Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, is a historic city of nearly 450 thousand inhabitants. The city is located in the south-west of the country, on the banks of the Danube, very close to the border with Austria and Hungary, a few tens of kilometers from Vienna.
The city is positioned in a picturesque way on the banks of the Danube, with the Carpathian mountain range to the north. It has an interesting historical center characterized by a mixed architecture influenced by the different populations that inhabited it. Until 1919 the city was known by the German name of Pressburg, on that date the population of the city was equally divided between Hungarians (40%) and Germans (42%), the Slovaks were only 15% of the inhabitants.
WHAT TO SEE: THE MAIN ATTRACTIONS OF BRATISLAVA
One of the most important buildings in the historic center is the Castle. This building is located on a hill overlooking the Danube from a height of 82 meters. The place where the castle was built was originally a Celtic settlement. It was then a Roman fortification belonging to the Roman Limes.
In the Middle Ages it became a Slavic fortified settlement. Then in the 10th century a stone castle was built, which in 1430 was considerably enlarged in Gothic style by Sigismund of Luxembourg. In 1562 and then in 1649 the construction was modified. Subsequently under the rule of Maria Theresa of Austria, the castle was renovated and used as the seat of the royal governor Albert von Sachsen-Teschen. He founded the gallery of prints, watercolors and drawings called Albertina in the castle, which was later moved to Vienna.
Accidentally destroyed by French troops in 1811, the castle remained in ruins until the 1950s, when it was rebuilt in the forms it had at the time of Maria Theresa of Austria. Today it houses the Slovak National Museum.
THE HISTORICAL CENTER
The historic center of Bratislava is characterized by many Baroque palaces, among which the Grassalkovich palace (built in 1760) stands out, today the residence of the President of the Slovak Republic.
Among the religious buildings to remember, the cathedral of Saint Martin (Dóm sv. Martina), built in the XIV-XV centuries in Gothic style. This was the place where the kings of Hungary were crowned. The cathedral has the tallest bell tower in the city (85 meters). Among the remains of the ancient walls, the only gate still visible today is the 14th century Michalská gate.
The ancient municipal building dating back to the 15th century houses the City Museum. The most beautiful example of classicist architecture in Bratislava is the Primaciálny palace with the hall of mirrors. This palace in 1805 was the seat of peace in Pressburg (Pressburg, the ancient name of Bratislava). The building houses a unique collection of ancient tapestry.
In the vicinity of Bratislava, on a high rock at the confluence of the Morava and the Danube, there are the ruins of Devín Castle. South of Bratislava, in the village of Rusovce, are a 19th century castle and the remains of the Roman settlement of Gerulata.
HOW TO GET THERE: FLIGHTS TO BRATISLAVA
Bratislava airport is Milan Rastislav Štefánik International Airport. The main airline flying to Bratislava is primarily the Irish low cost airline Ryanair.
Bratislava can also be reached by plane by flying to the airport in Vienna, Austria, which is located a few tens of kilometers from the Slovak capital.
HOW TO MOVE IN BRATISLAVA
The historic center of Bratislava is easily visited on foot. Bratislava’s public transport network uses three main types of vehicles: buses, which serve most of the city and the Petržalka area. The trams, which connect the center with the suburbs, with the exclusion of Petržalka. Trolleybuses, which connect the center with the suburbs and serve as a complementary means of transport.