All the main streets are pedestrian-only zones. The cobbled streets present continuous stretches of attractive, pastel-coloured facades, or on smaller streets, little stone houses. Note that a lot of the archways and gates you pass on the main streets lead to courtyards and a lot of them are quite beautiful, with fountains and gardens and the like. And during the summer, the old town streets are filled with sidewalk patios for cafes and restaurants.
Today's old town was once the entire town, and as such it was surrounded by walls and gates. The biggest section of wall that remains is next to Dóm sv. Martina (St. Martin's Cathedral). The only remaining gate is marked by the Michalská veža, or Michael's Tower, a white clock tower with a green Baroque steeple, topped by the figure of St. Michael the Archangel.
The attraction inside the old town walls is the Primalciálny palác (Primate’s Palace). It's the big, pale pink building with the fantastic neo-Classical facade and the rather odd-looking black hat floating above it. (It’s an iron sculpture of a Catholic cardinal’s hat because the building was commissioned by Cardinal Jozef Batthyányi in the late 18th century.)
Next to the palace is the stará radnica (old town hall) complex, a quirky mix of Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance styles. The town hall tower faces the city's main square (Hlavné námestie), historically the most important spot in the city and still the site of the traditional Christmas market. There are paving slabs and cobbles, a fountain and decorative column, and pastel-shaded palaces on all four sides.
The second main square in the old town is Hviezdoslavovo námestie, named after P. O. Hviezdoslav, a poet and defender of Slovak culture. A narrow water channel and bench-lined park separates the two thoroughfares, lined on one side by some of the city's best restaurants, and on the other by the US embassy. The main feature of this square is the impressive Slovak National Theatre building. The theatre itself, a wonderful Neo-Renaissance building displaying the busts of famous playwrights and composers above its first-floor balcony, casts an ornate shadow over evidence of Bratislava's unique modern dichotomy: the juggling of the treasures of the past with the mores of 21st century capitalism. So it is that a cherub-decked fountain sits alongside a McDonald’s fast food outlet, while the ancient reduta building houses the recitals of the Slovak Philharmonic and the roulette wheels of a casino. Meanwhile, the extravagant 19th century Inn at the Three Green Trees is now operated by the Radisson SAS group as the Hotel Carlton.