Future of Bratislava Castle excavations still unclear

SOME 12 hours of discussion on March 17 failed to resolve the future of excavation and construction plans around Bratislava Castle.

(Source: TASR)

Though an expert commission agreed it is important to protect the site and ban construction equipment from the area, what will happen to the Celtic architecture found on the site as work on a planned parking garage got under way is still unclear. Parliament, which initiated the construction of the garages, says a final decision will be made after further talks.

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Experts consider the archaeological site on the northern terrace of Bratislava Castle to be of high quality, and they called for better protection via fencing around the area. They also agreed that the excavations should be exhibited on the site where they were found. The commission subsequently recommended to accelerate renovating the findings under the castle courtyard and the northern terrace, the SITA newswire reported.

“These negotiations were certainly not easy,” said Daniel Guspan, head of the Parliamentary Office, as quoted by the TASR newswire, “there are different opinions among laymen and also experts about the exhibition of the excavations, the construction objects or the archaeological solutions of some parts of the reconstruction of Bratislava Castle.”

The commission, however, did not agree on what to do with the planned underground garages, SITA wrote.

It is necessary to complete the underground construction at the castle, Speaker of Parliament Peter Pellegrini said. Only time and mutual agreement will show whether there will be garages or something else, he added.

“It may have multifunctional use,” Pellegrini said, as quoted by TASR, adding that in case of need it may be used for parking, and otherwise for other purposes.

He also said that the parliament will accept some of the experts’ recommendations, like adopting measures for better protection of the findings and their exhibition. However, he considers the proposal to halt construction at the castle to be unjustified, TASR wrote.

The activists from SOS Bratislavský Hrad civic initiative welcomed the outcomes of the commission.

“It is important that the artefacts on the working site will be protected,” said Monika Kozelová of SOS Bratislavský Hrad, as quoted by TASR.

What next?

While there was no problem with preserving two of the excavated objects, there is still discussion over a third located under the winter riding school, a replica of an 18th century building which parliament wanted to use for public events.

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According to the latest plans, excavation was set to continue under the ballroom’s stage. During the day it will be open to visitors, while in the evening it will be used for various events, the Denník N daily wrote.

SOS Bratislavský Hrad has made its own proposals, including turning the building into a concert hall and ballroom, or into part of the Slovak National Museum or the Slovak National Gallery. Another possibility is to create a new museum there.

This idea was also welcomed by Austrian archaeologist Heinrich Zabehlicky who, as the first foreign expert, confirmed in the past that it was Roman architects who built the constructions at Bratislava Castle for the Celts, Denník N wrote.

“The modern museum would not be much different from the plans for the Baroque riding school,” Zabehlicky told the daily.

Zabehlicky visited the castle together with two other foreign archaeologists, Bojan Djurić (Slovenia) and Balász Komoróczy (Czech Republic). Though they agreed that the archaeological research met all standards and that the protection is appropriate, Zabehlicky told Denník N that he does not know any similar site abroad near which underground garages were built.

One of the reasons parliament opposed any changes is that it would force delays, and the riding hall and garages are set for use starting next July when Slovakia’s presidency over the European Council begins, Denník N wrote.

“As an architect with 25-year experience I estimate that the architectural change of the project should not take more than two months if the investor knows what they want,” Ľubomír Boháč, deputy mayor of Bratislava’s Old Town district, who is also responsible for the building authority, told Denník N.

According to him, the garages should not be situated on the site, regardless of what is found there and how it is protected.

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