Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia. It is the largest Slovak city, located in the western part of the country. The western and southern city borders are also the state border: only 4 km separate Bratislava from Austria and 13 km from Hungary. The Danube River divides the city into two parts. The historical sites have survived only in the central districts, which can be bypassed on foot in about 2 hours. The suburbs are of no interest: there are industrial enterprises and “dormitory districts”. The historic buildings outside the historic center of the city are no longer there – they were all destroyed during World War II. The architecture is mostly Stalinist and panel-block architecture.
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The historic center of Bratislava is incredibly beautiful. It’s no wonder as Bratislava, founded over a thousand years ago, was for 300 years the capital of the mighty Hungarian kingdom, and the coronation place for kings and emperors of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1805, Napoleon signed the peace treaty with Franz I here.
On the hill at the confluence of the Morava and the Danube, the Gothic ruins of Devín Castle, 400 years the outpost of the Roman Empire, stand.
The castle was the germ of the future capital of old Hungary. Its advantageous location on the banks of the Danube and under the slopes of the Little Carpathian Mountains predestined it to an outstanding task.
A city of German, Italian, Jewish and other descent began to develop with trade. Arab merchants also came here. Hungarian King Ondrej II in 1291 issued a decree confirming the rights of the inhabitants, which they previously had, but their documents were lost. He and many subsequent monarchs further enriched the inhabitants with these privileges of the city.
At the beginning of the XV century the castle was reconstructed: its walls were strengthened and a new palace was built as a representative royal residence. The castle became the true residence not only for the monarch, but the entire royal family in the XVI century after 1526, when the Turks defeated the Christian armies and captured a large part of the Hungarian state. The castle continued as a residence until the end of the 18th century.
Devin Castle Old Town
In 1811 the castle by a fateful accident burned down and remained a ruin until the 50s of the 20th century.
From 1563 to 1830, the town was the coronation site of Hungarian kings. During this period, 10 kings, the reigning queen Maria Theresia and 8 royal wives were crowned in the sacred church of St. Martin. At the same time, printed news about the crowning of individuals also began to appear.
Sunset over Bratislava
The first public park was opened in 1775 under the name of Sternallee on the south bank of the Danube, at the site of present-day Janká Král’s Garden.
The Old Radnica on the Main Square in Bratislava was built in the other half of the 14th century. In the 20s of the 15th century, the building was bought by the city, and since 1868 it has been the city museum.
Today’s Presidential Palace was built in the 1860s as a summer residence for Count Anton Grassalkovich.
The first telephone appeared in the city in 1877
The charming atmosphere of the old center is complemented by many famous historical, cultural and architectural monuments, which can be seen during a walk through the streets of Bratislava. In between are the city’s palaces, most of which were built in the 18th century during the reign of Maria Theresia (1740-1780). At that time Bratislava with its population of 33 thousand people was the biggest city of Hungary.
Chumil – monument to the plumber Bratislava Castle
The intensive economic, social and cultural development of the city and the concentration of royal court and nobility life in Bratislava encouraged the construction of new town palaces.
As in Vienna, Bratislava saw the emergence of several town palaces within the old town and several palaces outside the outer ward. City palaces were usually built on two or three sites that arose after the demolition of the old burgher houses. They were usually four-sided buildings with an inner yard. The first floor contained the manager’s room, kitchen, storage rooms and rooms for carriage house. The second floor was occupied by the families of the nobility and had reception rooms. On the next floor were rooms for guests and servants.
The architecture of the palaces of the aristocrats emphasized the social status of their owners.
Very interesting modern sculptures of citizens engaged in their daily business, organically fit into the urban landscape.
Video: Active leisure in Bratislava
Shopping and Souvenirs
The food market is located on the corner of Hviezdoslavovo square and Rybarska Brana street and is open daily from 9-00 to 22-00. There you can try different national cuisines, order spaghetti or pizza in the neighboring restaurant.
The center of Bratislava – Stare Mesto is a pedestrian area. The dominant feature of the old Bratislava is the castle hill rising on one of the narrow stretches of the Danube, where the trade routes connecting the Adriatic and the Baltic – the Amber and the Podunai – crossed.
From the railway station to the center you can walk along Šankova Street, then turn off at Stefanikova Street. The whole way takes about 40 minutes. From the bus station go to the center and street Mlinske Niwa, which turns into Dunajská street.
City public transport
The public transport system includes buses, streetcars and trolleybuses. Tickets are available for 24 hours, 48 hours and one week. You can buy them from vending machines at the bus stop and stamp them on the inside. The ticket machines are located in the underground passage under the Hodžovo square or in the ticket office at the train station.
