Coronation celebrations in Bratislava (2016) June
Imagine being the organizer for really major event – the King of Hungary’s coronation. For years it had been held in Esztergom, Hungary.
But in 1563 when it was time to crown Maximilian as the new Hungarian king, Etzergom was under the control of Hungary’s bitter enemy, the Ottoman Turks. The solution – move the coronation to Bratislava, known then to Hungarians as Pozsony, for the up-coming “Red Carpet event.” Why Bratislava? Among other reasons, it was a safe haven. The city had a double fortification wall encircling it and a history of successfully warding off Turk invaders. The future king would be safe during the coronation, as would the nobles and clergy who came to crown the Hungarian king. Maximilian was so pleased he gave the people of Bratislava a beautiful, large fountain in Hlavné námestie that still spouts today.
The decision proved to be a very good one as the next ten Hungarian kings and eight royal consorts were crowned here. Among the most famous was Maria Theresa, crowned on June 25, 1741, who made Bratislava the center of her eastern kingdom during her 40-year reign. Among her many accomplishments, she secured Bratislava as the major European capitol it remains today.
The coronation ceremony is reenacted annually in late June. As had been the case since 1563, it is a time of great celebration. From St. Martin’s Cathedral, the newly crowned monarch parades through Bratislava. In current times the route of the procession changes annually. Historically, the monarch stopped at the Franciscan Church to dole out knighthoods in the “Order of the Spur” and behind the Michael’s Gate to reassure the people of Bratislava that their “royal privileges” will be maintained. Finally the procession usually arrived at Coronation Hill where the new Monarch waved his sword in all four directions of the compass promising to defend his kingdom.