Cemetery tourism in Bratislava

The historical Cintorín pri Kozej Bráne cemetery. (Source: Jana Liptáková)

Historical cemeteries in Bratislava are worth visiting during the whole year as they now serve also as parks.

When visiting Paris, tourists often head to Père Lachaise cemetery or Cimetière de Montmartre to search for graves of famous writers, musicians or other personalities. In Bratislava tombstone tourists can also find such places even if the list of world-known persons buried here is somewhat shorter. But what they will find in Paris as well as in Bratislava is the tranquil atmosphere and a place to rest from the outer world. 

Historical cemeteries in Bratislava are worth visiting during the whole year as they now serve also as parks, but the tradition to visit graves of deceased relatives and light candles for them on the All Saints Day in November is a great experience. 

New burials in the most historic cemeteries ceased somewhere in the 1950s and now only in exceptions are new graves allowed. They are usually protected sites with many gravestones of exceptional artistic value and show that tombstones are also a part of fashion trends. German, Hungarian and Slovak inscriptions prove the multinational history of Bratislava. While they are still primarily the eternal resting place of the deceased they also offer a shelter from the rush of the city. 

​“The [historical] Ondrejský cemetery is probably the most interesting, because it is one of the oldest preserved cemeteries in Bratislava,” tourist guide Peter Malaschitz told The Slovak Spectator. “There are graves of real personalities.” 

Ondrejský Cemetery. (Source: Jana Liptáková)

The cemetery is located close to the Mlynské Nivy central bus station. It used to be bigger, but the nearby Karadžičova street was extended. Fortunately, plans during the communist regime to turn it into a park and link it to the nearby Medická garden, never materialised. Nevertheless, its flat terrain makes it a popular destination for mothers walking with prams. 

Actor Július Satinský, who was closely connected with the nearby Dunajská street, journalist Agneša Kalinová, conductor Alexander Albrecht and sculptor Alojz Rigele are buried there. The Ondrejský cemetery also holds the grave of Ignác Lamár, known as Schöner Náci and whose sculpture is now close to the Main Square, while a neo-Gothic tombstone marks the place where Carl Jetting, the so-called Bratislava Robinson, lays. 

Another historical cemetery, the Cintorín pri Kozej Bráne, is located on the way from the Bratislava’s castle back down the town. Its name in direct translation means the Cemetery at the Goat’s Gate. This Evangelical cemetery dates back to the late 18th century and spreads out on hilly terrain that gives it an exceptional atmosphere. Among the personalities buried here is composer Ján Levoslav Bella. 

The Catholic Mikulášsky cemetery on the opposite site of the Castle hill across River Park is little known. Hidden amongst grown trees and on a hilly terrain it is accessible from Žižkova street and is just next to the Jewish Orthodox cemetery. This part of Bratislava served for burying for centuries when first records about existence of this cemetery go back to the 13th century.  

Military cemeteries 

Bratislava did not skip bloody history of wars what is proved also by several military cemeteries. 

The most known one is the monumental Slavín peaking on a hill, on which almost 7,000 soldiers of the Soviet Red Army who fell while liberating Bratislava at the end of the World War II are buried. Its current look with the monument dates to the 1960s when its author was architect Ján Svetlík. Now it is a popular site offering a view over the city. 

Another place recalling WWII is the cemetery Vrakuňa, which was known as Ružinovský cemetery in the past. Even though it was launched only in 1972, it stands, apart from graves of Bratislavans, graves of 960 German soldiers, who fell in 1945 around Bratislava. The tumb stones are granite crosses as on other German military cemeteries. 

The Kopčany cemetery just outside Bratislava’s borough of Petržalka where soldiers of the World War I are buried, recently underwent a successful reconstruction. More than 330 soldiers buried here are from 10 nationalities.

When strolling among the graves it shows the illogicality of the war when more than 330 soldiers buried here were of 10 nationalities. The soldiers buried here died in a military hospital which used to stay here. The cemetery neighbours with another military monument, this time recalling the WWII – a two-storey cement bunker. It used to be part of the so-called Czechoslovak Maginot line built in the 1930s.  

Jewish cemeteries 

For Jews the cemetery is a place of exceptional importance and their beliefs ban moving the bones of the deceased. Thus Jews used to bury in levels, meaning when a cemetery was full, they covered it with a new layer of soil and continued burying on top. This is also one of reasons of why the Chatam Sofer Memorial, the most prominent Jewish cemetery in Bratislava, looks the way it does.