Night Bratislava City Tram
Traditional Slovak souvenirs are items made of leather and wood, as well as ceramics, porcelain, glass, embroidery and lace. You can buy them in the stores and souvenir shops in the city center. But beware: the closer the store is to the “tourist trails”, the higher the prices. Try turning in a less bustling quarter: you might find the item you like is much cheaper.
Galéria Spirit Hotel
Where to Stay
It’s easy to find accommodation in Bratislava: travelers can choose from luxurious 5-star hotels, including designer boutique hotels, to budget hostels. Almost all hotels are within walking distance of the city’s main attractions. Another option is to stay near Bratislava, in the charming and tranquil Smrdáky resort, to combine a relaxing vacation with a trip to the capital.
Here is a selection of hotels from hotellook
How to get there
Planes go to the local Miroslav Štefánik Airport by direct flight from Moscow four times a week. Bratislava can also be reached by “air” from Prague or Vienna. Then from the airport to the city center you can take a cab or a bus, tickets for which can be purchased at bus stops or in special vending machines.
From Russia you can get to Bratislava by train, which goes to the major European capitals: for example, “Moscow – Budapest” with a stop in Bratislava. Tickets for these trains can be purchased on the website of Russian Railways.
You can also reach the capital of Slovakia by a developed water transport as routes to Budapest and Vienna are arranged through the river port of Bratislava.
Bratislava (Slovakia) – the most detailed information about the city with photos. The main attractions of Bratislava with descriptions, guides and maps.
City of Bratislava (Slovakia)
Bratislava is the capital and largest city of Slovakia. It is a place rich in thousands of years of history and offers the splendid old charm and coziness of a small but dynamic city center. Bratislava has a beautiful old town with narrow winding streets and a pleasant medieval atmosphere, numerous historic churches and a picturesque hilltop castle next to the mighty Danube River. It is an excellent tourist destination, which has many reasons not only to visit it, but also to come back again.
The capital of Slovakia has a unique location. The city borders Austria and Hungary, being only 55 km from the other capital – Vienna.
What to do (Bratislava):
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An easy, fun, and informative sightseeing tour of the Slovak capital
Geography and climate
Bratislava is located in the extreme southwest of Slovakia at the foot of the Little Carpathian Mountains. The city lies on both banks of the Danube River, as well as on the left bank of the Morava River. The Slovak capital is surrounded by charming villages, vineyards and agricultural land. Bratislava has a moderate continental climate with warm (slightly rainy) summers and cool winters.
Danube in Bratislava
- Population – more than 420 thousand people.
- Area – 368 km².
- Language: Slovak.
- Currency – euro.
- Visa – Schengen.
- Time – Central European (UTC +1, in summer +2).
- Restaurants and cafes have the greatest concentration in the old town. Also for lunch or dinner you can walk to the Danube promenade, where there are many such establishments. If you do not fall into the tourist trap, the prices of food in Bratislava are very reasonable.
- Bratislava, in general, is very safe by Western standards. The capital of Slovakia is small and has a low crime rate. Therefore, even walking around the city at night does not pose any threat.
Best time to visit
Bratislava can be visited all year round, but the best time would be from May to September.
As early as the 5th century BC a Celtic settlement was founded on the Castle Hill, which was destroyed in 50 BC by the Dacians. Then Germanic tribes began to infiltrate here. In the 1st century BC on the site of modern Bratislava was founded by the Roman settlement Gerulata, abandoned by the Romans three centuries later. In the 5th century the Slavs came to this land. From 623 to 907 Bratislava was part of the principalities of Samo and Nitra, as well as the Slavic state of Great Moravia.
It is interesting that during its centuries-long history the Slovak capital has changed many names – Prešporok (until 1919), Presburg (German), Požonj (Hungarian), Istropolis (in the Middle Ages).
The first mention of Bratislava dates back to 907 and is reflected in the chronicles of Salzburg. From 907 to 1918 the city was part of Hungary. Bratislava received city rights in 1291, becoming a free royal city. In the 14th and 15th centuries, the future capital of Slovakia saw a boom associated with the development of trade and crafts.
In 1536 Bratislava was proclaimed the capital of Hungary. In fact, it had that status until 1830. The prosperity of Bratislava was interrupted in the 16th and 17th centuries. The reason for that was the wars with the Ottoman Empire. Then the importance of Bratislava increased in the 18th century during the reign of Maria Theresa.
