Read about the city

The Slovak capital of Bratislava is one of Central Europe's magnificent and at the same time very interesting cultural cities, and you can clearly sense a certain resemblance to other capitals and metropolitan cities of the historic Habsburg Empire, of which Bratislava was a central part for many years.

Beautiful squares and an old town with many atmospheric streets invite you to take wonderful walks between countless buildings from, for example, the Baroque era, and at the same time it is a good idea to enjoy the elegant and quite diverse architecture that characterizes the cityscape.

The Danube flows through the city, and the characteristic Bratislava Castle is located at the top above the river. More than a thousand years of great events have taken place here. A tour to the castle is a must, and besides the castle itself, you are rewarded with a nice view from up here; including a panorama of Bratislava's Old Town.

The scenery around Bratislava is beautiful and there are many destinations for a day out of town. A boat trip on the Danube is a relaxing way to see the area, and the Austrian capital of Vienna is not far away from the city. It can easily be done on a one-day trip. Other trips may go to Brno in the Czech Republic or Györ in Hungary.

Other attractions

Slovak National Theater, Bratislava

  • Slovak National Theater/Slovenské národné divadlo: The Slovak National Theater consists of an old and a new stage. The old theater building was built 1885-1886 in the Neo-Renaissance, while the new one is a modern construction.
  • Čumil: Čumil is the name of Bratislava's perhaps most famous work of art. The work is a figure of bronze, which has the head and some of the upper body up from a sewer hole, where the sewer cover is pulled aside.

Grassalkovich Palace, Bratislava

  • Grassalkovich Palace/Grasalkovičov palác: The elegant Grassalkovich Palace was built by Count Anton Grassalkovic around 1760 as a summer palace. Today, the palace is the residence of the Slovak president and it is one of Bratislava's finest buildings.
  • Roland Fountain/Rolandova Fontána: The Roland Fountain from 1572 is a popular meeting place for the city's citizens. The fountain was erected in 1572 by order of King Maximilian II, and the purpose was to bring clean drinking water to the inhabitants of the city.

Primate's Palace, Bratislava

  • Primate's Palace/Primaciálny palác: This beautiful palace was built in the years 1777-1781 by Archbishop József Batthyány. In 1805, representatives met right here to draft the agreement named Peace of Pressburg.
  • Old Market Hall/Stará tržnica: The Old Market Hall in Bratislava is a beautiful building that was opened in 1910 as a vibrant market. Today, there are cafés in the beautiful setting with construction made with riveted iron girders of the time.
  • Michalská ul.: The street Michalská ul. and the continuation Ventúrska belongs to the main street of Bratislava, and here you can see a number of fine palaces in baroque, rococo and neoclassical style, built by wealthy and noble families.

Michael's Gate, Bratislava

  • Michael's Gate/Michalská brána: This is the only surviving of Bratislava's original four city gates. The gate dates from the 14th century, but its current appearance is from a reconstruction made in the 18th century.
  • Episcopal Summer Palace/Letný arcibiskupský palác: This large building is the seat of the Slovak government. It was built in the 17th century as a summer palace for the archbishops of Bratislava.

St Elisabeth Church and Monastery, Bratislava

  • St Elisabeth Church and Monastery/Kostol a Kláštor Alžbetínok: St Elisabeth is a monastery church that was built in the Baroque style in the years 1739-1743 with its monastery buildings. In the interior of the church you can see frescoes by Paul Troger.
  • Slovak National Museum/Slovenské národné múzeum: This is the National Museum of Slovakia, where you can enjoy a range of themes and collections in different sciences and learn about several aspects of Slovakia.

Novy Most SNP, Bratislava

  • The New Bridge/Nový Most (Most SNP): The bridge Most SNP spans the Danube and connects Bratislava's old town with the Petržalka district to the south. The bridge was built 1967-1972 and there is an observation platform at the top of the tower on the bridge.
History overview

    Read about city history

    The city's prehistory
    Bratislava area has been inhabited for the last millennia and the area has been inhabited by cultures of Neolithic times from around the year 5000 BC However, in the region, remains of Neanderthals have been excavated and other skeletal parts that are significantly older have been found.

