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History of Bratislava

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Title: History of Bratislava  
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Subject: List of fountains in Bratislava, St. Martin's Cathedral, Bratislava, Franciscan Church, Bratislava, Bratislava City Museum, Braslav
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History of Bratislava

This page gives an overview of the history of Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia and the country's largest city.


  • Prehistory 1
    • Early Iron Age 1.1
      • Late Iron Age 1.1.1
  • 1st century–10th century 2
  • 1000–1241 3
  • 1241–1536 4
  • 1536–1784 5
    • Anti-Habsburg uprisings 5.1
  • 1784–1900 6
  • 20th century 7
    • Post-World War II 7.1
    • After the fall of communism 7.2
  • 21st century 8
  • Demographic evolution 9
  • City name history 10
    • Etymology 10.1
    • Older city name forms 10.2
  • Notable historical figures 11
  • See also 12
  • References 13
    • Footnotes 13.1
    • Notations 13.2
  • External links 14


An original Biatec and its replica on a modern 5-koruna coin.

In the area where present-day Bratislava lies, three skeletons of the (Epi)Pliopithecus vindobonensis were found in the borough Devínska Nová Ves in 1957, dating 25–15 million years ago. Teeth of the Griphopithecus suessi (formerly known as Sivapithecus darwiny or Dryopithecus darwiny), dating 14–10 million years ago, were also found in Devínska Nová Ves, this time in 1902. From the Paleolithic period, hand-axes and other stone tools of Homo heidelbergensis (from the periods about 0.45 million years and about 0.3 million years ago) and of Neanderthal man were found. The first known permanent settlements on the town's territory (Linear Ceramics Culture) was in Neolithic. The first known fortified settlement on the area of later medieval castle of Bratislava appeared in Eneolithic. In the Bronze Age there were settlements from both older and younger (Urnfield cultures) part of the period. On the area of later Devín caste one finds important clues to final period of Bronze Age (Podoli Culture), when a fortified settlement arose on the strategic place: rock-cliff over river Morava joining river Danube.

Early Iron Age

Early Iron Age brought a shift of the settlement centre again to the area of today's historical centre and castle of Bratislava. Many finds support the theory that both castle-hill and area of the town (on an important river-crossing) formed an important seat of local Hallstatt Culture Prince, while richly furnished mounds (barrows) were excavated on eastern suburbs of the city.

Late Iron Age

Devín, creating a smaller, more easily protectable hill-fort settlement. The arrival or Germans from the west forced the rest of the Celts to seek protection under the Romans on the other (right) side of Danube.

1st century–10th century

From the 1st to 4th centuries the border of the Roman Empire (Limes Romanus) ran along the Danube.[2] The northern side belonged to the Free Barbaricum (German tribes – Marcomanni) and southern side belonged to Rome. Under the suburb of Rusovce, the remains of the Roman border town Gerulata have been excavated, as well as cemeteries and farming background of the town (Villa Rusticas). Despite belonging officially to Barbaricum, several sites of Roman presence are to be found on the area of the city: Devín Castle hill with Roman military garrison, Stupava with its trading (?) station, Dúbravka with remains of Roman baths (attempt to built Villa Rustica?). The Slavs arrived in the area between the 5th and 6th centuries during the Migration Period.

In 568 the Eurasian Avars arrived in the area. After a successful insurrection of the Slavs (probably at Bratislava-Devín) against Avarian rule in this region, Samo is made King of the Slavs in 623, establishing first known Slavic political entity, the Samo's Empire, which lasted until 658.[3] From the 8th century until 907 the Bratislava Castle as well as the Devín Castle are important centres of the Principality of Nitra and (since 833) of Great Moravia.[4] The Bavarian historian Johannes Aventinus will write in the 16th century that in 805 the Bratislava Castle was repaired during the reign of its lord, Prince Vratislav, on the place of the ruins of an old Roman settlement allegedly called Pisonium, and was named Wratisslaburgium; if this is true, Prince Vratislav is, after Samo, only the second Slavic historical figure known from the Middle Danube region.

In 864 the first written reference to the Devín Castle (Dowina) appears in the Fuldish Annals. Around 900 it was probably owned by the (originally) Lower Pannonian prince Braslav (Bräslav, Brazlaw) – or by a magnate of the same name – who was a vassal of Bavaria (Germany). Earlier, it was thought that Bräslav was the person who gave the town Pressburg its German name Brezalauspurc (see 907), later Pressburg, and maybe also its new Slovak name Bratislava; nowadays, it is assumed that Pressburg/Brezalauspurc is a distortion of Predeslausburg, a name derived from Predslav, who was (according to some historians) the ruler of Bratislava around 900 and the 3rd son of the Great Moravian king Svätopluk; the modern Slovak name Bratislava, however, is assumed to be derived (by mistake) from the name of the Czech ruler Bretislav I. The first written reference to Bratislava (as Brezalauspurc)[5] appears in 907, in connection with the battle(s) of Bratislava (in the Salzburg Annals): The Bavarians are totally defeated by the Magyars; as a result, the Frankish East March ceases and is occupied by the Magyars (907–955). Traditionally, this is considered the end of the state Great Moravia. The town is now part of emerging medieval Hungary.


