Bratislava is the world’s only capital city to border three countries: Slovakia, Austria and Hungary. Its area and population make it the capital as well as the largest city in Slovakia. The city has 430 000 residents, plus many commuters from surrounding towns and villages. Bratislava is 65 km from Vienna, 200 km from Budapest, and 330 km from Prague.
The Danube flows through the city – which also connects Bratislava with the capital cities of Austria and Hungary. Bratislava Castle – the city’s main landmark – commands a strategic hilltop position overlooking the river’s left bank.
A place in history
Bratislava’s strategic position on the Danube allowed it to develop into a major city of trade and craft. The first settlement dates to the Neolithic Age, and its permanent habitation can be traced to the 2nd century BC when there Celts established a fortified base. In the 16th century it became the capital city and coronation place of the Kingdom of Hungary, and the official residence of the king and archbishop. At St. Martin’s Cathedral, eleven kings and seven queens of the House of Habsburg were crowned. The city experienced its greatest boom during the reign of Maria Theresa.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Joseph Haydn, Anton Grigorievich Rubinstein and Franz Liszt are among the composers to have called Bratislava home. Heritage plaques around the Old Town commemorate these world-famous virtuosos’ time in the capital city.
The city has numerous wonderful historical buildings and sights, including:
- St. Martin’s Cathedral – a 15th century Gothic church and former coronation hall
- Michael’s Gate – sole remaining entry point of the city’s 14th century fortifications
- President’s Palace – a stunning 18th century Rococo summer palace
- Devin Castle – picturesque ruins at the confluence of the Danube and Morava
- Slavin – largest war memorial in Central Europe with the graves of 6845 Soviet Army soldiers killed while liberating Bratislava during WW2
Bratislava has over 40 fascinating museums. The Museum of City History in the Old Town Hall and the Historical Museum at Bratislava Castle and Devin Castle reveal the city’s rich history, the life of its residents, and display valuable artefacts. The city offers visitors expositions as well as history. The Slovak National Museum – on the Danube embankment – houses the Natural History Museum. The Archaeological Museum, as well as smaller museums of music, weapons, clocks and pharmacy, also offer intriguing insights into the past.
For art lovers, there are visiting and permanent exhibitions at the City Gallery of Bratislava and the Slovak National Gallery. Of particular note is Galeria Nedbalka that immerses visitors into Slovak modernism, and of the newest museums – the Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum with unique contemporary art and stunning architecture.
Bratislava also has a rich tapestry of theatres. From professional to amateur, large stage to fringe and improv. Check out the historic Slovak National Theatre for an unforgettable evening of ballet, opera or theatre.
The Slovak Philharmonic has become synonymous with the highest-quality classical music in the capital, there you’ll enjoy memorable concerts by the symphony orchestra and chamber music.
- Climate: moderate continental climate with warm summers (average daily temperature 21°C in July and August with highs up to 38°C) and cold winters (average daily temperature -1°C in December and January with lows to -20°C). In spring and autumn the temperature is between 10 to 16°C with potential frequent rainfall.
- Time zone: Central European (UTC + 1)
- Official language: Slovak
- Currency: the euro (€), foreign currency exchange is recommended only at official exchanges available at banks, numerous supermarkets and directly in hotels
- Gratuities: tipping is usually rounded up to about 10% of the total. The amount depends on your satisfaction with the service – if dissatisfied then you needn’t tip at all.
For more information about events in Bratislava, check out: https://www.visitbratislava.com/.