The Swimmer Saviour

THE ARTIST Pinggera made a series of paintings of old Bratislava beginning in the 20th century, several of which were published also as period postcards. Pinggera managed to discover the magic of the city’s coves and recesses – which can be seen in this picture.

Bratislava Castle Bratislava Castle (Source: Courtesy of B. Chovan)

The painter must have stood close to today’s Šafárikovo Square. From there, he captured the two most dominant markers of Bratislava: St Martin’s Cathedral and the castle, the silhouette of which was then still marked by the devastating fire of 1811.

The look of the Bratislava Castle has changed several times in the course of the centuries. One of its oldest portraits dates back to the 14th century. It is a part of the Vienna pictorial chronicle and, apart from the castle’s appearance, it also captures an interesting event. In 1052, German Emperor Henrich III lay siege to the castle for whole eight weeks. Ships anchored on the Danube cannonading at the city defenders posed a huge danger. When the situation seemed already lost, one Bratislava fisherman came and offered to swim at night to enemy ships and bore holes in them. He managed to do so, thus the ships sank and the city was saved.

It is interesting to note that the men in charge of Bratislava defence had to search long for someone who could swim well. A good swimmer was probably a rarity then. 

By Branislav Chovan

Get daily Slovak news directly to your inbox

Theme: History talks

Read more articles by the topic

Top stories

News digest: Former state secretary describes the corruption at courts

Schools will definitely not open on Monday. Coronavirus vaccine could be available starting in mid-December. Slovakia joins campaign to fight violence against women.

The Presidential Palace lit in orange, to support the Orange the world! campaign.

Pass a Slovak language dictation so you can work with foreigners

The draft migration policy proposal is out. Where does a foreigner find the official, certified list of cultural realities and traditions they are supposed to respect?

Some problems with the Foreigners’ Police continue.

One in five women has experienced violence

The situation is far from satisfactory, said President Čaputová.

Secret votes and public lies

There are uncanny echoes today of Slovakia’s agonies over its choice of chief prosecutor ten years ago.

Dobroslav Trnka (left) and Jozef Čentéš (right), the candidate who was eventually selected by MPs in 2011, never got to take up the post because the then president, Ivan Gašparovič refused to appoint him for reasons that were never clearly explained.