From 1000 to the early 13th century a market settlement (the future town centre) grows below the Bratislava Castle (first written reference in 1151) and becomes an important centre in the early 13th century. Further settlements in the surroundings follow. At the same time, the territory around Bratislava is annexed into the Kingdom of Hungary and became a key economic and administrative centre at the kingdom's frontier.[6] The Castle became the one with the best fortification in Hungary because of its position, it became a site of frequent attacks and battles, along with the city, and a place of frequent stay of Hungarian kings (who mainly hold tournaments and parties), so it receives a more luxurious equipment. Around 1000 the Pozsony county (comitatus), one of the first counties in Hungary, is founded probably by Grand Prince Stephen I. Coins with the inscriptions "PHANUS REX" and "RESLAVVA CIV" were found in Sweden; some scholars claim that the coins were minted in
"(p)RESLAVVA CIV(itas)" or "(b)RESLAVVA CIV(itas)" (i.e., in the town of Bratislava), but other authors point out that no coins of this type have been found on the territory of the Kingdom of Hungary, their weight and diameter differ from King Stephen's other coins and their inscriptions are confused which suggest that they are counterfeit coins minted abroad on the sample of other coins that had been minted following the patterns of King Stephen's coins with the inscriptions "STEPHANUS REX" and "REGIA CIVITAS".[7]

In 1030 the Czech duke Břetislav I, participating in a campaign of the German emperor Konrad II against Hungary, devastates present-day western Slovakia and undertakes an attack against the Bratislava castle but is defeated by the Hungarian king. 12 years later Břetislav I and the troops of the German king Henry III temporarily conquer Bratislava. Henry undertakes a new invasion in 1043.

In 1052 German king Henry III besieges Pressburg for 2 months without success, but causes considerable damage to the castle. The following year, Pope Leo IX personally visits the town to achieve a peace between Henry and the Hungarian king. In 1073 and 1074 Hungarian king Solomon, who was based at Bratislava castle during his fighting against Géza and Duke Ladislaus, had the castle reconstructed. Hungarians settle in the market settlement below the castle in several waves in the 12th and 13th centuries, joining the previously predominantly Slovak inhabitants there. In 1108 German king Henry V along with the Czech duke Svatopluk fails to conquer Pressburg castle. In 1109 a new attack of the Czechs (undertaken as a revenge for a Hungarian attack of Moravia) fails. Boris, who claimed for the throne against King Géza I of Hungary, although his mother had been repelled by her husband, King Coloman of Hungary because of adultery, besieged and conquered the Bratislava castle in 1146.[8] The Hungarian king has to buy it back. The Hungarian king Stephen III is living in Bratislava castle in the 1160s and has its fortification improved. Participants of the Third Crusade to the Holy Land, led by the German king Frederick I Barbarossa, gather at Bratislava castle in 1189.


The earliest known depiction of Bratislava Castle, 14th century
Pressburg city plan, 1438–55

In 1241 and 1242 the Mongols fail to conquer the fortified castle and the town below it, but temporarily devastate the surrounding settlements. The castle is adapted after these attacks. After 1242 German colonists come to the town and gradually their number will increase, so that till the late 19th century they will represent by far the largest ethnic group in the town. In 1271 and 1273–1276 the town is captured by the King of Bohemia, Ottakar II in connection with fighting between Hungary and Bohemia because of Styria. In this connection, the (1st) Peace of Pressburg is signed in 1271.

The city is captured by the Hungarian noble and palatine Nicolaus von Güssing in 1285–1286, who (temporarily) burns down the castle in 1286, but his revolt against the king is defeated. In 1287–1291 the city is captured by the Austrian duke Albert of Habsburg. Albert is defeated by the Hungarian noble Matthew III Csák of Trenčín, who was the leader of Pressburg and Trenčín counties at that time and Bratislava belongs to Hungary again.

The town (part below the castle) is conferred its (first known) town privileges by the Hungarian king Andrew III in 1291.[9] Earlier town privileges are not known, but probable, because Bratislava has been called a "town" as early as around 1250. After 1291, the town received many privileges from Hungarian kings, especially from the emperor Sigismund in the 15th century. After the death of the Hungarian king Andrew III, Pressburg was annexed by Austria in 1301, because Andrew's widow gave the town to the Habsburgs. The Habsburgs return it to Hungary in 1322, but occupy it again. It is only in 1338 that the town finally becomes part of Hungary again. In 1405 the town was declared a "free royal town" by King Sigismund of Luxemburg.[6] Not only Bratislava but all towns in Hungary got this status (meaning that they received "collective nobility", i.e. the status of a feudal lord with all its privileges) because Sigismund wanted to restrain the increasing power of (true) feudal lords in Hungary. The Hussites first appeared in 1428, when they burned down the suburbs of Pressburg Negotiations held year later in Bratislava between Sigismund of Luxemburg and the Hussites (in April and in June) fail. Between 1432 and 1434 Hussites tried to conquer the city but their attacks fail. The first bridge over the Danube in Bratislava was built in 1434, but it was destroyed by floods next year.[10] In 1434 and 1435 the amount of payments by Hungary, against which the Hussites will leave Slovakia, is being officially negotiated. In 1436 Sigismund of Luxemburg awards Bratislava the right to use its own coat of arms[11] and orders to improve the fortification of the castle (because of the last Hussite invasion during that year). From 1439 to 1486 another bridge over the Danube existed in Bratislava, being washed away by flood in 1486.[12] Between 1440 and 1443 there was a fighting between the castle of Bratislava, supporting king Ladislaus III of Poland, and the actual town of Bratislava below the castle hill, supporting (and owned by) queen Elisabeth. In 1442 Ladislaus settles at the castle and temporarily conquers the town, but is defeated by the Austrian emperor Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor supporting Elisabeth. Finally, in 1443 Elisabeth gets the town back, but the castle remains in Ladislaus' hands till his death in 1444. From 1465 until 1490 Bratislava was the seat of the first university in present-day Slovakia, the Universitas Istropolitana (often wrongly called Academia Istropolitana).[13] From 1490 to 1526 Bratislava is a place of diplomatic negotiations under the Jagiellonian kings. In 1490 Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor drives the Hungarians from Austria (summer 1490) and even occupies Hungarian frontier territories, but he is compelled by want of money to retreat and signs the Treaty of Pressburg (also called the (2nd) Peace of Pressburg) with the Hungarian King Ladislaus II on 7 November 1491. Under this treaty it is agreed that Hungary renounces to Lower Austria and Maximilian should succeed to the crown in case Ladislaus left no legitimate male issue.

