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Bratislava for All draws big crowds

BRATISLAVA pre všetkých (Bratislava for All), already in its 9th year, has become an annual tradition in the Slovak capital. Over 100,000 visitors took part in this year’s events, which included several new venues. The goal of the weekend activities was to encourage residents and visitors to explore places and areas of interest around the city.

BRATISLAVA pre všetkých (Bratislava for All), already in its 9th year, has become an annual tradition in the Slovak capital. Over 100,000 visitors took part in this year’s events, which included several new venues. The goal of the weekend activities was to encourage residents and visitors to explore places and areas of interest around the city.

On the weekend of April 19-22 a number of popular sites, including the zoo, the botanical garden, as well as several museums were available without admission fees. Other venues offered special programmes or opened doors especially for this event. Turnout was excellent, with many sites experiencing long queues. The offer of free sailing aboard the Martin boat on the Danube River was one of the most popular draws with large crowds. The first day also began with a second-hand book exchange.

On April 20 the Bratislava City Gallery sponsored two events: the opening of an exhibition entitled The Martyrs’ Legends; and the launch of the publication of a book presenting the drawings and paintings of Koloman Sokol (see story above).

A special programme on Sunday featured a presentation in the City Museum of the Old Town Hall by Thomas Frankl, son of the Bratislava-born painter Adolf Frankl whose work was on display. Frankl recounted his childhood memories and accompanied his talk with photos.

Milan Ftáčnik, the mayor of Bratislava, opened his offices in the historic Primatial Palace. Visitors were also allowed to have a look at the mayor’s study and other areas not normally accessible to the public. An exhibition of the work of contemporary artist Stanislav Harangozó was also on display and the City Theatre of P. O. Hviezdoslav hosted another special programme at the theatre.

Though it is currently undergoing reconstruction the Apponyi Palace was partially opened to the public. An exposition of winemaking was offered in the cellars of the palace, including wine tasting at the very reasonable rate of €1 per glass. Other sites which opened for the weekend included the Pisztory Palace in Štefánikova Street and the excavated remains of Kaplnka sv. Jakuba (St Jacob’s Chapel) on SNP Square.

A tour and lecture at the archaeological site in front of Stará tržnica (Old Market Hall) proved to be one of the most popular programmes of the weekend. This small, glassed-off excavation marks the ruins of St Jacob’s Chapel and is not normally open to the public. Because the guided tour was open to only a few people at a time, the wait in the queue was quite long.

Branislav Resutík of the City Monument Board explained that the archaeological site is only partly finished. Discovered during the reconstruction of the market building in the 1990s, the presence of the chapel indicates that there had been structures outside the old city walls for centuries. The origin of the chapel goes back to a Romanesque rotunda in the 12th century but it could be even older. Because of a lack of funding, the archaeological research has been halted, with some layers unexplored.

The ruins exist because after the Battle of Mohács in Hungary in 1526, Bratislava’s leaders feared the advancing Ottoman army would level all stone buildings outside the city walls so these were destroyed in advance. The buildings demolished included this chapel as well as St Michael’s church which once stood near St Michael’s tower.

Today, nothing remains except the chapel's ossuary and a few underground walls. But it is fascinating to think that modern-day shoppers and unknowing tourists hurry past, unaware that they are passing a site of immense archaeological significance.

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