Bratislava is the capital city of the Slovak Republic, known as Pressburg to German-speakers or Pozsony to Hungarian-speakers, Bratislava got its present name only 90 years ago. But the city has a long and proud history that dates back to pre-Roman times. Bratislava, also referred to as the Beauty on the Danube, can not only boast about its interesting history but it also is the centre of the most dynamically developing region of central Europe at present.
BRATISLAVA (population 425,500), situated in the south-west of Slovakia, stretches on both banks of the Danube and in the foothills of the Little Carpathian Mts. Thanks to this favourable position it has always been a commercial centre. Today the historic places witness the rapid development of the young Slovak Republic. In spite of its exciting history, Bratislava is one of the youngest capitals of the world and its population is also very young. This modern metropolis is open to Europe and to the world which is proven by the increasing number of foreign visitors of most diverse countries. They are attracted by the cosiness of the rather small city centre that nevertheless possesses a throbbing social life and historic charm combined with the most recent trends. Palaces, modern shopping and trade centres, admirable arts of Slovak cooks and brewers, friendly people and various international cultural or sport events, exhibitions, and business opportunities are the reasons why it is worth a visit.
Bratislava is in the centre of Europe, in the extreme southwest of Slovakia. The edge of the city actually forms Slovakia's borders with Hungary, to the south, and Austria, to the west, making it the only capital city to border two neighbouring countries. In addition, the Czech Republic is only 62 kilometres away. Bratislava´s distance from the Austrian capital Vienna is only 60 kilometres, from the Hungarian capital Budapest it is only 160 km and from the Czech republic capital Prague it is 320 km, ranking these cities among the world's closest capital cities.
This strategically important place has played an important role in the history of central Europe. The date of December 2nd 1291 is the date of birth of Pressburg when its inhabitants became the free citizens of a royal borough. In the 14th and 15th centuries Bratislava experienced the period of rapid development in trade. The opening of the Academia Istropolitana (1467) strengthened the importance of Bratislava as the cultural and educational centre of the then Kingdom of Hungary. After the Turks penetrated deeper into the Kingdom, Bratislava was established a Capital of the Kingdom of Hungary, the seat of the Hungarian Diet, central administration and the coronation town of Hungarian Kings and Queens. Eleven Kings and eight royal wives were crowned in Bratislava in the years between 1563 and 1830.
The counter-Turk wars and the Rebellions of Estates in the 16th and 17th centuries have interrupted the development of towns. In the 18th century and above all during the reign of Queen Maria Theresa the significance of Bratislava increased again. A great number of wonderful palaces and buildings still survive from that period. The city became the centre of culture in the 19th century and Bratislava was the cradle of the Slovak national emancipation. The revolutionary events, workers movement and the First World War stigmatized Bratislava which, nevertheless, became the centre of the political, economic and cultural life of the Slovaks after 1918.
Present day Bratislava is a modern city and the seat of the most important political, economic, social and scientific bodies and institutions.