St Michael’s Gate is an iconic baroque tower in old town Bratislava and is a prominent feature on the cities skyline. The tower is home to the Museum of Arms which houses weaponry artefacts & historical exhibits on the city’s defences.
St Michaels Gate
In the medieval times, Bratislava was surrounded by fortifications in the form of high walls, getting in and out was only possible through one of the four heavily fortified gates. The construction of the city walls began in the 13th century, by the end of the 14th century the city already had a fortification with three gates including St Michael’s Gate.
The best-preserved area from this era is the part around Michalská Gate, including the important monument of the medieval fortifications Michael’s Tower. the tower was named after a church that stood in the suburbs near the gate. During the Baroque renovation in 1758, the tower built given its current form with a copper statue of the Archangel Michael with a dragon tip.
Museum of Arms
The museum of medieval fortification of Bratislava and arms calls Michael’s Tower home. The Museum has exhibits, all about the town’s original fortifications, the various reconstructions and their final destruction in the 18th century. The fortified walls were preventing the city’s growth and were mainly taken down sadly.
Weapons are prominently displayed in the museum, including swords, axes and even a cannon.
A cutlass is a weapon with a straight or slightly curved single-sided blade. They were considered lower-class weapons in the era. The museum has many different designs that were used by soldiers of the city.
Palaches or broadswords have been used since the 17th century. A broadsword is a sword with a straight, wide single edge blade. In the 18th century, these were the weapon of choice of the cavalry and were very common.
Guns & Rifles
There are a few displays of the historical guns, pistols and rifles used to defend the city. This is an interesting display and highlights the evolution of guns used in the region.
To keep the peace in the city and to strengthen the defence against the Turks, the Riflemen of Bratislava Club was established in 1543, they were given the role of watching over the shooting training. At the end of the 16th Century, a company of huntsmen, who also were guards of the city was formed. The group had their own shooting range for practice, this was located in the dyke near to St Michael’s Gate. The range moved a few times and called the Vyridica and Engerau gates home too.
The museum features a history of metal armour used by soldiers and the cavalry used to protect themselves. This includes examples of shields used for close-quarters combat as well as repelling arrows.
A variety of styles of helmets and other protective headwear were on display, mostly made of metal, unlike modern kevlar which was lots heavier.
Some of the traditional uniforms worn by soldiers and officers are exhibited here. Some are plain and others quite colourful and stylish adorned with medals and other ceremonial features.
Located on the top floor of the tower is a balcony that has fantastic views of the Old City, the Castle, and further afield. This is a great vantage point to appreciate the beauty of the city as well as getting your bearings.
The balcony gifts visitors with a 360-degree view of the cities skyline and is pretty special. This is accessible from a door at the top floor of the museum, the balcony has good sturdy rails and felt safe walking around.
The tower looks stunning from the outside and is certaily a prominent feature of the city. the museum is very informative and if you have low interest in things military the view is worth visiting for.
The museum is set over 5 or 6 floors and is a mission to climb so not ideal for those with mobility issues to climb.