    In the early Iron Age, the primary settlement of the area was established in the center of present-day Bratislava, and from the 400s BC. Celtic tribes settled here. The Celts lived in an actual town, which among other things was fortified and had coinage. The Celts engaged in crafts in the city and farming around it. It lasted until the century BC when, due to migrating Germanic tribes, they moved to Devin.

    Roman border
    Around the age of 0-100, the Roman Empire colonized the area, which became a Roman border land with a garrison in Gerulata. The present Bratislava lay on the outside of the border, which passed by the Danube. Germanic tribes occupied the area to the north, while the Romans had dominion south of the river. In the present day, remains of the Roman Gerulata have been found under the suburb of Rusovce.

    The Romans did not own the present Bratislava itself, but they had significant activities in the area close by. The Romans thus built several military outposts, agriculture and trading stations.

    The first Slavs
    In the 400-500s, the Slavic tribes arrived in the region, and in the 600s the first Slavic state formation occurred during Samo. It happened in 623, when Samo was proclaimed king of the slaves, and this rule lasted to 658.

    In the 8th century, Bratislava's castle was the center of the Moorish kingdom. The castle played the leading military, religious and political role. The city of Bratislava was first mentioned in 907 in the Salzburg Annals, and later in the same century Bratislava became part of the Hungarian kingdom.

    1000-1200s and Hungary
    At the beginning of the 1000s, Bratislava was a significant city in the Hungarian Empire; its name was then Pozsony. The Hungarian kings came regularly to the city, where they had a residence on the castle, which had been expanded into one of the strongest fortified residences in the kingdom.

    However, the city was also the target of attacks by surrounding kingdoms and tribes. In 1030, the Czech caste Duke Břetislav I attacked during a campaign of the German emperor Konrad II's campaign against the Hungarians. Hungary, however, resisted the attack.

    In 1042, the German King Heinrich III attacked, and he succeeded in a brief takeover of the castle of Bratislava. Heinrich III attacked again in 1052, where his troops overcame the defenses of the castle and conquered it for a time. The following year, Pope Leo IX visited the city to mediate between the warring Germans and Hungarians.

    The city remained Hungarian, and after severe damage to the castle during the battles in 1052, Hungary's King Salamon had the castle reconstructed in the years 1073-1074. The era of Hungarian rule had stabilized, and it created the ground for new development.

    Throughout the 1100s and 1200s, there were several waves of Hungarian immigration, which settled not least in the market areas at the foot of Bratislava Castle. However, the majority of the city's citizens remained Slovakians. The centuries were at the same time where several attempts were made to conquer the city of Bratislava and thereby the city and the area.

    In 1241-1242, Mongols ravaged the area, but they failed to conquer the city's castle. However, their presence caused some devastation in the city. Some rebuilding had to be started, and the same year, in 1242, German settlements began in Bratislava. It was settlements and a kind of colonization that, with the centuries, ended with the Germans being the dominant ethnic population group in Bratislava.

    The end of the 13th century also became a period of fighting for Bratislava. They unfolded, among other things, between the Hungarian regents and the Austrian duke Albert, who had power in the city 1287-1291. Albert was overcome by Hungarian András III, who in 1291 granted the city the first known market town rights.

    Continuous strife for centuries
    The Hungarian era erected for a time with the death of András III in 1301, the king's widow granting the city to the Austrian Habsburgs who entered the city in 1301. However, the Austrian period lasted only a few decades, with Hungary again gaining the dominions in 1322; however, Bratislava first formally became part of the Hungarian kingdom from 1338.

    In 1405, Bratislava was declared a royal sanctuary, which was similar to many other Hungarian cities under King Sigismund. The new status was introduced by Sigismund to grant the city substantial rights, similar to feudal rulers, just to avoid increasing power to local feudal leaders.