After the Battle of Mohács in 1526, where the Kingdom of Hungary was defeated by the expanding Ottoman Empire, the Turks besiege Bratislava in 1529, but fail to conquer it. Two years later churches and hospitals outside the town wall are deliberately destroyed so that the Turks are not able to see from there to the town behind the town wall. In the beginning of 1532 thousands of soldiers are sent to Bratislava as a protection against the Turks planning to attack Vienna. Bratislava is temporarily turned to a military camp. The Turks, seeing the military force in Bratislava, decide to attack Vienna from the south.


As a consequence of Ottoman advances through Hungarian territory and the capture of Buda, the city was designated as the capital of Royal Hungary in 1536. The Kingdom of Hungary was part of the Habsburg Monarchy from 1526 to 1918. It was also made a meeting place of the Hungarian Diet from 1542 to 1848 (with interruptions) and the coronation town for Hungarian kings and queens from 1536 to 1830 (in the St. Martin's Cathedral). The first coronation is that of King Maximilian of Habsburg, the last one the coronation of Ferdinand V. Altogether, 11 kings and 8 queens were crowned in the town.[14] However, in the 17th century, the town is touched by anti-Habsburg uprisings. In addition, there are fighting with the Turks, floods, plagues and other disasters. The Evangelic Lutheran Lyceum (Evanjelické lýceum), a kind of Protestant grammar school and in the 19th century also a kind of university, is founded in 1607 (see 1803).

Anti-Habsburg uprisings

In 1606 (within the Stephen Bocskay Uprising) Bocskay troops occupy the surroundings of Bratislava. Bethlen conquers Bratislava in 1619, as a part of the Gabriel Bethlen uprising. He is defeated by imperial troops in 1621 and then besieges the town from 1621 to 1622. The (3rd) Peace of Pressburg between Gabriel Bethlen and the emperor Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor is signed in 1626, which puts an end to the Bethlen anti-Habsburg uprising. From 1671 to 1677 Bratislava is seat of extraordinary courts against the Protestants and participants of anti-Habsburg uprisings; e.g. a trial against the participants of the Wesselényi conspiracy takes place in 1671. Within the Imre Thököly Uprising from 1682 to 1683 Bratislava is the only town in present-day Slovakia that refuses to capitulate to Thököly's troops. Finally, the town, but not the castle capitulates in July 1683 and is only reconquered by imperial troops after the Turks have been defeated near Vienna (which happened in September 1683). The last of these uprisings that touched the town was in 1704 (within the Rákóczi Uprising), when Prince Eugene of Savoy manages to protect Bratislava from Rákóczi's troops, but the surroundings of the town are totally destroyed.

Since the 18th century the city has been an important centre of the Slovak national and cultural movement (Slovak National Revival). The Great Plague Epidemic kills 3800 people in years 1710 and 1711. Later Holy Trinity column is erected in thanksgiving to God for its ending. In the 18th century, many new baroque buildings are erected, the economy flourishes (1st manufacture in 1728), first parks arise (today's Hviezdoslavovo námestie), the town wall is demolished in 1775 to enable further expansion, and the first city theatre was opened in 1776 and Bratislava becomes the largest and most important town on the territory of present-day Slovakia and Hungary.[15]

The first journal in Hungary, Mercurius Veridicus ex Hungaria, is published here in 1705 and the first regular newspaper in Hungary (written in Latin), Nova Posoniensia, is issued in 1721–1722.

Bratislava in the Baroque era, 1735

Pragmatic Sanction law was acknowledged in 1713 which decided the Habsburg monarch's unity and the woman can inhereit the Hungarian throne. Maria Theresa of Austria is crowned Queen Regnant of Hungary at St. Martin's Cathedral on 25 June 1741.[16] The 6-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart gives a concert in the Palffy palace in 1762. In 1764 the first German newspaper in Hungary, the Pressburger Zeitung, begins publication and remains until 1929 and in 1944, the first newspaper in Hungarian, Magyar hírmondó, is published here.

In 1782: The number of inhabitants reaches 33,000 (out of which 29,223 are in the part of the town below the castle that has the free royal town status) thus making Bratislava the biggest town in Hungary. The number of inhabitants has increased by 200% between 1720 and 1780. In 1783, the first newspaper in Slovak, Presspurske Nowiny (which remains in circulation until 1787) is published and the first novel in Slovak, Rene mladenca prihody a skusenosti" (The adventures and experiences of the youth Rene) by Jozef Ignác Bajza, is published. However, in 1783, under the reign of Joseph II, the crown jewels are taken to Vienna and many central offices moved to Buda, which are followed by a big part of nobility.[17][18] The number of inhabitants decreases and the economic situation of the town deteriorates until 1811. From now on Bratislava is only the coronation town and the seat of the Hungarian diet. In 1775 the crowning hill was built by Maria Theresa from soil of Hungary's 64 counties. The new monarch had to ride to the crowning hill and swish their blade towards the four cardinal points.[19]


From 1784 to 1800 the General Seminary (a school for Catholic clergy) works in the Pressburg Castle. One of the notable students is Anton Bernolák, who would publish in 1787 the first Slovak language standard. Another educating institution was the Royal Academy, moved also in 1787 to the city from Trnava. In 1803, a separate "Department of Czechoslovak Speech and Literature" is created (from the Institute of Czechoslovak Speech and Literature founded in 1801) at the Lutheran Lyceum.

Bratislava was also playing a role in the early 19th century. In 1805 the fourth and best-known Treaty of Pressburg is signed by Austria and France after Napoleon I's victory in the Battle of Austerlitz. Four years later Napoleon's army besieges and bombards the city and Napoleon I visits the city. The Dévény Castle is turned into a ruin by the French troops in 1809 and the Pressburg Castle is inadvertently destroyed by fire in 1811 (and will remain in ruins until the 1950s).

