There are two types of museums. The world renowned museums showcase a multinational collection of priceless art or war plunder. I love to stroll thru the treasures of the Louvre, the British Museum, the Rijks. The second type of museum illuminates the past of the immediate city and region in a way which educates to the life and traditions of the area. These museums are a mirror to the evolution of local culture and beliefs. I’ve always preferred the former. But after living in Bratislava nearly a year, we decided to visit the Apponyi House and Viticulture Museum just off Old Town Square. In general, you don’t come to Bratislava to visit museums and we didn’t expect much. After all, this city was the pillaged not the pillager.
For 4 Euro a ticket including the audio guide, there’s little at risk. The museum is a microcosm of the life and times of Bratislava. The ground floor and Renaissance stone basement hold the Viticulture Museum which provides an overview of the history and role of wine in the region. The stone cellars are typical of many Bratislava area buildings and homes. Fall festivals dot the surrounding villages in celebration of the harvest. Wine is at the heart of most of these celebrations – an homage to the grape harvest and the first taste of young wine. The nearby village of Svaty Jur sleeps year round only to awaken during the annual wine cellar openings. The smallest of homes open to share their wine – likely produced from a backyard grape arbor which yield a few hundred bottles each year. Wine making is a tradition which spans centuries and generations – culminating in a weekend with family and friends turning the grapes into a years worth of wine, perhaps a parcel of Christmas gifts. Visiting the nicely preserved old wine cellar of the Viticulture Museum is a treat.
The above floors are the Apponyi House – a Rococo palace built for an 18th century Hungarian prince. The original furniture is gone, replaced with period pieces representative of the time. The walls are adorned with paintings and rich damask wall coverings . Each room contains the old fireplace – either the traditional wall fireplace or the more decorative freestanding corner enameled version. It is a home of opulence – a reminder of the wealth and position this town held within the Austro Hungarian empire. Overtime, it is a home which lost its luster and sold its furniture. Within the past 10 years, it is back as a revitalized museum. It’s a story of 250 years of evolution; wealth followed by neglect followed by reemergence. It is Bratislava.
During our tour, I realize museums aren’t only showcases for a nation’s treasures. Sometimes, a museum tells the story of a local place thru generations. The Apponyi House and Viticulture Museum will never replace the Louvre. But it is a worthwhile hour for those interested to glimpse an insight to the evolution of a town thru the centuries – a town which has seen the best and the worst of times and is returning with a lot of pride and a fresh coat of paint.
Categories: Insiders Bratislava