Did you know that the oldest public park in central Europe is in Bratislava? You find it just across the Danube river in the neighborhood of Petržalka. Sad Janka Kráľa or Janko Kráľ Park has its origins since long before the Slovak Republic became an independent nation. The park was established as early as 1774-76. It has since undergone many changes. The shape of today’s park has remained the same since 1839.
It is a popular place for meeting friends, having a picnic, or taking wedding photos. Nearby you find one of the oldest theaters in the city, the Arena Theater, as well as a more modern establishment, the shopping mall Aupark.
All around the park you will find circular spaces, with a stone bench stretching around them. In the middle of these, there is a stone sculpture with symbols from the zodiac elements.
The garden gazebo or Gothic tower is the most prominent structure in Sad Janka Kráľa. This gazebo was once the tower of the Franciscan Church in the Old Town of Bratislava. An earthquake damaged the upper part of the tower in 1897. The tower then moved to its new spot.
Today it is evident that the park has seen better days. The walking paths are uneven, graffiti covers the benches and the traffic of the nearby highway is constantly noisy. However, the park is still an oasis of green in an area of the city that is otherwise filled with concrete blocks.
And now you might ask yourself – who was this guy who had the oldest public park in central Europe named after him? Romantic poet and national activist Janko Kráľ was a contemporary of Ľudovít Štúr, the leader of Slovak national revival in the 19th century. Štúr codified the modern Slovak language standard in 1843, Kráľ was one of the first writers to use it. Read more about Janko Kráľ (in Slovak) here >>
Sad Janka Kráľa: How to Find It?
Sad Janka Kráľa is a short distance from the southern banks of the Danube river. It stretches between the bridges Most SNP and Starý Most. The easiest way to find the park is to walk across the Danube at the Most SNP – the UFO Bridge. Once you reach the other side of the river, you find the park directly on your left.