In 1820 the 9-year-old Franz Liszt plays in De Pauli's Palace. Five years later, István Széchenyi offers his yearly income to establish the Hungarian National Learned Society (now Hungarian Academy of Sciences) in Bratislava.[20] In 1829 the "Czech-Slav Society" (also called the Society for the Czechoslovak language and literature) is created by students of the Lutheran Lyceum, which will become an important entity in the Slovak national movement. Ľudovít Štúr also started to study at the Lyceum and will spend 20 years at the lyceum together. In 1843 he codified the present-day Slovak language standard. The industrialisation of the town begins with regular steamship transport on the Danube in 1830. Ten years later the first (horse-)railway line in Hungary and present-day Slovakia is built from Bratislava to the town of Svätý Jur, north of Bratislava.[21] Later, it will extend to Trnava and Sereď (1846).[22]

  • 1835:The first champagne was made by Esch and Co in Pressburg in Hungary
  • 1837 First middle-class casino (an elite club), (Mágnás Kör or Pozsonyi Casino) was founded[23] by István Széchenyi.[24]
  • 1843: Sándor Petőfi lives in the city. He works as part of the Diet's administrative staff.[20]
  • 1843–1844:Hungarian language is proclaimed the official language in legislation, public administration and teaching by the Diet.[20]
  • 1847–1848: Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria opens the Diet in the Primate's Palace's mirror room, addressing the MPs in Hungarian.[25]
  • 1848 (16 March): Lajos Batthyány and Lajos Kossuth propose political reforms to the emperor. Lajos Kossuth proclaims "Hungary reborn" from the hotel Zöldfa (English: Greenwood)'s balcony next day. Ferdinand I of Austria appoints Lajos Batthyány to form a new Hungarian government.[25]
  • 1848 (18 March): The Diet declares the new Hungarian constitution and abolishes serfdom.[25]
  • 1848: (11 April): Ferdinand I of Austria signs (in the Primate Palace's Mirror Room) the so-called March Laws, by which serfdom is partly abolished in Hungary. Then he dissolves the Diet. That is the last Hungarian Diet convened in Bratislava, after its transfer to Budapest.[25]
  • 1848–1849: During the Julius Jacob von Haynau sentences 149 people to prison and 14 people to death. The 13 Martyrs of Arad's sentences to death are also signed by Haynau there.[25]
  • 1848: Railway connection to Vienna.
  • 1850: Railway connection to Budapest.
  • Late 19th century: The city was prosperitied by mayor Henrik Justi and banker Theodor Edl. During the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, they were political opponents. Strong modernisation (sewerage and gas-works 1856, telephone and electrical lighting system 1884, water supply system, 1st permanent bridge over the Danube 1891 (Starý most, see also 1439), trams 1895, public electricity 1902) and industrialisation (chemical factory known today as Istrochem) 1873, oil refinery known today as Slovnaft a.s.) 1895. As a result, during the last decades of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, Bratislava is the 2nd most industrialized town of the Kingdom of Hungary.
  • 1866: The Battle of Lamač becomes the last battle of the Austro-Prussian War.[26]
  • 1867: After the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, Henrik Justi, the former leader of the 1848 Hungarian Nation Guard in the city, becomes the mayor.[19]
  • 1870 (4 May): The Coronation Hill is rebuilt by the city council's order.[27]
  • 1886 (22 Sept): City theater (today's Slovak National Theatre) was opened. Kálmán Tisza Hungarian Prime Minister and his whole government, Mór Jókai took part on this ceremony with the opera Bánk bán. Gala performance was conducted by Ferenc Erkel.[28]
  • 1897 (15 May): Statue of Maria Tereza, made by János Fadrusz, is erected on the Coronation Hill square. Franz Joseph I of Austria and his family take part on the dedication's ceremony.[27]

20th century

In 1905 Martin and Nitra. Earlier the (Hungarian) Elisabeth University worked here- it had been a predecessor of the Slovak Comenius University after the Czechoslovakian state requistioned it on 6 January. The whole teaching staff were arrested on 28 January, because they rejected the invitation in the new Czechoslovakian government's joining up celebration. The (Slovakian) Comenius University (Univerzita Komenského) is founded then. The government moved to the city on 4–5 February. On 12 February German and Hungarian people demonstrated against of the Czechoslovak occupation on the Vásár square (now SNP Square). The shooting by the Czechoslovak troops left 9 people dead and 23 wounded.[31] On 27 March, the town's official new name becomes "Bratislava" – instead of "Prešporok" (Slovak) / "Pressburg" (German) / "Pozsony" (Hungarian).

On 4 May Milan Rastislav Štefánik, French–Slovak general died in an airplane crash near Bratislava.[32] On 26–27 October in 1921 the statue of Maria Theresa was destroyed by Slovakian nationalists and the members of the Sokol Movement.

Between 1928 and 1930 Hotel Carlton was built instead of hotel Zöldfa at the Séta square (now Hviezdoslavovo square). Before Lajos Kossuth Franz Joseph I. Alfred Nobel Albert Einstein stayed at the hotel Zöldfa too. In the time of census in 1930 the Hungarian residents' rate decreased to under 20% and as a result of it the Hungarian name-plates were removed. Between 1938 (October) – 1939 (March): Seat of the government of the autonomous Slovakia within Czecho-Slovakia (see e.g. Jozef Tiso). Between 1938 (November) – 1945, the future Petržalka borough was occupied by Nazi Germany, and from October 1938 to April 1945, the future Devín borough was part of the Lower Austria area of the German Third Reich. After the break-up of Czechoslovakia, Bratislava became the capital of the First Slovak Republic in 1939. Until 1945, most of the approximately city's 15,000 Jews were expelled[33] and sent into concentration camps. The Bratislava oil district included the Apollo oil refinery and was bombed on 9 September 1944 during the German occupation. The Soviet Red Army took Bratislava on 4 April 1945.

