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Bratislava is the capital and largest city of Slovakia and has a population of approximately 430,000 inhabitants. Bratislava is situated at the Danube River, immediately at the state borders to Austria and to Hungary, and relatively close to the border of the Czech Republic. It is located only some 60 km from Vienna (45-65 minutes by train). The town has the highest density of population in Central Europe. The Carpathian Mountains begin in the town's territory (Malé Karpaty, "Little Carpathians"). Bratislava is the seat of the Slovak presidency, parliament and government. There are universities, relatively many museums, theaters and other cultural institutions (for example, a famous philharmonic orchestra) in the town. Traditionally, the town has been influenced by several nations (Austria, Hungary, Slovakia and others). As is common for former cities of the Austro-Hungarian Empire it had other names in common use until World War I: Pressburg (German, today still the official alternative German name), and Pozsony (Hungarian).

Old Town of Bratislava viewed from the Castle

Table of contents
1 Basic data
2 History
3 Sights
4 Economy
5 Territorial division
6 Population
7 External link

Basic data

Area: 367, 6 km2

Location: 48°10' northern latitude, 17°10' eastern longitude; 140m about sea level (min. 126m, max. 514m); on both banks of the Danube, at the foot of and in the Little Carpathians, at the frontiers to Austria and Hungary

Climate: mild; annual mean temperature: 9. 9 °C, hours of sunshine per year 1976.4, average rainfall per year 527.4 mm (as of 1993)

Population: see below


for a more comprehensive history (as well as historic personalities and the ethnic structure of the town) see the article History of Bratislava

623-658: part of King Samo's Empire 1536-1784: capital of Hungary (whose territory only consisted until 1699 of today's Slovakia and parts of today's Western Hungary, because the Turks ruled Buda at that time); the Kingdom of Hungary was part of the Habsburg (i. e. Austrian) Monarchy from 1526 to 1918
1542-1848: meeting place of the Hungarian Diet (with short interruptions)
1563-1830: coronation town for Hungarian kings (St. Martin's Cathedral (see the picture))
since the 18th century: a center of the Slovak national movement
1969-1992: the capital of the Federal State of Slovakia within Czechoslovakia

Names of the city

The main known names of the town were as follows:

805/7(maybe): Wratisslaburgium, Pisonium (Latin)
late 9th century(?): Braslava (assumed medieval Slavic form, probably after a Slav prince Braslav)
around 850 : Istropolis (Greek, stems from the christianisation period, has been later used by king Matthias Corvinus)
907: Brezalauspurc(h) (the first sure name; found in the Salzburg Annals; very probably derived from Braslava—see above; some sources: derived from the name Predslav, the 3rd son of Svätopluk, see also after 1001; note that "P" and "B" are very often interchanged in Austrian and Bavarian local and family names )
after 1001: Preslav(v)a
1002: Poson (Hungarian form, probably after the 9th century Slav prince Božan)
1042: Brezesburg
1045: Bosenburg
1048: Brecesburg
1052: Poson, Brezisburg, Bresburc, Preslawaspurch
1098: Prespurch
1107: Bosan
1108: Preburch, Bosania, Prespurch, Bresbruch, Prespuerch, Brespurg, Posonia, Possen
1109: Bosan, Presburch
1142: Poson
1143: Bosonium
1146: Bosan
1147: Prespurch
1151 and 1163/4: Posonium (Latin, origin like Poson above)
1172 and 1194: Poson
1189: Bosonium, Brezburc, Bosonium quod Prespurc teutonice nuncupatur, Brisburc, Posonium
1197: Posony
1217: Posonia
later also:
- German: Pressburg, Preßburg
- Greek: Istropolis (meaning "the Danube City")
- Latin: Posonium
- Hungarian: Pozsony
- Slovak: Pressporek (1773), Prešporok (later) – stems from the German form
- French: Pressbourg – see e. g. the corresponding street name in Paris
- English: Pressburg(h), Pressborough
1918 temporarily: Wilsonovo mesto (i. e. "Wilson City", after US-president Wilson)
since 1919: Bratislava (official name, origin unknown: some say it stems from the 19th century from members of the Slovak movement, others say from the US-president Wilson, in any case, it is probably a mutilation of the old Slavic form Braslava)


Bratislava is picturesquely situated on both banks of the
Danube, at the base of the outlying spurs of the Little Carpathians, in a position of strategic importance near the Devín Gate (earlier called Hainburger Pforte or Porta Hungarica), and the area includes a picturesque old town.

