|Nickname(s): Beauty on the Danube, Little Big City|
|- City||367.584 km2 (141.9 sq mi)|
|- Metro||2,053 km2 (792.7 sq mi)|
|- Density||3,283/km2 (8,502.9/sq mi)|
Bratislava (Austrian/German: Pressburg; Hungarian: Pozsony) is the capital of Slovakia. In 1905 it had a population of 61,500 inhabitants, 32,600 of whom were Austrians. Today it has a much greater population, of 425,000, and is the country's largest city. Bratislava is beautifully situated on the spurs of the Little Carpathians in south-west Slovakia on both banks of the Danube River. Bordering Austria and Hungary, it is the only national capital that borders two other countries. Prior to losing Austro-Hungarian sovereignty it consisted of the inner town, or Altstadt, the Ferdinandstadt and Neustadt on the north, the Franz-Josef-Stadt on the Danube, and the Theresienstadt to the west. These have been renamed by the Slovaks, plus addition suburbs were constructed during the communist period (1945-1992).
The history of the city, known by the German name Pressburg (road signs in Vienna still point to Pressburg), into the 20th century, has been strongly influenced by various peoples, including Austrians, Czechs, Germans, Hungarians, and Slovaks. In the 10th century it became part of Hungary, was a key economic and administrative centre and was its capital under the Habsburg monarchy from 1536 to 1783, where the Habsburgs were crowned. In 1919 it became part of the new artificial state of Czecho-Slovakia. Pressburg was renamed Bratislava. The city was home to the small Slovak national movement of the 19th century and to many Slovak historical figures, including Milan Rastislav Štefánik and Alexander Dubček.
The Peace of Pressburg
The Peace of Pressburg (also known as the Treaty of Pressburg; German: Preßburger Frieden; French: Traité de Presbourg) was signed on 26 December 1805 between Napoleon and the Enperor Francis II as a consequence of the Austrian defeats by France at Ulm (25 September – 20 October) and Austerlitz (2 December). A truce was agreed on December 4 and negotiations for the treaty began. The treaty was signed in Pressburg by Johann I Josef, Prince of Liechtenstein and the Hungarian Count Ignaz Gyulai for Austria, and Charles Maurice de Talleyrand for France. (It is also sometimes known as the Fourth Peace of Pressburg).
High (272 feet) above the Danube stands the famous castle, or Royal Palace, which can be seen from miles around. It was burnt out in 1811 and damaged during World War II but has since been rebuilt/restored. In the centre of the Aldstadt is the Rathaus (Town Hall), begun in 1288 and frequently altered. The Column of the Virgin in front of the contiguous Jesuit church, was erected by Emperor Leopold I in 1672. In Batthyány Platz, behind the Rathaus, is the Primatial-Gebaude, erected in 1781. To the north of the Rathaus is the Franciscan church, founded in 1272 and afterwards altered (the tower was rebuilt in 1897). On the north side is the Gothic Chapel of St.John, with a double crypt. In the Landhaus, erected in 1783, the Hungarian Diets were held from 1802-1848, It later became a courthouse. near it stood the Grassalkowich Palace, until the end of The Great War the residence of the aged but energetic Archduke Frederick.
The Gothic Cathedral of St.Martin, formerly the coronation church, was begun in 1204, completed in 1445, and restored in 1861-80. The tower is surmounted by a pyramid bearing a gilded Hungarian Royal Crown. The late-Gothic Chapel of St.Anna, in the north aisle, dates from the 14th century. the Chapel of St.Eleemosinarius was built and decorated by Rafael Donner, who also executed the leaden equestrian statue of St.Martin, in Hungarian costume, outside the choir (1734).
In the centre of the Altstadt in what was formerly called the Kossuth Platz is the Theatre, built in 1886 by Fellner and Hellmer (also responsible for the Opera House in Lemberg). In front of it stood a bust, by the sculptor Tilgner, of the composer Hummel, who was born in the city in 1778.
To the south on the Danube once stood the Monument of Maria-Theresa by the sculptor Fadrusz (1897). The Empress was on horseback, flanked by a Hungarian magnate and a Kurutz; on the pedestal, the inscription vitam et sanguinem.
Bratislava is the political, cultural, and economic centre of Slovakia. It is the seat of the Slovak presidency, the parliament, and the government, and is home to several universities, museums, theatres, galleries and other important economic, cultural, and educational institutions. The headquarters of many of Slovakia's large businesses and financial institutions are in Bratislava. Fast trains to Vienna leave here and there is an International Airport.
- Baedeker, Karl, Austria-Hungary, Leipzig and London, 10th edition, 1905, pps: 322-324.