The capital of Slovakia and, with a population of about 462,603, also the country's largest city. Bratislava is in southwestern Slovakia on both banks of the Danube River. Bordering Austria and Hungary, it is the only national capital that borders two independent countries. Museums, preserved churches, reconstructed mansions and palaces attract global visitors that generate profit for the tourism sector.
Also known by its German name Pressburg, Bratislava is a product of many cultures and peoples. Intertwined with its past are influences from the Austrians, Czechs, Germans, Hungarians, Jews and Slovaks. Hungary took seat in Bratislava during 1536 and crowned many Hungarian kings and queens at St. Martin's Cathedral. Numerous historical icons from Hungary, Germany and Slovakia resided in Bratislava. The first known permanent settlement of the area began with the Linear Pottery Culture, around 5000 BC in the Neolithic era. About 200 BC, the Celtic Boii tribe founded the first significant settlement, a fortified town known as an oppidum, and also established a mint which produced silver coins known as biatecs. The area fell under Roman influence from the 1st to the 4th century AD and formed part of the Limes Romanus, a border defence system. The Romans introduced grape growing to the area and began a tradition of winemaking, which survives to the present.
After the Communist Party seized power in Czechoslovakia in February 1948, the city became part of the Eastern Bloc. The city annexed new land, and the population rose significantly, becoming 90% Slovak. Large residential areas consisting of high-rise prefabricated panel buildings, such as those in the Petržalka borough, were built. The Communist government also built several new grandiose buildings, such as the Nový Most bridge and the Slovak Radio headquarters, sometimes at the expense of the historical cityscape. In 1968, after the unsuccessful Czechoslovak attempt to liberalise the Communist regime, the city was occupied by Warsaw Pact troops. Shortly thereafter, it became capital of the Slovak Socialist Republic, one of the two states of the federalized Czechoslovakia. Bratislava's dissidents anticipated the fall of Communism with the Bratislava candle demonstration in 1988, and the city became one of the foremost centres of the anti-Communist Velvet Revolution in 1989.In 1993, the city became the capital of the newly formed Slovak Republic following the so called Velvet Divorce.
The city of Bratislava is a popular destination for weekend travellers from other nearby countries, serving a variety of fun, indoor & outdoor activities and stag party packages. Investors see very high potential in the city. Heaps of construction developments and modern architectural plans glamorize the city's skyline. Mountains, hills, rivers and lowlands comprise the setting of Bratislava. Slovaks enjoy the fullness of nature together with the state-of-the-art malls, theatres, terminals and entertainment facilities.
The Main Square is one of Bratislava's top tourist spots. Here, attractive colourful buildings reminiscent of the baroque and renaissance era fill the perimeters. The Old Town Hall and The Roland Fountain are part of the usual route for guests. Many foreign embassies take domain in the buildings on the Main Square, steadily dwelling among the cheerful ambiance of the area. Some retail shops and cafes are also in location.
- Bratislava Castle. 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-Hussite fortress under Sigismund of Luxemburg in 1430, became a Renaissance castle in 1562, and was rebuilt in 1649 in the baroque style. Under Queen Maria Theresa, the castle became a prestigious royal seat. In 1811, the castle was inadvertently destroyed by fire and lay in ruins until the 1950s, when it was rebuilt mostly in its former Theresian style.
- Apollo Bridge. Bratislava's new pride is this sophisticated bridge crossing the Danube River. Inaugurated on 2005, it was the sole European structure to become a nominee of the 2006 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award (OPAL Award) conducted by the American Civil Engineering Society. This attractive bridge is designed to carry the traffic of vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. Costing close to 103 million Euro, the bridge's opening ceremony was attended by 25,000 people.
- Devin Castle. One of Bratislava's historical landmarks is the Devin Castle. This famous attraction has played a monumental role in the Slovakian past. It was occupied by the Celts in the 1st century BC; the Roman Empire made use of it as a military station; and the Moravian Empire used it as a boundary fortress of the Hungarian state. Napoleon troops had blown up the area around 1809.
The castle is now property of the Municipal Museum. It is open to the public until winter sets in.
- The Grassalkovich Palace. Is the residence of the president of Slovakia. It is situated on Hodžovo námestie, near the Summer Archbishop's Palace. The building is a Rococo/late Baroque summer palace with a French garden. It was built in 1760 for Count Antal Grassalkovich, a Hungarian noble serving as the head of the Hungarian Chamber (a sort of ministry of economy and finance for the Kingdom of Hungary), by architect Anton Mayerhofer. It features many beautiful rooms and an impressive staircase. The chapel is decorated with frescoes by Joseph von Pichler. The building became a center of Baroque musical life in Pozsony/Pressburg. Joseph Haydn premiered some of his works here. Count Grassalkovich also had his orchestra and his "colleague", Prince Esterházy, used to "lend" him his favorite conductor, Haydn. The last owners of the palace before the end of Austria-Hungary were archduke Frederick of Teschen with his wife Isabella of Croy-Dülmen. From 1919 the palace was occupied by the Territorial Military Command. After its reconstruction in the early 1990s, on 30 September 1996 the palace became the residence of Slovakia's president. Its once-large gardens are now a public park, complete with a statue of Bratislava-born composer Jan Nepomuk Hummel.
- Slavín Memorial. is a memorial monument and military cemetery. It is the burial ground of thousands of Soviet Army soldiers who fell during World War II while liberating the city in April 1945 from the occupying German Wehrmacht units and the remaining Slovak troops who supported the clero-fascist Tiso government. It is situated on a hill amidst a rich villa quarter of the capital and embassy residences close to the centre of Bratislava.
It was constructed between 1957 and 1960 on the site of a field cemetery, and opened on April 3, 1960 on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the city's liberation. The monument was constructed similar in kind to the Palace of Culture and Science in Stalinist architectural style. In 1961 it was declared a National Cultural Monument.