Bratislava sits at the crossroads of bike trails which travel for days across Europe or hours over the nearby border to Austria. They hug the Danube thru Hungary to Budapest or cut south to circle the Neusiedlersee. In short, it’s a bikers paradise for all length trips from a few hours to a few days or weeks and beyond.
One of our favorite short trips from Bratislava is to pedal over the Stary Most (Old Bridge) from Old Town, cut south thru Petrzalka and head towards the fields of Austria. Just before entering Austria at Kittsee is the isolated and off the beaten path Vojenske Museum and Cemetery. It is the final resting place for soldiers killed near Bratislava during World War 1 and a preserved Slovak bunker reminiscent of the previously tightly controlled border.
Be it not for the simple “Cintorin” sign just before entering Austria, we’d have never discovered this little spot. Friends of mine, who live in Petrazalka, have never heard of it. But it’s become our favorite Sunday morning ride. The bike trails in Petrazalka are popular – swarming with roller bladers and bikers during the weekend. This trail needs to be tackled fairly early (certainly before noon) on the weekends or saved for a weekday trip.
The cemetery sits at the end of a dirt path which turns off the paved road just before it enters Austria. Farm vehicles and our bikes share the roads. I’ve not seen a car. One day we bought strawberries from a road side truck stand. Past the acres of fields you glimpse the white wind turbines prevalent in eastern Austria. Thirty minutes are enough time to stroll the grounds, read the markers, and relax in the solitude. Walk around towards the bunker to see the replica of the barbed wire fence which surrounded the border with Austria.
The permanent custodian maintains this sanctuary perfectly. Rows of unadorned white crosses line up on the manicured grass under a copse of hardwood trees. A stone path weaves around the perimeter or thru the interior where a single much larger white cross stands. The cemetery is small and has a park like feeling. In the distance, the hills of Bratislava city and castle are visible beyond the fields of corn and sunflowers – and a bit further down the skyline to the left is perched Devin Castle. One Sunday morning there was a Catholic mass for a group of 15 or so bikers. It’s a perfect reflective location.
After visiting the cemetery, we return the way we entered and follow the road on into Kittsee. The town is small, charming, and neat as a pin (as are all Austria villages). It is not a substitute for other nearby towns, such as Hainburg with its walled city and hilltop castle. But it is convenient and has a handful of restaurants/pubs and cafes. It adds a bit to what would otherwise be a very short bike ride to the cemetery and provides for a refreshing stop.
April 1 – November 7:
Monday – Friday: 2 – 9 PM
Saturday/Sunday: 10 AM – 9 PM
Monday – Friday: 2 – 5 PM
Saturday/Sunday: 1 – 5 PM
Bicycle Rentals:Bratislava has two rental possibilities in Old Town:
1. http://www.bratislavasightseeing.com/14/bike-rental This location is on the Danube (old town side) between the boat docks and the Stary Most (Old Bridge). If you walk the river path in this area – you’ll see it. It is only here during the summer (after June 1).
2. http://www.bikebratislava.sk/index.html : This is a pre-arranged service where you can pick up or they will deliver to your hotel. They are just above Old Town heading towards Palisady. Get very good directions and take your contact information as they are hard to find.
Getting to the cemetery: Cross the Stary Most bridge heading from the Old Town side of the river towards Petrazalka and turn right onto the very first road (it wraps around the far side of the restaurant which sits at the end of the bridge, “Mytny Domcek”. If you are hungary, this is a great, reasonable, typical Slovak restaurant!). The bike path forms on the right side of the road and is visible as a red lane. Follow the path to the Novy Most (New Bridge) and take a very immediate left just past the bridge. Follow the path to the highway shortly taking the ramp up and over the highway. On the far side of the bridge, an elevator drops you to the road below. Turn left out the elevator door. A very quick right and left gets you on the bike path again.
The path ends at a busy street – go largely straight and past the Petrazalka Train Station (on your left). Follow this road out-of-town. In a few miles you will come to a covered wooden picnic table on the right. An EU sign is straight ahead marking the entrance to Austria. A small “cintorin” sign marks the turn to the right (it is the dirt bike path not the bigger paved road). Follow this about a mile to the cemetery.
On the way back, turn into Austria. The street leads into Kittsee. When the road ends, turn right and right again. You can get a coffee and cake very quickly on the right side of the street.
Categories: Insiders Bratislava