Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and located where the Carpathians and Alps meet on the Danube. The city has 432,864 residents (2019). With suburbs, Bratislava has 563,682 residents (2019).
Business and transport
In Bratislava there are chemical, electrical, food and other industries, including the large Slovnaft refinery (petroleum). Tourism is also of great importance. The city has rich sports and recreational opportunities, including many artificial lakes. In the area around the city there is also a considerable grape cultivation and wine production, especially of white wines. The city is a railway hub and has an international airport and an important port on the Danube.
Culture and education
Bratislava is Slovakia’s cultural center with several theaters, a large opera and ballet scene, symphony and chamber orchestras, a national gallery, many museums and research centers. The city hosts international music, theater and film festivals, art biennials and more. Bratislava is the country’s largest university, founded in 1919. The Technical College, the School of Music and Commerce, the Academy of Arts, Music and Theater is also located in Bratislava. The city has both a Roman Catholic Archdiocese and Lutheran Diocese.
The cityscape is dominated by the now well-restored Renaissance castle on a hill near the city center. On the western outskirts, across the confluence of the Danube and Morava rivers, are the ruins of Gothic Devín Castle. Other points of interest include the Gothic St. Martin’s Cathedral from the 13th century, where the Hungarian kings were crowned in the period when Budapest was under Turkish rule, the Old Town Hall’s Renaissance building, several Baroque churches and palaces, the classicist Primas Palace, some secession – buildings and more.
Bratislava is located at an important strategic point, the place has been inhabited for thousands of years and was fortified by the Romans, among others. It gained city rights in 1291. The town was trilingual (German, Slovak, Hungarian) from the High Middle Ages (possibly earlier) to World War II. Until 1918 the German element was the strongest, followed by a large influx of Slovak countryside and the city was fairly quickly Slovakized. Today, the Slovak population constitutes a clear majority, but there are also Hungarians, Germans, Gypsies, Croats, Czechs and Jews among the population.
From 1536 to 1784 Bratislava was Hungary’s capital and until 1848 was the seat of the Hungarian Parliament. At the end of the 18th century and in the first half of the 19th century, the city was the center of Slovak national awakening. It was not until New Year’s Eve 1918 that the Czechoslovak forces arrived in the city, which from 1919 became the Slovak capital in Czechoslovakia. During the period 1939-1945, Bratislava was the capital of a nominally independent Slovak Republic. When Czechoslovakia was transformed into a federation from January 1, 1969, Bratislava became the capital of the Slovak state. On January 1, 1993, the city became the capital of the independent Slovak Republic and seat of the country’s president, parliament and government.
In January 1914, Bratislava became associated with Vienna by tram / suburban railway south of the Danube. This path was destroyed at the end of World War II. During the Cold War, Bratislava and Vienna were connected by rail across Marchegg north of the Danube. The new and faster main link south of the Danube, over Petrzalka and Kittsee, was opened in the 2000s. Following Slovakia’s independence in 1993, major investments were made in motorway connections in Slovakia. However, the highway south towards Budapest did not come into place until after the turn of the millennium. Only in November 2007 did it become possible to drive the 60-kilometer highway between Bratislava and Vienna.