The Chatam Sofer Memorial (Source: Sme)

This old Jewish cemetery dating back to the 17th century used to stretch along the Danube River embankment. It became a victim of construction of the tunnel below the Castle Hill when only the most important part with 23 graves including that of prominent Rabbi Chatam Sofer was covered and preserved. This lasted more than 50 years until the place got a proper and honourable look in the form of the Chatam Sofer Memorial. Architect Martin Kvasnica adhered to strict requirements of the halakhah (Jewish law). 

The remaining graves moved to the nearby, still existing orthodox Jewish cemetery on Žižkova street from the mid 19th century. The cemetery is actually quite hidden when from the side of the street there is visible only its monumental supportive wall. The best possibility to see its real size is from the La Franconi Bridge. The cemetery itself looks smaller than it is when a large part of it is hidden in greenery. Writer Juraj Spitzer is among those buried there.

Close to the orthodox cemetery there is also neolog Jewish burial area. Among known personalities buried here are architects Eugen Bárkány and Artur Szalatnai-Slatinský, painter Imrich Weiner-Kráľ and film director Leopold Lahola. 

And a mass grave of Hungarian Jews buried at the Petržalka cemetery recalls the sad history of the concentration camp located in this Bratislava’s borough, part of Nazi Germany at that time. 

Architecture worth seeing

“There are a lot of tomb stones, epitaphs and family graves that are interesting also from the architectural point of view,” said Malaschitz. “Again also from this point of view the Ondrejský cemetery is interesting as there are Baroque, neo-Gothic or Rococo grave stones. Some graves are also decorated by busts by famous artists, thus some graves are piece of art themselves.” 

Apart from the Chatam Sofer Memorial, lovers of architecture should visit the crematorium and urn grove located between Bratislava and Záhorská Bystrica. Architect Ferdinand Milučký designed the white crematorium, built in the 1960s with great sensitivity towards the landscape when the main funeral hall offers a captivating view of the forest outside.

The ceremonial hall at the Jewish orthodox cemetery (Source: Jana Liptáková)

Another architectural jewel – and an example of interwar, purist, architecture in Slovakia – is at the Jewish Orthodox cemetery – the ceremonial hall from the 1920s designed by architects Fridrich Weinwurm and Ignác Vécsei. 

Cemeteries in Bratislava

All cemeteries except Jewish cemeteries are administered by Marianum company. They are open during summer months daily 7:00-20:00 and during winter months daily 7:00-17:00. Between November 1 and 8 when Slovaks mark the Day of All Saints cemeteries are open until 20:00. Jewish cemeteries are closed on Saturdays. 

Historical cemeteries:
Ondrejský cemetery
(Ondrejský cintorín), 29. Augusta street 7/2261
Cemetery Kozia Brána (Cintorín Kozia brána), Šulekova 1
Mikulášsky cemetery (Mikulášsky cintorín), Žižkova  30

Military cemetries:
Slavín
, Na Slavíne street, open year round
Kopčany military cemetery (Vojenský cintorín na Kopčanoch); Open: April 1 – November 7; 9:00-19:00
Vrakuňa cemetery (Cintorín Vrakuňa), Kaméliová 2

Jewish cemeteries:
The Chatam Sofer Memorial
, (Pamätník Chatama Sofera), Nábrežie arm. gen. Ludvíka Svobodu (opposite Riverpark), to arrange a visit call +421-948-554 442
Jewish orthodox cemetery, Žižkova 36; Sun-Thu; 8:00-16:00; Fri 8:00-12:00 except Jewish holidays
Jewish neolog cemetery, Žižkova 50; Sun-Thu; 8:00-16:00; Fri 8:00-12:00 except Jewish holidays
Petržalka cemetery (Cintorín Petržalka), Nábrežná 36

Some cemeteries still in use:
Crematorium and urn grove
(Krematórium a urnový háj), Hodonínska 44
Slávičie Údolie cemetery (Cintorín Slávičie údolie), Staré Grunty 47
Martinský cemetery (Martinský cintorín), Trnavská cesta 110
Ružinov cemetery (Cintorín Ružinov), Rebarborová 21

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Topic: Tourism and travel in Slovakia


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