    The mid-1400s meant constant fighting, but also new developments. Hussites ravaged several times, and in 1428 they burned several outer areas of the city. In 1434, the first bridge was established across the Danube, which significantly strengthened the logistics of the area, but the bridge was destroyed already the following year by floods from the Danube.

    The Hussites were negotiated with money out of Hungary in the years around 1440, but new battles arose between the lower town and the castle, which supported the Polish king Ladislaus III. In 1442 Ladislaus takes the castle, but German-Roman emperor Frederick III comes to the rescue of Hungary's Queen Elizabeth and overcomes the Polish king. In 1443, Elisabeta regains the city, but Ladislaus retains the castle until his death the following year.

    At the same time, cultural development
    14th century was a century of many battles over Bratislava, but it was also a period of significant cultural and economic boom.

    By 1405, the city had been granted sanctuary status, which granted some autonomy, and in 1430 it was granted the right to mint coins. Bratislava's coat of arms was introduced in 1436, and in 1465 the Universitas Istropolitana was established as the first university in the Slovak area.

    Increased Political Significance
    Hungary was defeated in 1526 by the advancing Turkish Ottomans in the Battle of Mohács, and the Turks advanced towards Bratislava. The Turks besieged the city, but they never managed to capture it. In 1532, Bratislava became the home of a large group of soldiers to defend the Turks so that they could not win the city and move on to Vienna. The Turks did not attack Bratislava, which was also the place, Hungarian treasures were kept so as not to accrue to either Turks and Habsburgs.

    With the Turkish presence, Bratislava significantly increased its political power. This happened when the Hungarian parliament decided to move the capital to it as a result of Turkish advances. The Parliament opened here in 1536, the same year as the first coronation in Bratislava took place; it was by Maximilian I in St. Martin's Cathedral.

    By 1526, Bratislava and Hungary had been subject to the Habsburg monarchy with its seat in Vienna. However, the Hungarian kings continued to be rulers in this part of the monarchy, and the court held for periods of time where the Hungarian kings and queens were also crowned in the years 1536-1830. A total of 11 kings and 8 queens were crowned here.

    Rebellion against the Habsburgs
    The 16th century was a period of various attempts at rebellion against the habsburgs. In 1606, the city was besieged by Stefan Bockey's armies, in the years 1619-1621 the city and castle were conquered by Gabriel Bethlen, which was a real revolt against the Habsburg supremacy. Imperial troops overcame Bethlen in 1621, which only for a time put a damper on political turbulence in the city.

    Bethlen again besieged Bratislava 1621-1622, which eventually resulted in the Peace in Pressburg, the city's German name. The peace was made in 1626 between Gabriel Bethlen and Emperor Ferdinand II, and it put an end to the rebellion.

    The beginning of the 17th century also became a time of various religious currents in the city. In 1606, a Lutheran high school was founded, and several other Protestant institutions also saw the light of day. As part of the Catholic Counter-Reformation, several monks and nuns were established, and in 1626, Bratislava's Archbishop invited the Jesuit order to the city.

    However, the rebellion against the Habsburgs was not over, and later in the century it came to the so-called Wesselényi conspiracy. Both it and Protestants were settled 1671-1677 through a series of lawsuits and judgments by those involved.

    The next revolt took place in the 1680s. The Imre Thököly rebellion took place in 1682-1683. Bratislava was the only city in the present Slovak area to oppose surrender to Imre Thököly's Hungarian troops, who conquered the city but not the castle in 1683. Later that year, the Habsburgs imperial troops regained Bratislava after their victory over the Turkish Ottomans who had continued maintained a presence in the region.

    18th-century urban development
    The plague epidemic ravaged Bratislava from 1710 to 1711, and 3,800 of the city's citizens perished, a large proportion of them. However, despite its decimated size, Bratislava had not been reduced to a city of no significance, and in 1741 one of history's most famous coronations took place here: that of Empress Maria Theresia.

