St. Martins Cathedral stands on the ancient crossroads of the Old Town of Bratislava and the Castle District (formerly the Royal Quarter). Worship was held in a chapel at the Castle until 1221 when a new church was started here on what is believed to have been the site of a small chapel. By 1291 it was too small for the rapidly growing city and so a Gothic rebuild was started in 1311 which went on until 1452. Progress was slow because of lack of finance and the interruption of the Hussite Wars.
In 1452 a roof was added and the building was consecrated, although construction work continued well into the 16th Century.
In 1563 Maximilian II became the first Habsburg ruler of Austro-Hungary to be crowned in St. Martins Cathedral. In total 11 further coronations took place here between 1563 and 1830 including Maria Theresa (1741) and Ferdinand V (1830).
In 1760 the original Gothic tower was struck by lightning and was replaced by a Baroque one, which burnt down in 1835 and was replaced in 1847. During the mid-1800s the church suffered from a series of fires, wars and earthquakes all of which left it with its current appearance, a somewhat disappointing appearance for a Cathedral which played such a pivotal role in Central Europe for so long.
In more recent years the threat has come from the vibrations caused by the traffic on the Novy Most (or the Bridge of the Slovakian Nationalist Uprising, to give it its proper name) which almost goes directly over the top of the Cathedral. Work has begun to try to halt this damage and today the future of the Cathedral is looking brighter than for many years.
Photo - Andrew J. Müller
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