Bratislava Castle (Slovak: Bratislavský hrad (help·info), German: Pressburger Schloss, Hungarian: Pozsonyi Vár) is the main castle of Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. The massive rectangular building with four corner towers stands on a quite isolated rocky hill of the Little Carpathians directly above the Danube river in the middle of Bratislava. It is an outstanding feature of the city. It provides an excellent view of Bratislava, of Austria and, when there is good weather, of Hungary. Many legends are connected with the history of the castle.
he castle building includes 4 towers (one on each corner) and a courtyard with an 80 m deep water well. The biggest tower is the Crown Tower in the south-east from the 13th century, which housed the crown jewels (see History). The outside walls and inside corridors contain fragments of old Gothic and Renaissance construction elements. To the east of the main entrance, one can see the walled up entrance gate from the 16th century. Behind the entrance, there is an arcade corridor and then the big Baroque staircase, which leads to the expositions of the Slovak National Museum. The left part of the southern part of the building houses the 4 halls of the Treasure Chamber (opened in 1988) with a collection of the most precious archaeological findings and other objects found in Slovakia, including the prehistoric statute called the Venus of Moravany. The 3rd floor houses the exposition History of Slovakia. The 1st floor in the southern part of the building houses the rooms of Slovak parliament — the National Council of the Slovak Republic - including parts of furniture from the 16th century. The northern part of the building- the former Baroque chapel, houses the Music Hall in which concerts are held. The courtyard includes the entrance to the Knights Hall.
To the west of the castle building (see the picture), there is the newly reconstructed Hillebrandt building built in 1762 and destroyed by the 1811 fire (see History). The Yard of Honor is the space directly before the castle entrance. It was created in the late 18th century. Behind the Sigismund Gate and in front of the castle building, there is the Leopold Yard from the 17th century with bastions. To the east of the castle building the constellation of the Great Moravian basilica (9th century), the Church of St Savior (11th century) and other Early medieval objects is indicated on the ground. The true archaeological findings are directly below this indicated constellation. To the north-east of the castle building, next to the Nicholas Gate, there is the Lugiland Bastion (which was a Gothic entrance gate in the 15th century), a long building from the 17th century (today a building of National Council of the Slovak Republic), and a Baroque stable (today a famous restaurant). An English park is located to the south of the stable. The whole northern border of the castle site is formed by a long Baroque building from the 18th century, which today houses the Slovak National Museum and the castle administration.
The castle, like today's city, has been inhabited for thousands of years, because it is strategically located in the center of Europe at a passage between the Carpathians and the Alps, at a very important ford used to cross the Danube river, and at an important crossing of central European ancient (trade) routes running from the Balkans or the Adriatic Sea to the Rhine river or the Baltic Sea, the most important route being the Amber Route. The people of the Boleráz culture (the oldest phase of the Baden culture) were the first known culture to have constructed settlements on the castle hill. This happened around 3500 BC (i.e. in the high Eneolithic Period). Their "castle" was a fortified settlement and a kind of acropolis for settlements in today's Old Town of Bratislava. Further major findings from the castle hill are from the Hallstatt Period (Early Iron Age, 750 – 450 BC). At that time the people of the Kalenderberg Culture built a building plunged into the rock of the castle hill. Again, the "castle" served as an acropolis for settlements found in the western part of the Old Town.