    Developments generally went strong in the late 18th century. Culturally, Mozart played as a 6-year-old in the Palffy mansion in 1762 in the city center, and the population grew out of its former setting. In 1775, Bratislava's defense walls were demolished to allow the city to expand, and the following year the city's first theater opened.

    Industrialization began slowly in 1780 with the creation of the first manufacturing enterprise. It was in the textile industry and at that time the population was just under 30,000. In 1783, the first newspaper and first fiction book was published in Slovak, which was formalized as an independent language in 1787 by the theological student Bernolak.

    1783 was also the year in which Bratislava's status as the capital of the Hungarian Kingdom ceased, and it had a significant economic impact for the city. The crown jewels were moved to Vienna and much of the city's nobility and central administration moved to Budapest. With them, both economic and political influence disappeared, and Bratislava was then reduced to a ceremonial coronation city.

    Napoleon and Austria-Hungary
    In 1805, peace in Bratislava was concluded in the Archdiocese's Palace between Austria and Napoleon's France. This happened after the French victory at the Battle of Austerlitz, where Napoleon's armies won over Austrian and Russian forces. Four years later, Napoleon overcame Bratislava, and in the course of the war, the town's castle burned in 1811.

    After the end of the Napoleonic Wars, Bratislava was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and it was a century when industrialization and modernization took off. In 1830 regular steamship sailing was established on the Danube, which supported other economic development.

    From the 1840s political upheavals also occurred. Hungarian was introduced as the official language of the administration, and partial self-government lapsed; in 1847, the parliament of the time in Bratislava was opened for the last time. Incidentally, the last king was crowned in 1830, and this ritual also lapsed.

    Industrialization had brought the railway to the city in 1840, and as early as 1850, Bratislava was associated with both Vienna and Budapest. However, despite the construction of many factories and the extensive expansion of the city's facilities and infrastructure, Bratislava remained a relatively small provincial city compared to the two major neighboring towns. This was maintained throughout the last decades of the empire's life into the 20th century, when Bratislava at the end of the First World War had only about 83,000 inhabitants.

    Twentieth Century Changes
    At the end of the First World War, the Austro-Hungarian empire perished, and the Slovak National Council was formed. It was a time of wrestling, with the city's large German and Hungarian population seeking to declare the city a sanctuary to avoid becoming part of a new Czechoslovak country.

    However, on January 1, 1919, Czechoslovak forces occupied the city, now renamed Bratislava as part of its new Slavic identity. The city was also chosen as the Slovak administration seat in front of other cities such as Nitra.

    Changes were not yet over, as 1930's political tensions in Europe also extended to Slovakia and Bratislava. In 1938 the city became the capital of the autonomous Slovak government and from 1939 for the Slovak state supported by the German government.

    On September 27, 1940, Germany, Italy and Japan signed the Treaty of Three, which was a mutual aid and cooperation agreement between landers. Several other countries subsequently also signed; Among other things, the Slovak Republic on November 24, 1940.

    The Republic was led by President Jozef Tiso, and Slovakian units fought with Germany in certain places in the Soviet Union. The fighting came to Slovakia in 1944, when German troops entered the country, holding Jozef Tiso's rule in power in Bratislava until early April 1945. Victory Soviet soldiers could occupy the Slovak capital on April 4, 1945.

    After the war, Bratislava and Slovakia became part of Czechoslovakian communication style. During this period, the population increased from 125,000 in 1930 to 200,000 in 1946.

    The post-war era to the present
    In the years following World War II, the population changed as Germans expelled and Hungarians relocated. It was a time of development in many ways, and in the new communist state many cultural institutions were established; the Philharmonic, the National Gallery and the Academy of Sciences, among others. The reconstruction of Bratislava Castle was also initiated.

    Bratislava's formal boundaries were expanded, and the city expanded with newly built suburbs with contemporary and comfortable apartment complexes. This included the area south of the Danube. Some new neighborhoods such as Petržalka were built, and the number of citizens gradually increased to 450,000.

