Monday, January 11, 2010

Primaciálny palác

So when Martin suggested that we go see the Primate's Palace I was wondering if it had something to do with monkeys. I wasn't thinking of the ecclesiastical definition of "primate" that means archbishop. It's hard enough trying to understand Czech (or Slovak), but it's a real shame when I can't even understand English.
The Primate's Palace was built from 1778 - 1781 and is in the center of Bratislava's Old Town. The neo-Classical palace was built for Archbishop József Batthyány.

On the east side is the Hall of Mirrors which was modeled after Versailles and has some historical significance. Here is where Napoleon and Francis I signed the Treaty of Pressburg (Bratislava’s former name) in 1805, after the Battle of Austerlitz where 50,000 Russian, French and Austrian troops were killed. In 1848, in the University Library, there was a congress where serfdom was abolished in Hungary. People can even rent the hall for weddings. However, they are very strict on zero photography. Maybe there is an exemption for weddings?
Other interesting features are the courtyard fountain & statue of St. George and the 18th-century St. Ladislaus chapel.
There is not much furniture in the palace but throughout are large oil paintings of Hapsburg royalty and huge crystal chandeliers.

But here's the coolest thing...In 1903, the city purchased the building and began renovating it. Hidden in the walls were six 17th-century English tapestries depicting the Greek story of Hero and Leandros. They were made in the 1630s of silk and wool. It is assumed that the tapestries were hidden away to prevent Napoleon from taking them back to France. There are three sets of tapestries in the world illustrating this legend, but Bratislava has the only complete set.

Hero and Leandros were young lovers who lived on opposite sides of the Hellespont. Hero lit a lamp in her tower to guide Leandros on his nightly swim to her. One night, a storm caused the lamp to burn out and Leandros was not able to find the shore and drowned. When Hero found out of Leandros' death, she threw herself from her tower in grief and died as well.

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