Post-World War II

After the war, most of the Germans were expelled (although some Germans had already been evacuated by German authorities).[34][35] On 5 May in 1945 Slovakian soldiers broke into the flats of Hungarians living in Bratislava. Packaging was allowed in a half past hour. 90% of Hungarian population was transferred to Petržalka having about 20,000 people in detention camps between inhuman circumstances.

90 teenage soldiers -came from Csík county- who did not take part in military actions were murdered by Czechoslovakian soldiers with shot in the backs of the neck on the way home in the weeks after World War II in Petržalka.[36][37]
In 1946, the city incorporated the neighbouring villages of Devín, Dúbravka, Lamač, Petržalka, Prievoz (now part of Ružinov), Rača, and Vajnory (Karlova Ves had been annexed in 1944). The so-called Bratislava bridgehead on the right bank of the Danube was enlarged in 1947 with the hitherto Hungarian villages of Jarovce, Rusovce and Čunovo according to the Paris Peace Conference, which transferred these villages to Czechoslovakia, on the grounds that "Bratislava needs space for enlargement". After the Communists seized power in February 1948, the city became part of the Eastern Bloc. Several present-day cultural institutions were established (first films made in the town in 1948; Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra founded in 1949; Slovak National Gallery in 1951, Slovak Academy of Sciences in 1953, Bratislava Gallery in 1959, Slovak Television in 1956), several factories and landmarks were built, sometimes at the expense of the historical cityscape. (Slavín in 1960, Kamzík TV Tower in the 1970s, reconstruction of the Bratislava Castle in 1953–62 and Nový Most, the second bridge over the Danube, in 1972; from factories Bratislavské automobilové závody and Slovnaft). The city was also affected by the unsuccessful Czechoslovak attempt to liberalize the Communist regime in 1968. Shortly after that, the city became capital of the Slovak Socialist Republic, a part of federalized Czechoslovakia, after the signing of the Law of Federation at the Bratislava Castle in 1968. Since the 1960s, construction of the huge prefab panel buildings had been ongoing. The city also expanded once more in 1972, annexing villages of Jarovce, Rusovce, Čunovo, Devínska Nová Ves, Záhorská Bystrica, Vrakuňa and Podunajské Biskupice. The third bridge over the Danube, called Prístavný most (Harbour Bridge) was built in 1985. The fall of the Communism was anticipated by the candle demonstration in 1988, which had been violently scattered by the police.

After the fall of communism

In November 1989 the city became one of the centres of the Velvet Revolution; Alexander Dubček held his first speech in the city since 1970 and one day before the demonstrations in Prague, Slovak students rally against the Communist regime on 16 November 1989; further demonstrations would follow. The first non-Communist political party, "Public Against Violence" (Verejnosť proti násiliu, VPN) is created on 21 November.

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Bratislava was plagued by rise in criminality. From 6 October 1990 to 16 July 1991 Bratislava had two active serial killers – Ondrej Rigo and Jozef Slovák.

In 1991 the factory of the automaker Volkswagen was founded in Bratislava (until 1994 as a joint venture with the Bratislavské automobilové závody); the fourth bridge over the Danube, Most Lafranconi, was built. On 17 July 1992 the Declaration of Independence of the Slovak Nation is adopted by the Slovak National Council (called National Council of the Slovak Republic since 1994). Six days later the prime ministers of the two constituent republics of Czechoslovakia agree to split the country into two independent states; the Constitution of Slovakia is adopted 1 September and signed at the Bratislava Castle 3 September. After the Dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1992 the city is declared the capital of independent Slovakia.

21st century

Year Event
2003 The millionth car is produced at Volkswagen Bratislava. The factory produces the models Touareg, Polo, SEAT Ibiza, Golf, Bora 4Motion and their sub-models in 2003.
2003 Construction starts on the fifth bridge over the Danube, the Apollo bridge (Most Apollo): the bridge was opened for traffic on 3 September 2005.
2005 Vladimir Putin meet at Slovakia Summit 2005.
2010 Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico, Head of Parliament Pavol Paska and President Ivan Gasparovic unveiled a statue of the 9th century leader of the historic Great Moravian Empire Svatopluk at Bratislava Castle.[38]

Demographic evolution

The ethnic makeup of the town's population during the last two centuries has been as follows:

  • 1850
Germans (75%), Slovaks (18%), Hungarians (7.5%) – Note: all population data before 1869 are not exact –
  • 1880
Germans (68%), Slovaks (8%), Hungarians (8%)
  • 1910
Germans (41.92%), Slovaks (14.92%), Hungarians (40.53%), of total population of 78,223 [4] Note: the period after 1848 was a period of strong magyarisation in the Kingdom of Hungary; immigration of Hungarians and magyarisation in Bratislava. Also note that in the same time, the municipal area around the city had a population composed of 63.29% Slovaks, 17.39% Germans, and 13.59% Hungarians, of 36,190 inhabitants total [5] The whole county to which the city belonged had a population of 389,750, including 166,017 Slovaks, 163,367 Hungarians, and 53,822 Germans. [6]
  • 1919 (August)
Germans (36%), Slovaks (33%), Hungarians (29%), other (1.7%) Note: the Anti-Hungarian sentiment after WWI.
  • 1930
Slovaks (33%), Germans (25%), Czechs (23%), Hungarians (16%), Jews (3.83%) Note: emigration of Hungarians and opportunist registering as Czechs or Slovaks; immigration of Czech civil servants and teachers; the Germans remained the biggest group in the part of the city known as Old Town; religious Jews made up 12%, so that most national Jews might have registered themselves as Slovaks or Germans
  • 1940
Slovaks (49%), Germans (20%), Hungarians (9.53%), Jews (8.78%)
  • 1961
Slovaks (95.15%), Czechs (4.61%), Hungarians (3.44%), Germans (0.52%), Jews (0%) Note: Germans were evacuated when the Red Army was approaching the town in 1945, Jews were eliminated during World War II or they moved thereafter
  • 1970
Slovaks (92%), Czechs (4.6%), Hungarians (3.4%), Germans (0.5%)
  • 1991
Slovaks (93.39%), Czechs (2.47%), Hungarians (4.6%), Germans (0.29%)
  • 2001
Slovaks (91.39%), Czechs and Moravians (2%), Hungarians (3.84%), Germans (0.28%)

