THE FORMER CORONATION CAPITAL BRINGS TO LIFE ANOTHER EPISODE OF ITS ROYAL HISTORY

Bratislava crowns another head

"PRESSBURG - that time the coronation capital of the Hungarian Empire - experienced its unparalleled glory in 1563. For the first time in its history it saw the coronation of a Hungarian king and queen. On September 8, the highest clerical notability put the St Stephan's royal crown on the head of Maximilian II, the son of Emperor Ferdinand I of Habsburg, in the decorated St Martin's Cathedral," historian Štefan Holčík writes of Bratislava (then Pressburg) in his book Korunovačné slávnosti (Coronation Ceremonies).
On the next day, the royal court celebrated the coronation of Maximilian's wife.
Those medieval times have now returned to Bratislava. Following last year's re-enactment of the coronation of King Maximilian II, visitors to the city these days can watch the coronation of his wife. The ceremonial act, accompanied by a tournament of knights, medieval musicians, and folk crafts will take place on September 4.


A FESTIVAL fit for a king - last year's coronation of Maximilian II.
photo: Courtesy of the Bratislava Old Town council

"PRESSBURG - that time the coronation capital of the Hungarian Empire - experienced its unparalleled glory in 1563. For the first time in its history it saw the coronation of a Hungarian king and queen. On September 8, the highest clerical notability put the St Stephan's royal crown on the head of Maximilian II, the son of Emperor Ferdinand I of Habsburg, in the decorated St Martin's Cathedral," historian Štefan Holčík writes of Bratislava (then Pressburg) in his book Korunovačné slávnosti (Coronation Ceremonies).

On the next day, the royal court celebrated the coronation of Maximilian's wife.

Those medieval times have now returned to Bratislava. Following last year's re-enactment of the coronation of King Maximilian II, visitors to the city these days can watch the coronation of his wife. The ceremonial act, accompanied by a tournament of knights, medieval musicians, and folk crafts will take place on September 4.


LONG live the king!
photo: Courtesy of the Bratislava Old Town council

Queen Mária (Mary) was the first of the eight queen-wives to be crowned during the city's 250-year acting as the coronation capital of the Hungarian Empire. Bratislava was announced the capital of Hungary by Ferdinand after the Turks conquered the traditional holy Hungarian coronation place - the Virgin Mary Church in Belgrade. Altogether 19 coronations took place in Bratislava's St Martin's Cathedral during that period.

In spite of the fact that the coronations of kings' wives were smaller and less grandiose than those of their husbands - rather symbolical - the organisers promise a larger and more resplendent celebration than that which accompanied the coronation of Mária's husband, Maximilian II, last year. Symbolical city gates with guards in period costumes will border the area in which 150 performers will re-enact the historical event with a rich accompanying programme directed by Pavol Smolík from the Slovak National Theatre.

The royal procession will begin at the Bratislava Castle and travel through Zámocká, Kapucínska, Michalská and Ventúrska Streets to the St Martin's Cathedral at 14:00 on September 4. Because the seating inside the church is limited to 250 occupants, the organisers will show the crowning act on a large screen erected on Hviezdoslavovo Square. After the crowing ceremony, the procession will follow the traditional royal path, marked by golden crowns embedded in the streets' cobblestones, which passes through Kapitulská, Prepoštská, Michalská, and Biela Streets, and through Františkánske Square to Hviezdoslavovo Square. Meanwhile, the parade will stop to feast in Radničné Square.


THIS YEAR, Maximilian's wife will get to try on the crown.
photo: Courtesy of the Bratislava Old Town council

The surrounding streets will offer a number of attractions performed in historical spirit. The newly crowned queen will open a tournament of knights on Hviezdoslavovo Square. Actors in period costumes will hold a performance and roast an ox on Františkánske Square. The market on Primaciálne Square will offer handmade products of skilled artisans. A knighting ceremony will be held at the Main Square, fanfare concerts will sound from the Town Hall's Tower, and wine will flow from the fountain on Ventúrska Street. Comedians, jugglers, fire eaters, and period musicians will entertain visitors on almost every corner of the city's historical core.

A week before the coronation ceremony takes place, various accompanying activities will try to bring to life the atmosphere of the royal past and lure visitors to the event. Last year's coronation of Maximilian II, which was organised to commemorate the 440th anniversary of coronation ceremonies in Bratislava, attracted 30,000 visitors. It was based on this success that the Bratislava Old Town government decided to begin a tradition of re-enacting the coronations of kings and queens that took place there from 1563 to 1835.

"This year's event will be larger and we expect twice as many visitors as last year," say the organisers, who also assured that there would be foreign promotion of the event in Prague and Vienna.

To get more information and buy tickets (Sk1,500) for the coronation act at the St Martin's Cathedral, visit the Bratislava Tourist Service at Zichy Palace on Ventúrska 9. Tel: 02/5464-1794 or 02/5464-1795.

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