    The first major political change occurred in 1968, when a confederation agreement between the Czech Republic and Slovakia was signed in Bratislava. With the agreement, Bratislava became the capital of the Socialist Republic of Slovakia as part of Czechoslovakia.

    In November 1989, Bratislava became one of the centers of the so-called velvet revolution, which dissolved the then political system. Former Communist leader Alexander Dubček spoke in the city for the first time since 1970, and the revolution ended with a political shift and the establishment of independent Slovakia following a resolution on 17 July 1992.

    Following the split of Czechoslovakia in 1993, Bratislava became the capital of Slovakia, and 11 years later the city became one of the EU's capitals. The city has undergone rapid development since the 1990s, which is clearly seen in the cozy city, which was also home to a summit between Russia's Vladimir Putin and the US's George W. Bush in 2005.
    Skjul indhold her

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Bratislava, Slovakia

Top attractions

St Martin Cathedral, Bratislava

  • St Martin Cathedral/Dóm Sv. Martina: This is Bratislava's Gothic cathedral, built in the 14th and 15th centuries. It is located at the foot of the castle mound and has over time been the setting for many Austro-Hungarian coronations, one of the most famous being the coronation of Maria Theresa in 1741.
  • Main Square/Hlavné námestie: Hlavné námestie is the name of Bratislava's central square, which as a city hall square has always been the city's political center. The city hall is located here, and there are many other fine sights on and around the square.

Bratislava Castle

  • Bratislava Castle/Bratislavský hrad: Bratislava's impressive castle is located on a hill above the Danube River, and from its strategic location you can look out over the city and the area. The present castle dates mainly from the 15th century and belongs to the National Museum of Slovakia.
  • Old Town Hall & Bratislava City Museum/Stará radnica & Múzeum mesta Bratislavy: Bratislava's old town hall dates from the 14th century and is thus the oldest town hall in Slovakia. Today, the city museum is located here, and a visit here provides insight into both the town hall and Bratislava's history.

Blue Church, Bratislava

  • The Blue Church - St. Elisabeth Church/Modrý kostolík - Kostol svätej Alžbety: This is a small but very beautiful Hungarian Art Nouveau church from the years 1909-1913. The church was designed by Ödön Lechner and is richly decorated both outside and inside.
  • Slavín: Slavín is an impressive monument built in 1960 in memory of fallen Soviet soldiers in connection with the liberation of Bratislava during World War II. There are many parts in the monument; eg sculpture groups and a cemetery.
Trips in the area

Kamzik Tower, Slovakia

  • Kamzik TV Tower/Televízna veža na Kamzíku: This is a 194 meter/636 foot high TV tower, which was built in the years 1967-1975. The tower is located on the Kamzik hill. From the tower observation platform there is a very nice view.
  • The Ancient Gerulata Museum/Múzeum antickej Gerulaty: This is a museum consisting of the archeological excavation of the Roman garrison town of Gerulata. You can see excavated finds from the 100-300s and the area itself.

Devin Castle, Slovakia

  • Devin Castle/Hrad Devín: On the hilltop where the rivers Danube and Morava flow together, you can see the ruin of Devin Castle. The great castle has been like a ruin since battles during the Napoleonic Wars, and you can enjoy a nice view and information about the castle's history.
  • Pezinok: The town of Pezinok is located at the foot of the Little Carpathian Mountains and is a good starting point for trips in the area. In Pezinok's old town there are several exciting buildings to see; eg churches, the town hall and Pezinok Castle.

Gyor, Hungary

  • Győr: Győr is an important city in northwestern Hungary and an excellent excursion destination with a number of sights. The square Széchenyi is a great place to start with several palaces in baroque style, and you can also see St. Ignatius Church here.
  • Vienna/Wien: Vienna is the magnificent capital of Austria and is close to Bratislava. Here you can see countless interesting and world-famous sights. Some of the highlights are the imperial residence Hofburg, the castle Schönbrunn and the city's many churches.
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