City name history

Bratislava's names most of which were used before 1919
Name Language Cognate language Annotation
Preßburg German
Prešpork Slovak derived from German
Pressporek 1773 Slovak
Prešpurek Czech
Prešpurk German
Břetislav attributed to Pavel Jozef Šafárik, 1837.[39]
Bratislav Slovak attributed to Ľudovít Štúr.[39]
Pressburg English German Pressburg Street in southwestern London
Presburgo Spanish
Pressbourg later Presbourg French German rue de Presbourg in Paris
Presburg Dutch
Pozsony Hungarian still in use by Hungarians today
Posony 1773 Hungarian
Posonium Latin
Požun Croatian, Serbian, Bosnian
Pozhoma Romani
פרשבורג Yiddish
Istropolis Greek meaning the Danube City


The first written reference (as Brezalauspurc, another variant is Preslavaspurc) comes from the Salzburg Annals, in relation to the battles between the Bavarians and the Hungarians, fought outside the walls of Bratislava Castle in 907.[40] The castle was probably named after Predslav, third son of King Svätopluk I;[41] however, Brezalauspurc literally means "Braslav's Castle" and therefore the town was probably named after Braslav, the last military commander of Pannonia, a province in East Francia.[42] This ancient name reappears under the variant Braslava or Preslava on coins minted by King Stephen I of Hungary and dated around 1000,[43] with an inscription of "RESLAVVA CIV".[7] Later in the Middle Ages, it found its final form in the German name Pressburg and the Slovak name Prešporok derived from it.[35][43] Pressburg was used to refer to the city by most English-speaking writers until 1919,[44] and it is occasionally so used even today. The Hungarians used Pozsony[35] (spelled Posony before the 19th century) and it is still in use in Hungarian. The Latin name Posonium is derived from the Hungarian.[45] Its Hungarian and Latin denominations might have come from the Hungarian name Poson.[42] In addition to these names, Renaissance documents called the city Ιστρόπολις Istropolis, meaning "Danube City" in Ancient Greek (for example, see Universitas Istropolitana).

The current name, Bratislava, has its beginnings in 1837, when Slavist scholar Pavel Jozef Šafárik invented a variant of it (Břetislaw)[46] from old names, believing that they were derived from that of Bohemian ruler Bretislav I. The name was used for the first time by members of the Slovak movement in 1844 as Bratislav.[46] After World War I, it was proposed to rename the city in Czech Wilsonovo mesto Wilson City after American president Woodrow Wilson in late 1918/early 1919. The proposal was rejected, and the official name of the city was changed to Bratislava in March 1919, after the city became part of Czechoslovakia.

Older city name forms

  • 805 or 807 (recorded only in the 16th century): 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 recorded name by nearly contemporary source and found in the Salzburg Annals; this name literally means "Braslav's Castle", probably after Braslav of Pannonia who was a count appointed by King Arnulf of East Francia;[47] according to some sources the name originated from the name Braslava mentioned above, while newer sources claim that it derived from the name Predslav, the alleged third son of Svätopluk[48]
  • after 1001 (debated): (p)RESLAVVA CIV(itas)" or "(b)RESLAVVA CIV(itas)"[7]
  • 1002: Poson
  • 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 1163/1164: Posonium (Latin, origin like Poson above)
  • 1172 and 1194: Poson
  • 1189: Bosonium, Brezburc, Bosonium quod Prespurc teutonice nuncupatur, Brisburc, Posonium
  • 1197: Posony (Hungarian form)
  • 1217: Posonia

Notable historical figures

This is a comprehensive list of historical figures who were born and/or lived in or visited Bratislava.

