Pozsony, Pressburg, Bratislava… a city of many names. NM, TN, MD, two of MD’s college friends and I spent a sunny Sunday exploring Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. It is only about 80 km from Vienna across the Danube River. It’s a very walkable city – we took a train and were able to see the Bratislava castle and the Old Town without taking public transportation. Bratislava has the distinction as the only national capital that borders two independent countries: Hungary and Austria.
The city has only been known as Bratislava since 1919; before that time, it was known as Pressburg, its German name or Pozsony, its Hungarian variant.
The area now known as Slovakia was settled by the Romans from the first century AD until the fall of Rome, then the Slavs in the 5th and 6th centuries. It was part of Great Moravia, the first Slavonic major state to exist in central Europe in the years following the fall of Rome. The Bratislava Castle had an interesting exhibit on Great Moravia – there is a lot that we still don’t know about the settlements, but what we do know is pretty interesting. The artifacts on display included jewelry and other fine art from the Moravian peoples and examples of what homes would have looked like.
During the 10th century, Bratislava was annexed to the Kingdom of Hungary. The Ottoman Turks took over the surrounding area in the 16th century though did not conquer Bratislava itself, and it later became part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the 18th century. Bratislava was a popular place for Hungarian kings and queens to be crowned, including Maria Theresa who reigned for 40 years. She was evidently especially fond of Bratislava and did much to make it a grand European capital.
Bratislava remained part of the Austro-Hungarian empire until the end of World War I when it combined with the Czechs to form Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia was occupied by the Nazis during World War II and then was part of the Soviet Bloc until the fall of Communism in 1989. Slovakia and the Czech Republic peacefully separated in 1993 after what became known as the Velvet Revolution in 1989 (end of Communism in Czechoslovakia) and the Velvet Divorce in 1993 (separation of Czech Republic and Slovakia).
Check back tomorrow for more pictures of Bratislava Castle.
Title quote: “The more the better” in Slovak, appropriate for our large crew of folks wandering around Bratislava