the city's oldest structures, built around 1300. Its current Baroque style dates back to a 1758 reconstruction, marked by the addition of a statue of Saint Michael slaying a dragon atop the tower. The tower now houses a Bratislava City Museum exhibition on medieval weaponry.

Originally, Bratislava was fortified with walls, accessible only through four heavily fortified gates. To the east were the Laurinc Gates, named after Saint Lawrence, and to the south, the Fishermen's Gates, primarily used by fishermen entering the city with their Danube catch. The western Vydrická Gates, also known as the Dark or Black Gates, resembled a long, dark tunnel. The northern Saint Michael's Gates were named after the nearby Saint Michael's Church, which was later dismantled to reuse materials for additional city walls.

The history of Michael's Gate dates back to the late 13th century, with the first documented mention in 1411, depicting fortifications in front of Michael's Castle accompanied by a drawbridge over a moat, later rebuilt in stone. A portcullis and a wooden door secured the entrance.

During the coronation of 19 Hungarian kings in Bratislava (1563–1830), the ruler and his entourage entered the city through Vydrická Gates, with coronations held at Saint Martin's Cathedral. Post-coronation processions paused at Michael's Gate, where the new king gave his oath to the archbishop.

A stone Gothic plaque inside the Gate states that the tower was repaired by Bratislava's city council and citizens in 1758. Michael's Gate was part of a more extensive fortification system, including two rings of city walls, two bastions, a barbican, and a bridge over a water moat. While the city walls have disappeared in this part of the city, the Barbican survives, albeit partially built over.

The bridge, now replaced by a wooden structure, led to the construction of today's Michael's Bridge in 1727, the city's oldest. The area also contains the last remaining section of Bratislava's moat, half of which has been open to the public since 2006.

Today, the tower hosts a museum of Bratislava's medieval fortifications, detailing the city's origins, reconstruction, and eventual 18th-century dismantling as fortified walls hindered city growth. The museum's exhibits cover this history, and the sixth-floor balcony offers panoramic views of the Old Town, the castle, and surrounding areas.

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Evgeny Praisman
Vienna to Budapest via Bratislava

The journey from Vienna to Budapest via Bratislava includes a stop in Bratislava for a city tour. Explore the rich history of Bratislava, visit the bustling city square, admire the grandeur of the palace, walk through the iconic St. Michael's Gate, and experience the elegance of the Opera House.

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Evgeny Praisman (author)
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