Hotels in Slovakia
Region (kraj) Bratislava Region
District (okres) Bratislava I-V
Geographic coordinates 48°9' N, 17°7' E 5
Altitude 126-514 m
Population 428,672
Area 367.59 km²
Car registration plate BA

Bratislava (until 1919: Prešporok in Slovak, Pressburg in German and English, Pozsony in Hungarian, Požun in Croatian) is the capital of Slovakia and the country's largest city, with a population of some 450,000. Bratislava lies on the River Danube, at Slovakia's borders with Austria and Hungary, and relatively close to the border with the Czech Republic. It is only 50 km (45-65 minutes by train) from Vienna. The Carpathian mountain range begins within the territory of the city with the Malé Karpaty (or Little Carpathians) mountains (part of the Carpathians).

Bratislava is the seat of the Slovak presidency, parliament and government. The city is home to universities, a relatively large number of museums, and to theatres and other cultural institutions (for example, the famous Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra).

Historically, the town has been influenced by several nations (among others, Austria, Hungary, and Slovakia). Shortly before WWI, it partly functioned as a relaxation place for people from Vienna, the two cities were even connected by a high-speed tram (since 1914). As is common for former cities of Austria-Hungary, Bratislava had other names, out of which the following ones were the only used or official forms before the end World War I (1919):

  • Preßburg or Pressburg, its old German name, Pressburg in modern German orthography. This was also the primary name used in English until 1919 (written as Pressburg).
  • Pozsony, its name in Hungarian (still used in Hungarian today)
  • Prešporok, its old Slovak name
  • Požun its old Croatian name

Basic data

Bratislava is located on both banks of the Danube river, at the foot of and in the Little Carpathians, directly at the Austrian and Hungarian borders

Climate of the city is mild. The annual average temperature is 9.9 °C, annual hours of sunshine is 1976.4 and average annual rainfall is 527.4 mm according to 1993 data.


See also: History of Bratislava (includes the development of the ethnic structure and important personalities)

  • Neolithic Age: the first permanent settlement of the region now known as Bratislava begins with the Linear Ceramics Culture
  • 400 B.C.-50 B.C.: Celts were settled here. From 125 B.C. on they had an important oppidum (fortified town) with a mint here.
  • 1st century – 5th century: the border of the Roman Empire (Limes Romanus) runs right through the middle of today's town; many Roman (e.g. "Gerulata") and Germanic settlements
  • 6th century-8th century: first Slavs (500 A.D.- today) and Avarians (560s - 8th century)
623-658: part of King Samo's Empire
  • late 8th century – 833: part of the Nitrian principality (Principality of Nitra)
  • 833 – 907: part of Great Moravia
  • 907 – 1918: part of Hungary (with short interruptions) and the captital of Bratislava Comitus:
1536-1784: capital of the Kingdom of Hungary (whose territory 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 (picture below))
since the 18th century: a center of the Slovak national movement
  • 1919-1939: part of Czechoslovakia; official new name becomes "Bratislava"- instead of "Prešporok" (Slovak) /"Pressburg" (German)/ "Pozsony" (Hungarian) in 1919
  • 1939-1945: the capital of Slovakia
  • 1945-1992: part of Czechoslovakia again:
1969-1992: the capital of the Federal State of Slovakia within Czechoslovakia
  • since 1993: the capital of Slovakia

Names of the city

The main known names of the town were as follows:

805/7 (maybe): Wratisslaburgium (Latin Pisonium or Posonium)
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; according to some sources derived from Braslava—see above; according to newer 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 as Bavarian accent does not differentiate between them)
after 1001: Preslav(v)a Civitas (Latin) (this name has been found only recently on coins)
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
- Croatian: Požun
- Romany: Pozhoma
- Slovak: Pressporek (1773), Prešporok (later) – stems from the German form
- Czech: Prešpurk
- French: Pressbourg, later: Presbourg – see e. g. the corresponding street name in Paris : rue de Presbourg
- English: Pressburg(h)
1918 temporarily: Wilsonovo mesto (i. e. "Wilson City", after U.S. President Woodrow Wilson)
since 1919: Bratislava (official name, origin disputed: according to older sources it is a mutilation of the old Slavic form Braslava, other say it is an invention by the US-president Wilson, according to newer sources it was created in the early 19th century by members of the Slovak movement and is derived (by mistake) from the name of the Bohemian ruler Bretislav)


Bratislava is picturesquely situated on both banks of the Danube, at the base of the outlying spurs of the Small 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 82 m 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, reaches 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 destroyed by Napoleonic 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:

  • the St. Martin's Cathedral (a Gothic edifice of the 14th-15th century replacing an older church from the 13th century) in which many of the Hungarian kings were crowned
  • Bratislava's Town hall (a complex of 14th-15th century buildings) containing an interesting museum – the City Museum founded in 1868
  • Bratislava's Franciscan church, dating from 1297
  • the building of the University Library (erected in 1756) where the sittings of the Diet (parliament) of the Kingdom of Hungary were held from 1802 to 1848
  • the Primate´s Palace (erected in 1781) in which the (4th) Peace of Pressburg has been signed
  • the beautiful Slovak National Theatre (built in 1886), and
  • the Michael's Gate (early 17th century), the only still existing tower of the town wall
  • the narrowest house in central (or maybe in whole) Europe (just behind the Michael's Gate)
  • Nový Most Bratislava is a bridge across the Danube river, featuring a UFO-like tower restaurant
  • Kamzik TV Tower is a TV tower of unique design with an observation deck

In general, the historic center is characterized by many baroque palaces. The Grassalkovich Palace (built 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, Milan Rastislav Štefánik international airport, and a river port. The GDP per capita (PPP) reaches 119% of the EU average, which is the second highest level (behind Prague) of all regions in all recent and expected acceding countries (Eurostat, data as of 2002; for data of 2000 see for example: [1])

Territorial division

  • 5 districts (for the purpose of national administrative 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)
  • 17 "city parts" (for the purpose of municipal administrative division and of serving as entities to which the town delegates its powers and functions imposed by law on communities), the number in brackets shows the corresponding district:
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)
  • 20 "cadastral areas" (townships): they are identical with the above city parts, except that:
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:

  • in Districts: Bratislava I 44 798, Bratislava II 108 139, Bratislava III 61 418, Bratislava IV 93 058, Bratislava V 121 259
  • Nationality: Slovaks 391 761, Hungarians 16 451, Roma 417, Czechs 7 972, Moravians 635, Ruthenes 461, Ukrainians 452, Germans 1 200, Poles 339, Croats 614
  • Religion: Roman Catholics 243 048, Lutherans of Augsburg Confession 24 810, Greeks Catholics 3 163, Reformed Christians 1 918, Orthodox 1 616, Jehovah's Witnesses 1 827, Methodist Protestants 737, Jews 700, Baptists 613
  • Age: 0 – 5 : 4.1 %, 6 – 14: 9.8 %, Productive Age: 62.9 %, Post-productive Age: 19%
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