As the capital of Slovakia, Bratislava has a photogenic jumble of architectural styles that is testament to the city’s ancient history. By the year 907 AD, there was already a castle on Old Town’s central hill, and the atmospheric ruins of Devín Castle also date from around the time of the Moravian Empire in the early 10th century. In the Starý Mesto (Old Town) itself, the historic heart of this compact city reveals Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque palaces, churches and defense towers scattered around airy piazzas and narrow lanes lined with Baroque townhouses in pastel rainbow shades.
But time has not stood still in Bratislava; brash, modern shopping malls such as Eurovea are springing up in the workaday city outskirts, as are stylish restaurants and bars in their scores along the Danube waterfront. In the residential suburb of Petržalka, Soviet apartment blocks stand in rows as evidence of the post-World War II Soviet occupation of the country, which only ended with the Velvet Revolution of 1989. Linking old Bratislava with the new across the Danube is the sleek Nový Most (New Bridge), one of the Communist era’s few architectural successes; atop the bridge’s single pylon is the circular UFO Observation Deck, guaranteed to provide panoramic views of the red roofs of the Starý Mesto and out across the city suburbs.