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Top Pick: Seeing Bratislava by car

DO YOU know which buildings still carry the cannonballs that Napoleon's army fired on Bratislava in 1809? Do you know who lived there and what functions the buildings served? Did you know that the legendary Čumil (Peeper - the statue of a man peering out of a sewer) got his name because of his habit of peeping under women's skirts?
You can now learn these and many other things about life in the Bratislava Old Town core from the Austro-Hungarian empire until today in a comfortable way. Instead of walking the sun-baked cobblestones of one of the largest pedestrian zones in Europe, there is an option - take a drive.


HOP into this remake of a historical Škoda on Františkánske Square.
photo: Courtesy of the Šmidák family

DO YOU know which buildings still carry the cannonballs that Napoleon's army fired on Bratislava in 1809? Do you know who lived there and what functions the buildings served? Did you know that the legendary Čumil (Peeper - the statue of a man peering out of a sewer) got his name because of his habit of peeping under women's skirts?

You can now learn these and many other things about life in the Bratislava Old Town core from the Austro-Hungarian empire until today in a comfortable way. Instead of walking the sun-baked cobblestones of one of the largest pedestrian zones in Europe, there is an option - take a drive.

The Šmidák family - father, daughter and son - will drive you around the capital's core in a 15-seat historical car, which the town's mayor has dubbed Prešporáčik (meaning little Presburg, the German name for Bratislava). The sight-seeing tour, which can be done in English, German, French or Slovak, takes from 30 to 60 minutes. Passengers can stop the car as often as they wish.

"It's a tour that can be tailor-made for anyone," says Jana Šmidáková, the daughter of the family and the tour's guide. "We can change the route, drop the time restrictions and stop anywhere people ask to."

She explains that the only condition to start the car is to have at least two passengers aboard. The weather is no problem since the car has a convertible roof and windows.

The 30-minute tour begins on Františkánske Square and circles the Old Town passing Main Square, Panenská Street, Hviezdoslavovo Square and Kapitulská Street up to Michalská Gate, returning to the starting point through Zámočnícka Street.

If you go for the longer, one-hour drive that starts in front of the harbour on the Danube embankment, you need to book it in advance. The route is then enriched by seeing the embankment up to Rybné Square near the Hotel Danube.

The Šmidák family initially started their tour business in the Bratislava historical centre with a horse-drawn carriage. They are still running it, but at the same time have added a means of transport that can carry larger groups of people.

"We wanted to transport more tourists at once. My father then found a photograph of an old car and decided to make a similar one out of an old Škoda 1203 ," says Šmidáková.

The car is parked on Františkánske Square from 08:00 until nightfall. A 30-minute drive costs Sk150 for Slovaks and Sk200 for foreigners (per person). For one-hour drive prices and further information contact the Šmidáks at 0903/302-817.

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