One of the most conspicuous buildings of the town is the Bratislava Castle situated on a plateau 270 ft. above the Danube. The castle exists since time immemorial, has been the acropolis of a Celtic town, a part of the Roman Limes Romanus, a huge Slav fortified settlement and a political, military and religious center of Great Moravia. A castle of stone was built only in the 10th century (part of Hungary), it was turned to a Gothic anti-Hussite fortress under Sigismund of Luxemburg in 1430, in 1562 to a Renaissance castle, and in 1649 a baroque reconstruction took place. Under queen Maria Theresa, the castle was turned into a prestige seat of the royal governor Albert von Sachsen-Teschen, the son-in-law of Maria Theresa, who founded the Albertina picture gallery in the castle, which was later moved to Vienna. In 1784, when Bratislava ceased to be the capital of Hungary, the castle was turned to a school for Catholic clergy, and later in 1802 to barracks. In 1811, the castle was inadvertently destroyed by fire by the soldiers of the barracks and was in ruins till the 1950s, when it was reconstructed mostly in its former Maria Theresa style.

Another castle is the Devín Castle (still in ruins) in the city part Bratislava-Devín. It is situated on the top of a high rock at the point where the March (Morava) River, which forms the boundary between Austria and Slovakia, falls into the Danube. It is one of the most important Slovak archaeological sites and has been –thanks to its excellent location –a very important frontier castle of Great Moravia and the early Hungarian state. It was deliberately destroyed by Napoleon troops in 1809 and is an important symbol of Slovak and Slavic history.

Yet another castle, built in 1813 and turned to English Gothic style castle in the late 19th century, is situated in the city part Bratislava-Rusovce, otherwise known for ruins of Roman "Gerulata" settlements.

Other noteworthy buildings are:

In general, the historic center is characterized by many baroque palaces. The Grassalkowitch palace (around 1760), for example, is now the residence of the Slovak president, and the former archiepiscopal palace (1614-1765, the former summer residence of the archbishop of Esztergom) is now the seat of the Slovak government.


The economy of Bratislava is based mainly on services, engineering (Volkswagen) and electrical industry; there is also an important international road and railroad junction, "M. R. Štefánik" international airport, and a river port. The GDP per capita (PPP) reaches 98% of the EU average (or 108% of the EU+ acceding countries average), which is the second highest level of all regions in all aceeding countries (Eurostat, data as of 2000, see for example: [1])

Territorial division

Bratislava I (covers the city)
Bratislava II (covers the east and southeast)
Bratislava III (covers the north and northeast)
Bratislava IV (covers the west)
Bratislava V (covers the right river bank, i.e. the south, esp. the largest city part Petržalka)

1 Staré Mesto (I) ["Old Town"]
2 Ružinov (II)
3 Vrakuňa (II)
4 Podunajské Biskupice (II)
5 Nové Mesto (III) ["New Town"]
6 Rača (III)
7 Vajnory (III)
8 Karlova Ves (IV)
9 Dúbravka (IV)
10 Lamač (IV)
11 Devín (IV)
12 Devínska Nová Ves (IV)
13 Záhorská Bystrica (IV)
14 Petržalka (V)
15 Jarovce (V)
16 Rusovce (V)
17 Čunovo (V)

Nové Mesto is split in Nové Mesto + Vinohrady, and
Ružinov is split into Ružinov + Nivy + Trnávka


Bratislava has 428 672 inhabitants with an average age of 38,7 y [2001 census], out of which:

External link

Official website (Slovak, English)