Grassalkovich Palace – representative presidential residence

Every country attempt to place their presidential residence to the most representative and opulent building – Slovakia is not an exception. The noble rococo palace located closely to the historical city centre is more than appropriate for this purpose. A pleasant garden accessible to wide public helps its popularity. 

Anton Grassalkovich

Anton Grassalkovich was a powerful nobleman from the period of reign of Maria Theresa, who obtained extensive possessions on vast areas between Danube River and Tisa River. His possessions comprised the nowadays wider historical centre of Bratislava, which was at that time outside the city walls and narrow streets of historical centre. 

He was a member of Croatian dynasty Krasalkovich, who settled also at the area of present-day Slovakia in the 17th Century. Anton, born in 1694, was growing up in Slovakia, studying in Nitra and Trnava. After passing bar exams he worked at Royal Court, for diocese, or as a royal counsel. Step by step, Anton Grassalkovich gained more significant and more lucrative posts that earned him a title of baron and later a title of count.

Having such extensive possessions with only few people who could take care of it, Grassalkovich concluded contracts with serfs. This knowledge gained him an important status in the administration of Maria Theresa, as a chairman of Hungarian Chamber with one important assignment – to settle the most deserted areas. Thanks to his knowledge, the royal revenues increased, he brough new reforms, made the tolls collection and global trade more effective. No wonder he became Sovereigns favourite. Beside business and advocacy, Grassalkovich was active also in the field of architecture – he wasn´t designing buildings, however, but provided a financial support for their construction or reconstructions.  Aside from the Palace, he supported a reconstruction of Bratislava Castle, a church in Nitra, a castle, and a church in Komjatice, or at the Hungarian territory – in Gödöllő or in Hatvan. Mojmírovce, the village where Anton Grassalkovich was born, commemorates its famous native with historical parade or a wooden statue.

Presidential Residence

The construction of the palace connected with the vast garden was finished in 1760 according to the ideas of Anton Grassalkovich and architect F.A Hillebrand. This period can be described as a late baroque, or rather rococo, which still clung to the grandiosity and rich decorations. 

As a contrast to the gold-plated stucco decoration in the Grand Hall stands the Chape of St. Barbara with the rococo and classicistic frescos.  The Grand Hall, the impressive courtyard and the stairway with sculptural decorations were intended to impress the guests arriving at the summer balls. Even Maria Theresa and Joseph Haydn visited the palace, such great was its popularity. In the turbulent 20th Century was the usage of the palace area changing - during the World War One it served as the headquarters for the military command whilst during the Second World War it was used as the residence of the president of Slovak State. 

After the communist coup was the palace used by Pioneers until 1996, when an extensive reconstruction took place and President of Slovak Republic returned to this place. 

Bigger or smaller reconstruction works are still necessary, last one in 2019 on the façade of the building. 

The garden in French style provides a pleasant place for a rest as for the everyone. Even though you are not invited to the audience with the president, you can still glance into the palace interiors during the Open Day of the Grassalkovich Palace.