Kapitulská opens its courtyards

The street is one of the oldest thoroughfares in Bratislava.

Kapitulská Street has a unique story to tell.Kapitulská Street has a unique story to tell. (Source: Jana Liptáková)

Tourists, photographers and wedding couples alike love the sleepy, historical, atmosphere of Kapitulská Street in Bratislava near St Martin’s Cathedral in Bratislava’s historical centre. When wandering on its bumpy cobblestones they can let their minds imagine what life was like in Bratislava one or two hundred years ago.

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Two times per year, in the spring and autumn, they also have a chance to get a glimpse at its normally closed courtyards. The next such possibility will be on September 17, when Kapitulská will again host the event Kapitulská’s Courtyards. It is organised by the civic association Kapitulská Street Revival, in cooperation with the Bratislava Archdiocese and the Bratislava Tourist Information Centre (BKIS).

“The mission of our civic association is to keep the ‘genius loci’ and the uniqueness of the Kapitulská Street as a place of education, culture and relaxation,” architect Ľubomír Boháč, the founder of the Kapitulská Street Revival, who also lives on Kapitulská, told The Slovak Spectator.

During this year’s autumn event lasting from 10:00 to 18:00 the street will again come alive. Artists and craftsmen will sell their products in about 20 stalls on the street. Traditionally, the house of the Albrecht family will open to the public and in its courtyard as well as in the Baxa tower of the city walls there will be a whole-day programme. People will be able to have a look into the parish office of St Martin’s Cathedral, as well as into the courtyards of houses in which reside the Conference of Bishops of Slovakia and the Slovak Catholic Charity. Visitors will also be able to visit the city walls, where an exhibition about the former local Jewish community is installed, and see the restored Židovská (Jewish) Street.

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The history of Kapitulská Street

Kapitulská is one of the oldest streets of Bratislava. It dates back to the 13th century when a canonry along with the church, now St Martin’s Cathedral, relocated here from the Castle Hill. Most houses in the street still belong to the Church. There have never been any shops, cafés or pubs, but there used to be, for example, a scriptorium or school. Also today the theological college (Collegium Emericanum) resides there, as well as a seminary and theological faculty.

“The fact that Kapitulská has been a street of priesthood is a great fortune and a benefit, because thanks to this it has its peculiar character and unique story,” said Boháč. “There is no shop, no café or pub and in spite of this it is a magnet for domestic as well as foreign visitors, which pleases us, residents of Kapitulská, very much.”

The House of Albrecht

On the opposite side of the street from St Martin’s Cathedral resides the house of the famous Albrecht family, renowned musicians.

After the death of Ján Albrecht in 1996 and his wife Viera in 2003 the condition of the house began to deteriorate. Finally, in 2010, enthusiasts and those remembering how the house used to thrive with cultural life, launched the civic association Albrecht Forum for its revitalisation and transformation into a community centre of free arts. Part of the residence will house a museum of Alexander Albrecht and his son Ján.

They are now gradually restoring the house and the Kapitulská’s Courtyards event is always a good opportunity to see how the works have progressed.

“Visitors will have an opportunity to see restored painted walls in the former saloon of the Albrecht family on the first floor as well as the courtyard,” Igor Valentovič, the head of Albrecht Forum told The Slovak Spectator.

This time the rest of the house will be not accessible for safety reasons.

“We believe that during the spring Kapitulská’s Courtyards event in 2017 there will again be an opportunity to look into the whole house,” said Valentovič.

Currently they are working on a complete restoration of the exterior façade of the house.

“Visually, this will be one of the most visible steps forward in the process of restoration,” said Valentovič. “A lot of what we have done so far is hidden in walls, floors, under the earth, ceilings and so on.”

Last spring visitors were already able to see new windows, electrical wiring and plumbing. By this winter they plan to advance in the installation of heating on the ground and first floors.

Valentovič estimates the costs for restoring the premises and putting it into operation at €600,000, while currently they are somewhere in the middle. They raise money via grant schemes of the Culture Ministry or the Bratislava Self-governing Region, auctions of artworks donated by artists, benefit concerts or donations.

“When the works will be completed depends on the finances,” said Valentovič. “When people ask me when it finally will be completed, I usually answer with a sum of money. If we had it, we could put the house into operation within six or nine months.”

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