Bratislava formerly Slovak Prešporok; German: Pressburg or Preßburg; Latin: Posonium; Hungarian: Pozsony) is the capital of Slovakia and, with a population of about 500,000, the country's largest city. Bratislava is in southwestern Slovakia, occupying both banks of the River Danube and the left bank of the River Morava. Bordering Austria and Hungary, it is the only national capital that borders two independent countries.
Bratislava is the political, cultural and economic centre of Slovakia. It is the seat of the Slovak president, the parliament and the Slovak Executive. It is home to several universities, museums, theatres, galleries and other important cultural and educational institutions. Many of Slovakia's large businesses and financial institutions also have headquarters there.
The history of the city has been strongly influenced by people of different nations and religions, namely by Austrians, Czechs, Hungarians, Jews, Serbs and Slovaks (in alphabetical order). The city was the capital of the Kingdom of Hungary, a part of the larger Habsburg Monarchy territories, from 1536 to 1783 and has been home to many Slovak, Hungarian and German historical figures.
Cityscape and architecture
The cityscape of Bratislava is characterised by medieval towers and grandiose 20th-
Most historical buildings are concentrated in the Old Town. Bratislava's Town Hall is a complex of three buildings erected in the 14th–15th centuries and now hosts the Bratislava City Museum. Michael's Gate is the only gate that has been preserved from the medieval fortifications, and it ranks among the oldest of the town's buildings; the narrowest house in Europe is nearby. The University Library building, erected in 1756, was used by the Diet of the Kingdom of Hungary from 1802 to 1848. Much of the significant legislation of the Hungarian Reform Era (such as the abolition of serfdom and the foundation of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences) was enacted there.
The historic centre is characterised by many baroque palaces. The Grassalkovich Palace, built around 1760, is now the residence of the Slovak president, and the Slovak government now has its seat in the former Archiepiscopal Palace. In 1805, diplomats of emperors Napoleon and Francis II signed the fourth Peace of Pressburg in the Primate's Palace, after Napoleon's victory in the Battle of Austerlitz. Some smaller houses are historically significant; composer Johann Nepomuk Hummel was born in an 18th-
Notable cathedrals and churches include the Gothic St. Martin's Cathedral built in the 13th–16th centuries, which served as the coronation church of the Kingdom of Hungary between 1563 and 1830.
A curiosity is the underground (formerly ground-
Other prominent 20th-
One of the most prominent structures in the city is Bratislava Castle, situated on a plateau 85 metres (279 ft) above the Danube. The castle hill site has been inhabited since the transitional period between the Stone and Bronze ages and has been the acropolis of a Celtic town, part of the Roman Limes Romanus, a huge Slavic fortified settlement, and a political, military and religious centre for Great Moravia. A stone castle was not constructed until the 10th century, when the area was part of the Kingdom of Hungary. The castle was converted into a Gothic anti-
The ruined and recently renovated Devín Castle is in the borough of Devín, on top of a rock where the Morava River, which forms the border between Austria and Slovakia, enters the Danube. It is one of the most important Slovak archaeological sites and contains a museum dedicated to its history. Due to its strategic location, Devín Castle was a very important frontier castle of Great Moravia and the early Hungarian state. It was destroyed by Napoleon's troops in 1809. It is an important symbol of Slovak and Slavic history.
Bratislava is the cultural heart of Slovakia. Owing to its historical multi-
Bratislava is the seat of the Slovak National Theatre, housed in two buildings. The first is a Neo-
Music in Bratislava flourished in the 18th century and was closely linked to Viennese musical life. Mozart visited the town at the age of six. Among other notable composers who visited or lived in the town were Haydn, Liszt, Bartók and Beethoven. It is also the birthplace of the composers Johann Nepomuk Hummel Dohnanyi Erno, and Franz Schmidt. Bratislava is home to both the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra and the chamber orchestra, Capella Istropolitana. The city hosts several annual festivals, such as the Bratislava Music Festival and Bratislava Jazz Days. The Wilsonic Festival, held annually since 2000, brings dozens of international musical acts to the city each year. During the summer, various musical events take place as part of the Bratislava Cultural Summer at Bratislava Castle, Park kultúry a oddychu and elsewhere. Apart from musical festivals, it is possible to hear music ranging from underground to well known pop stars.
The Kupele Central (Central Baths) have become a focus for street art.
Museums and galleries
The Slovak National Museum (Slovenské národné múzeum), founded in 1961, has its headquarters in Bratislava on the riverfront in the Old Town, along with the Natural History Museum, which is one of its subdivisions. It is the largest museum and cultural institution in Slovakia. The museum manages 16 specialised museums in Bratislava and beyond. The Bratislava City Museum (Múzeum mesta Bratislavy), established in 1868, is the oldest museum in continuous operation in Slovakia. Its primary goal is to chronicle Bratislava's history in various forms from the earliest periods using historical and archaeological collections. It offers permanent displays in eight specialised museums.
The Slovak National Gallery, founded in 1948, offers the most extensive network of galleries in Slovakia. Two displays in Bratislava are next to one another at Esterházy Palace (Esterházyho palác,Eszterházy palota) and the Water Barracks (Vodné kasárne,Vizikaszárnya) on the Danube riverfront in the Old Town. The Bratislava City Gallery, founded in 1961, is the second-
Various sports and sports teams have a long tradition in Bratislava, with many teams and individuals competing in Slovak and international leagues and competitions.
Football is currently represented by two clubs playing in the top Slovak football league, the Fortuna Liga. ŠK Slovan Bratislava, founded in 1919, has its home ground at the Pasienky stadium. ŠK Slovan is the most successful football club in Slovak history, being the only club from the former Czechoslovakia to win the European football competition the Cup Winners' Cup, in 1969. FC Petržalka akadémia is the oldest of Bratislava's football clubs, founded in 1898, and is based at Stadium FC Petržalka 1898 in Petržalka (formerly at Pasienky in Nové Mesto and Štadión Petržalka in Petržalka). They are currently the only Slovak team to win at least one match in the UEFA Champions League group stage, with a 5–0 win over Celtic FC in the qualifying round being the most well-
Bratislava is home to three winter sports arenas: Ondrej Nepela Winter Sports Stadium, V. Dzurilla Winter Sports Stadium, and Dúbravka Winter Sports Stadium. The HC Slovan Bratislava ice hockey team represents Bratislava from 2012/2013 season in Kontinental Hockey League. Slovnaft Arena, a part of Ondrej Nepela Winter Sports Stadium, is home to HC Slovan. The Ice Hockey World Championships in 1959 and 1992 were played in Bratislava, and the 2011 Men's Ice Hockey World Championships were held in Bratislava and Košice, for which a new arena was built.
The Čunovo Water Sports Centre is a whitewater slalom and rafting area, close to the Gabčíkovo dam. It hosts several international and national canoe and kayak competitions annually.
The National Tennis Centre, which includes Sibamac Arena, hosts various cultural, sporting and social events. Several Davis Cup matches have been played there, including the 2005 Davis Cup final. The city is represented in the top Slovak leagues in women's and men's basketball, women's handball and volleyball, and men's water polo. The Devín–Bratislava National run is the oldest athletic event in Slovakia, and the Bratislava City Marathon has been held annually since 2006. A race track is located in Petržalka, where horse racing and dog racing events and dog shows are held regularly.