In the 19th century Bratislava became the cradle of Slovak national revival. In 1918 it became part of Czechoslovakia, and since 1993 it has been the capital, cultural and political center of independent Slovakia.
How to get there
Bratislava International Airport has regular flights to Great Britain, Belgium, Italy, Spain and France. There are also regular flights to Prague, Copenhagen, Oslo, Split, Zadar, Rijeka, Kiev, and Moscow.
Vienna Airport is much larger and is located only 40 km from the Slovak capital, maintaining regular flights to almost all major cities in Europe.
Most international trains stop at the main railway station. There are trains to Bratislava from Vienna, Budapest, Prague, Berlin, Warsaw, Kiev, Minsk, and Moscow. You can get to the capital of Slovakia by bus from most European capitals, including London and Paris.
Bratislava public transport is represented by streetcars, trolleybuses and buses. Important – tickets for public transport should be purchased in advance (usually in special machines at stops). Drivers (even buses) do not sell tickets.
Shopping centers in Bratislava:
- Aupark – located on the Petřalka side of the Danube.
- Polus City Center – located in the northeastern part of the city.
- Avion Shopping Park – located near the airport and the freeway.
- Shopping Palace Zlaté Piesky – located in the northeastern part of the city.
- Eurovea – located right by the Danube.
- Central – located in the Nove Mesto area.
- Bory Mall – located on the west side of town.
Bratislava has a small and compact old town that has been completely renovated in the last decade, while retaining its charm and historical heritage. The most popular part of the Slovak capital, where almost all historical and cultural monuments are located, is Stare Mesto. It is an area of narrow old streets and an ideal place for leisurely strolls.
Bratislava Castle is a symbol and the most famous landmark of Bratislava. It is a magnificent historical monument that overlooks the capital of Slovakia for the past thousand years. The first fortifications on the site of the present-day castle date back to prehistoric times and were built by the Celts. The fortress was founded by the Slavs in the time of Moravia. A stone palace and a church were built on the castle hill in the 11th century. Three centuries later the castle was rebuilt in Gothic style. In the 16th-17th century, after the rebuilding, the structure acquired modern features (Renaissance and Baroque style).
The cost of a visit to Bratislava Castle is 10 €.
Old Town Hall
The Old Town Hall is a historic building whose origins go back to the 13th century. It was built in the Neo-Gothic style on the foundations of an early Romanesque house. In 1581 a Renaissance arcade was added to the building. Now in the walls of the town hall is located the city museum.
The cost of a visit is 5 €. Town Hall Museum is open from 10.00 to 17.00, except Mondays.
St. Michael’s Gate
St. Michael’s Gate is the only surviving gate of the medieval fortification system, which dates back to the 14th century. The roof of the original Gothic tower was rebuilt in the Baroque style between 1753 and 1758. At the top is a statue of the archangel Michael slaying the dragon. At a height of 51 meters there is an observation terrace.
The Archbishop’s Palace (Primatial Palace) is a magnificent building in the style of classicism built in the 18th century. It is considered one of the most beautiful palaces in Slovakia. There is a gallery with a unique collection of six English tapestries from the 17th century.
Hrašalkovič Palace is a Rococo summer palace, built in 1760 for Maria Theresia’s advisor. Nowadays it is a residence of the president of Slovakia.
The UFO is a unique observation deck on the piers of the SNP bridge at a height of 95 meters with a stunning view of the city.
Sacral architecture of Bratislava
St. Martin’s Cathedral
St. Martin’s Cathedral is a three-nave Gothic church from the 15th century built on the site of an older Romanesque structure. After 1291, the cathedral was rebuilt to become part of the city wall. The tower of the church became a defensive bastion. Between 1563 and 1830, St. Martin’s Cathedral served as a coronation site for Hungarian kings.
The Blue Church (St. Elizabeth) is a magnificent example of Art Nouveau architecture. This striking religious structure was built in the early 20th century and has an unusual colorful façade.
Clarisok Church is a Gothic church from the 13th century that was part of the medieval buildings that form a monastery in the old city of Bratislava. The klarisok monastery was dissolved at the end of the 18th century. Now the church, which is a striking example of Gothic architecture, is used for various cultural events.
Church of the Capuchins
The Church of the Capuchins (St. Stephen) is a neo-Romanesque and Baroque church built in the 18th century. In front of the building is a Marian (plague) column from 1723.
Bratislava: get to know and love
A friendly stroll through the iconic sites of the small but regal capital
€72 per tour
Old Legends of Bratislava
See the features of old Pressburg in the city’s appearance and delve into the dark stories of the past