  • Andrew III (see above 1291)
  • Ján Bahýľ (1866–1916) – Slovak inventor, mainly focusing on flying machines
  • Jozef Ignác Bajza (1755–1836) – see above, buried in the St. Martin's Cathedral in Pressburg
  • Matthias Bel (1674–1749) – Hungarian-Slovak scientist, teacher at the Evangelic Lutheran Lyceum (see above) for 35 years
  • Ján Levoslav Bella (1843–1936) – author of the first Slovak opera
  • Anton Bernolák (1762–1813) – author of the first Slovak language standard (see above)
  • Napoleon Bonaparte (see above 1805, 1809, 1811)
  • Matthias Corvinus (1443–1490) – king of Hungary, founded the Universitas Istropolitana, conferred many privileges to Pressburg
  • Alexander Dubček (1921–1992) – Slovak politician and statesman, who lived in Bratislava
  • Ernő Dohnányi (1877–1960) – also known as Ernst von Dohnányi, Hungarian composer, pianist, conductor, and educator born in Pressburg
  • János Fadrusz (1858–1903) – sculptor born in Pressburg; he erected the Maria Theresa statue located on the former Coronation Hill in 1897, which was later destroyed in 1921
  • Ferdinand V (see above 1848)
  • Joseph Haydn (1732–1809) – gave many performances in Pressburg
  • Johann Nepomuk Hummel (1778–1837) – a composer and virtuoso pianist born in Pressburg
  • Gustáv Husák (1913–1991) – Slovak politician and the last communist president of Czechoslovakia born in Pressburg
  • Janko Jesenský (1874–1945) – Slovak poet, writer and translator, who lived in Bratislava since 1929 and died there
  • Karl Jetting (1730–1790) – the "Robinson of Pressburg", born in Pressburg, was shipwrecked many times and was living on an isolated island
  • Wolfgang von Kempelen (1734–1804) – inventor, born in Pressburg
  • Eduard Nepomuk Kozics (1829–1874) – important photographer
  • Johann Sigismund Kusser (1660–1727) – founder of the Hamburg Opera, composer, born in Pressburg
  • Vladislaus II of Bohemia and Hungary of Jagiellon (1456–1516) – King of Bohemia and Hungary, spent most of his life in Pressburg
  • Philipp Lenard (1862–1949) – physicist and the winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1905, born and raised in Pressburg
  • Imi Lichtenfeld (1910–1998) – founder of the Israeli martial art Krav Maga, grew up in Pressburg / Bratislava
  • Franz Liszt (1811–1886) – Hungarian composer, who played many concerts in Pressburg and was fond of the town
  • Sigismund of Luxemburg (1368–1437) – Holy Roman Emperor, gave many important privileges to the town and had the Pressburg castle reconstructed
  • Rodion Malinovsky (1898–1967) – Soviet leader of the troops that liberated Bratislava in April 1945, see above
  • Franz Anton Maulbertsch (1724–1796) – Austrian painter working in Pressburg
  • Franz Xaver Messerschmidt (1736–1783) – sculptor, who lived and died in Pressburg
  • Samuel Mikoviny (1700–1750) – scientist and technician, founder of scientific cartography in Hungary, spent 10 years in Pressburg
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) – gave his only concert in Hungary in Pressburg
  • Jozef Murgaš (1864–1929) – Slovak inventor, architect, botanist, painter, patriot, and one of the founders of radiotelegraphy, studied in Presssburg
  • Oskar Nedbal (1874–1930) – composer and conductor, director of the Slovak National Theatre; (1923–1930) – conductor of the Bratislava Symphony Orchestra
  • Adam Friedrich Oeser (1717–1799) – painter and sculptor, studied in Pressburg
  • Ottakar II (see above 1271)
  • Paracelsus (1493–1541) – chemist, scientist and doctor, visited Pressburg in 1537)
  • Péter Pázmány (1570–1637) – archbishop of Esztergom, founded the University of Nagyszombat, built Jesuit colleges and schools in Pressburg
  • Sándor Petőfi (1823–1849) – important Hungarian poet, who often visited Pressburg
  • Ignatius Paul Pollaky (1828-1918) – private investigator/detective who moved to England in 1850 and became known as "Paddington" Pollaky - mentioned in Gilbert & Sullivan's "Patience" (Act 1).
  • Alajos Rigele (1879–1940) – sculptor, born in Presssburg and author of many sculptures in Pressburg
  • Johann Andreas Segner (1704–1777) – inventor of the (Segner wheel), doctor and professor, who was born and studied in Pressburg
  • Franz Schmidt (1874–1939) – composer and teacher, born in Pressburg
  • Ľudovít Štúr (1815–1856) – one of the most famous figures in modern Slovak history, leader of the Slovak national movement in the 19th century, creator of the present-day Slovak language standard (see above 1843), spent 20 years at the Evangelic Lutheran Lyceum (first as a student, then as a professor), deputy of the Hungarian diet in Pressburg, editor of the Slovak National Newspaper (Slovenskje národnje novini)
  • Maria Theresa of Austria (1717–1780) – Archduchess of Austria and Queen of Hungary and Bohemia, spent much of her time in the Pressburg Castle, had the Castle walls demolished and the Castle restored (see above)
  • Milan Rastislav Štefánik (1880–1919) – one of the most important figures in modern Slovak history, astronomer, Slovak general of the French army, one of the creators of Czechoslovakia, studied and died in Pressburg (Bratislava ), the official name of the Bratislava Airport is "Milan Rastislav Štefánik Airport"
  • Július Satinský (1941–2002) – famous Slovak and Czechoslovak actor, spent his whole life in Bratislava
  • Viktor Tilgner (1844–1896) – sculptor and professor in Vienna, born in Bratislava, many of his sculptures are in Pressburg (e.g., the Ganymedes Fountain and the Hummel Monument)
  • Jozef Tiso (1887–1947) – president of the first Slovak Republic
  • Rudolf Zahradník (born 1928) – important Czech chemist born in Bratislava
  • Ludwig Schwarz (born 1940) – an Austrian bishop born in Bratislava
  • Herta Däubler-Gmelin (born 1943) – German politician
  • Paul Wittich (1877–1957) – labour leader in Pressburg around the First World War

