Capital's medieval city gate unearthed

Rybárská brána (Fisherman's Gate), one of four original Bratislava town gates dating from the 14-15th centuries, is currently being unearthed on the Slovak capital's Hviezdoslavovo námestie (Hviezdoslav Square). City officials and archaeologists are calling it an important historical excavation.
The archaeological dig is located between the National Opera House and the Spaghetti and Co. Restaurant at the north-east end of the square.
The gate is being excavated by the Municipal Institute of Monument Preservation. The Institute studied the site in July to determine the future of the find, and whether the gate could be removed from its buried location or had to be presented on-site.


The dig is drawing sightseers in front of the Slovak National Theatre...
photo: Ján Svrček

Rybárská brána (Fisherman's Gate), one of four original Bratislava town gates dating from the 14-15th centuries, is currently being unearthed on the Slovak capital's Hviezdoslavovo námestie (Hviezdoslav Square). City officials and archaeologists are calling it an important historical excavation.

The archaeological dig is located between the National Opera House and the Spaghetti and Co. Restaurant at the north-east end of the square.

The gate is being excavated by the Municipal Institute of Monument Preservation. The Institute studied the site in July to determine the future of the find, and whether the gate could be removed from its buried location or had to be presented on-site.

Old Town Spokesman Milan Vajda said August 3 that the Institute had presented the city district mayor with three proposals.

"The mayor has looked at the suggestions and has already decided what to do," Vajda said. "The gate will not be removed from its present location. Instead, we will cover the site with some sort of transparent material - perhaps thick glass, for example - and leave the gate on display [below the feet of passers-by]."

The Old Town had actually known of the buried gate for some years. The city held back on excavation, however, because it said it needed to wait for a suitable time to begin the project. With the ongoing reconstruction of the Hotel Carlton and Hviezdoslavovo námestie, Vajda added, the time to unearth Rybarská brana had come.


...with its historical and archaeological significance.
photo: Ján Svrček

"In terms of significance, this is comparable to the discovery of the remains of St. Jacob's church in front of Stará Tržnica [Old Marketplace, on SNP square]," Vajda said. "For the city district, it is a necessity that we present such a site, it is one of our communal responsibilities."

Branislav Lesák, an archeologist with the Municipal Institute, agreed the find was an important one. "It's the best-preserved gate, archaeologically, out of the three original gates which were destroyed," he said. "It also has a historical significance as it adds new knowledge about the fortification of the southern town's part and how gates were constructed then."

The city's four original gates included Michalská brána (Michael's Gate) on Michalská Street (on the north corner of the Old Town), Laurinská brána on Laurinská Street (east), Vydrická brána in the west where Panská Street leads to Rudnayovo námestie, and Rybárska brána to the south. Of the four, only Michalská brána was not destroyed.

The Old Town district will cover all costs of the Rybárská brána project. Vajda said that the city had already spent 100,000 Slovak crowns ($2,000) on initial work done by the Institute. In total, the Old Town expects to lay out an additional 800,000 to 900,000 crowns.

- With Zuzana Habšudová

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