Bratislava has always been a flourishing and prosperous town, which has made the most of its strategic position on the Danube and at the intersections of important European trade routes. In the Mediaeval period and later in the 18th century, it was a significant economic centre and later, a cultural and political centre of Central Europe. It was thanks to its location that in the 16th Century, Bratislava i became the capital and coronation town of the Hungarian Kingdom and the place, where its crown jewels were kept. For one thing, it was remote from the invading Turks, yet close to imperial Vienna, from where the whole of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was governed for almost the following 500 years.
For a long time, Vienna and Bratislava were very closely connected economically, culturally and politically. In the 18th century, the Castle was rebuilt and served as a summer residence for Queen Maria Theresa who visited the town frequently. The main reason for her regular visits was the fact, that her favourite daughter, Maria Christine, lived here for almost 20 years.
The strategic location of the town had been considered a long-term advantage but suddenly in the middle of the 20th century it became a major disadvantage, when Bratislava had to pay heavily for its unique position. After the communists came to power in 1948, an Iron Curtain, visible from the city centre, was drawn. It brutally divided what had once been a single economic and cultural region.
Following the fall of communism in 1989, Bratislava could at last develop as a free town and re-establish its close relations with Vienna.Now, paradoxically, it was Vienna which held the excluded region back from its more rapid growth. Although much was resolved once Slovakia became a member of the European Union in 2004, the final impediment to the rapid development of the cross-border Euro-region was removed as late as 2007 when a motorway on the Austrian side came into operation and Slovakia became part of the Schengen group.
Bratislava Main Attractions
If you are planning a trip to Slovakia’s capital, you definitely do not want to miss the top sites and places of interest that make Bratislava remarkable. Stroll the streets of the city from the historic Old Town Hall to the modern UFO Bridge. No visit to Bratislava would be complete without taking in all these attractions. Some of them have free admission while others charge a small entrance fee and accept discount passes.
The former seat of the rulers, today the symbol of Bratislava and the seat of the Museum of History. There is a wonderful view of the city and the neighboring countries from its 47-metre-high crown tower in which royal coronation jewels used to be deposited.
A three-nave Gothic church from the 15th century and the former coronation church. A gilded replica of the coronation crown fixed on the top of the cathedral tower at a height of 85 metres and weighing 150 kg reminds of this glorious age.
The former seat of the city self-government is since 1868 the seat of the Bratislava City Museum, the oldest museum in Slovakia. After climbing up the narrow stairs leading to its 45-metre-high tower you will be rewarded with a beautiful panoramic view of the Old Town.
A Classicist palace built in the 18th century in which the Peace of Pressburg was signed after Napoleon’s victory at the Battle of Austerlitz between the representatives of the French and Austrian emperors. The Palace houses a gallery depositing a unique collection of six English tapestries from the 17th century and also serves as the seat of the Mayor of Bratislava.
The only preserved gate of the city fortification system dates back to the 14th century. The upper terrace of its 51-metre-high tower provides an enchanting view of the Bratislava Castle and the Old Town. The tower houses the Museum of Arms.
A Rococo summer palace from the 18th century used to be known for its rich social life and a famous composer Joseph Haydn also performed here. Since 1996 it serves as the seat of the President of the Slovak Republic.
The St. Elizabeth’s church built in the Art Nouveau style at the beginning of the 20th century is remarkable for the blue colour of its façade made with attention to detail with often use of mosaic. It is a popular place for weddings and baptisms.
The largest war memorial in Central Europe is thanks to its height of 52 metres one of the dominating features of the city skyline. It is the burial ground of 6845 soldiers of the Soviet army who died during the liberation of Bratislava in World War II.
A unique observation deck on the pylons of the SNP Bridge at a height of 95 metres with amazing views of the city and visibility of up to 100 km. It offers the most beautiful sunset combined with a culinary experience.