Monday, May 31, 2010

Day 7- Bratislava

Today we took a boat tour to Devin to see an even more impressive castle. Some of us also visited Saint Martin's Cathedral.

The professors have arranged for us to travel to the small town of Devin. Located only about 10 km from Bratislava, Devin is famous for its castle as well. We left from the hotel to take a boat up the Danube. The trip itself really showcased the awesome power of this mighty river. The 10 km trip took 90 minutes upstream, but only 30 minutes when travelling downstream. When travelling by boat, as you round the bend you are greeted by a lookout tower that serves a branch of the castle. This does not properly prepare a person for the grand scale the castle employs.

The construction of the castle proper began in the tenth century also. However, within the castle walls Roman ruins can be found, as well as a small chapel and cemetery dating from the ninth century.
The castle has been added to and expanded throughout the years. One of the exciting places to visit was the ammunition store. The store is a large stone-walled pit that would have held the many various stores for artillery throughout the years employed to defend the castle. There is also a deep well that served to provide as the fresh water supply for those living within the walls. There is now fresh water piped into the facility, which we used to test the depth of the well. When the bucket of water is let go, there is no sound for almost a full six seconds. Then the Wham! of reverberation comes shooting out of the well from the focused sound waves. We had Samson to thank for discovering this quality of the well. The keep itself within the castle was finished sometime in the 16th or 17th century.

Upon returning to the city, several of the group visited the town's Cathedral. Named for Saint Martin (I didn't document his reason for sainthood, sorry), a cathedral has stood at this site since the 15th century. The Cathedral was the site of 11 coronations of kings and queens of the Hungarian empire. Because of this, there is an impressive treasury of relics used in the church. There is also a crypt which houses quite a few of Bratislava's elite. This includes the bodies of three Catholic archbishops and a cardinal, all who served at the Cathedral. The last person to be buried in the church was in 1895. There is also a catacomb that can be viewed, but not entered, dating to the 11th century.

For dinner that night, all the students returned for a second, third, or fourth visit to the Slovak Pub. Some of the meals include: dinner for student on pay day, dinner for broke student, dinner for student trying to impress girlfriend. There is also a farmer's risotto, shepherd's bag, pierogis, and delicious soups. The best part about the pub is its prices. We sat at a table in the shape of Saint Stephen's cross. The cross was the emblem Hungary's most famous king. How fitting that as our time in Former Hungarian controlled Europe, we should dine at such a table.