See also



  1. ^ "History – Celtic settlements". City of Bratislava. 2005. Retrieved 15 May 2007. 
  2. ^ Kováč et al., "Kronika Slovenska 1", p. 73
  3. ^ Kováč et al., "Kronika Slovenska 1", p. 94
  4. ^ Kováč et al., "Kronika Slovenska 1", p. 95
  5. ^ Špiesz, "Bratislava v stredoveku", p. 9
  6. ^ a b "History – Bratislava in the Middle Ages". City of Bratislava. 2005. Retrieved 15 May 2007. 
  7. ^ a b c Györffy, György (2000). István király és műve (King Stephen and his Work). Budapest: Balassi Kiadó. p. 340. 
  8. ^ Benda, Kálmán (editor) (1981). Magyarország történeti kronológiája ("The Historical Chronology of Hungary"). Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó. pp. 102, 108.  
  9. ^ Špiesz, "Bratislava v stredoveku", p. 43
  10. ^ Janota, "Bratislavské rarity", p. 61
  11. ^ Špiesz, "Bratislava v stredoveku", p. 132
  12. ^ Janota, "Bratislavské rarity", pp. 61–62
  13. ^ "Academia Istropolitana". City of Bratislava. 14 February 2005. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 25 April 2007. 
  14. ^ Lacika, "Bratislava", p. 62 (Slovak)
  15. ^ Lacika, "Bratislava", pp. 34–36 (Slovak)
  16. ^ Lacika, p. 62
  17. ^ "History – Maria Theresa's City". City of Bratislava. 2005. Retrieved 15 May 2007. 
  18. ^ Kováč et al., "Kronika Slovenska 1", p. 349
  19. ^ a b Erzsébet Varga, "Pozsony", p. 70 (Hungarian)
  20. ^ a b c Erzsébet Varga, "Pozsony", p. 14 (Hungarian)
  21. ^ Kováč et al., "Kronika Slovenska 1", p. 426 (Slovak)
  22. ^ Kováč et al., "Kronika Slovenska 1", p. 440 (Slovak)
  23. ^ Morton, Graeme; Robert John Morris; Boudien De Vries (2006). Civil society, associations, and urban places: Class, Nation and Culture in Nineteenth-Century. Aldershot: Ashgate.  
  24. ^ "BATTHYÁNY ÉS SZÉCHENYI POLITIKAI ÉRTÉKVILÁGÁNAK KÜLÖNBÖZŐSÉGEI A REFORMKORBAN, Szolnoki Tudományos Közlemények XI. Szolnok, 2007." (PDF). Dr. FÜLÖP TAMÁS (in Magyar). 2007. p. 5. Retrieved 5 August 2009. 
  25. ^ a b c d e Erzsébet Varga, "Pozsony", p. 15 (Hungarian)
  26. ^ Erzsébet Varga, "Pozsony", p. 16 (Hungarian)
  27. ^ a b Erzsébet Varga, "Pozsony", p. 71 (Hungarian)
  28. ^ Erzsébet Varga, "Pozsony", p. 76 (Hungarian)
  29. ^ "Más fizikai díjazottak". Oszk. n.d. Retrieved 22 September 2008. 
  30. ^ "Pioneers – 1905, May 5 : Jan Bahyl". Helicopter History Site. n.d. Retrieved 3 May 2007. 
  31. ^ Marcel Jankovics, "Húsz esztendő Pozsonyban", p. 65-67 (Hungarian)
  32. ^ " – Milan Rastislav Štefánik". n.d. Retrieved 5 March 2008. 
  33. ^ Lacika, "Bratislava", p. 43. Kováč et al., "Bratislava 1939–1945, pp. 174–177
  34. ^ Kováč et al., "Kronika Slovenska 2", pp. 307–308
  35. ^ a b c Peter Salner (2001). "Ethnic polarisation in an ethnically homogeneous town" (PDF). Czech Sociological Review 9 (2): 235–246. 
  36. ^ "Transindex" (in Hungarian). n.d. Retrieved 23 March 2008. 
  37. ^ Dunabogdány honlapja
  38. ^
  39. ^ a b Lacika, p. 6
  40. ^ Janota, "Bratislavské rarity", p. 152; "Historical calendar". City of Bratislava. 2005. Retrieved 3 August 2007. 
  41. ^ Lacika, "Bratislava", p. 6; Janota, "Bratislavské rarity", p. 154
  42. ^ a b Kristó, Gyula (editor) (1994). Korai Magyar Történeti Lexikon (9–14. század) (Encyclopedia of the Early Hungarian History (9th–14th centuries)). Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó. pp. 128, 553.  
  43. ^ a b Zuzana Habšudová (2001). "Historical melting pot of cultures". The Slovak Spectator. Retrieved 1 May 2007. 
  44. ^ "Pressburg". Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition. 1911. Retrieved 13 June 2007. 
  45. ^ Janota, "Bratislavské rarity", p. 155
  46. ^ a b Lacika, "Bratislava", p. 6
  47. ^ Kristó, Gyula (editor) (1993). A Kárpát-medence és a magyarság régmultja (1301-ig). Szeged: Szegedi Középkorász Műhely.  
  48. ^ 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.


  • Horváth, V., Lehotská, D., Pleva, J. (eds.); et al. (1979). Dejiny Bratislavy (History of Bratislava) (in Slovak) (2nd ed.). Bratislava: Obzor, n.p. 
  • Kováč, Dušan; et al. (1998). Kronika Slovenska 1 (Chronicle of Slovakia 1). Chronicle of Slovakia (in Slovak) (1st ed.). Bratislava: FortunaPrint.  
  • Kováč, Dušan; et al. (1999). Kronika Slovenska 2 (Chronicle of Slovakia 2). Chronicle of Slovakia (in Slovak) (1st ed.). Bratislava, Slovakia: Fortuna Print.  
  • Lacika, Ján (2000). Bratislava. Visiting Slovakia (1st ed.). Bratislava: DAJAMA.  
  • Lacika, Ján (2000). Bratislava. Poznávame Slovensko (in Slovak) (1st ed.). Bratislava, Slovakia: DAJAMA.  
  • Mencl, Václav and Dobroslava (1936). Bratislava: Stavební obraz města a hradu (in Czech). Prague: Jan Štenc. 
  • Ševčiková, Zuzana (1974). Mestské opevnenie Bratislavy (City Fortifications of Bratislava) (in Slovak, with summaries in English, and German and Russian). Bratislava: Obzor, n.p. 
  • Špiesz, Anton (2001). Bratislava v stredoveku (Bratislava in the Middle Ages) (in Slovak) (1st ed.). Bratislava: Perfekt.  
  • Janota, Igor (2006). Bratislavské rarity (in Slovak) (1st ed.). Bratislava: Vydavateľstvo PT.  
  • Jankovics, Marcell (2000). Húsz esztendő Pozsonyban (Twenty years in Bratislava) (in Hungarian) (2nd ed.). Bratislava: Méry Ratio.  
  • Varga, Erzsébet (1995). Pozsony (in Hungarian) (1st ed.). Bratislava: Madách-Posonium.  

External links

  • The Story of the Jewish Community in Bratislava An online exhibition by Yad Vashem
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