Bratislava (Hungarian: Pozsony, German: Pressburg), currently the capital of Slovakia and the country's largest city, has existed for about a thousand years. Due to the city's strategic geographical location, it was an important European hub due to its proximity to the advanced cultures of the Mediterranean and the Orient as well as its link to the rest of Europe, which were possible by the Danube River.
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 to 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 during the Neolithic period. However, during the Early Stone Age there was already a settlement in the general area. But this was not within the present territory of the city. 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 castle one finds important clues to the final period of the Bronze Age (Podoli Culture), when a fortified settlement arose on the strategic place: rock-cliff over river Morava joining river Danube.
Early Iron Age brought a shift of the settlement centre again to the area of today's historical centre and castle of Bratislava. This period is considered an epilogue to the Central European pre-history and this is attributed to the migration of the Thracian tribes, which brought with them their version of the Hellenic civilization. Many archaeological 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 and that the richly furnished mounds (barrows) excavated on eastern suburbs of the city were said to be burial grounds of princes.
La Tène period is defined as from 450 BC to 50 BC. Celts (more exactly the tribe of Boii) formed between 125-50 BC an important Celtic oppidum (fortified town) with a mint on the area of the castle hill and the historical centre. There is an acropolis on the castle hill and some settlements below (crafts) and around it (farming). Bratislava then became a genuine town for the first time in history (it will become a de facto town again in the 9th century AD and then again in the 11th century). The most notable finds are represented by silver coins, bearing inscriptions (biatecs in most cases). Biatec may have been the name of the local prince who organized the minting or the name of the place itself. After the bloody defeat at the hands of Dacian forces under the leadership of King Burebista (shortly after the middle of the 1st century BC) the remaining Celts retreated to the site of Devín, creating a smaller, more easily protected hill-fort settlement. The arrival of Germans from the west forced the rest of the Celts to seek protection under the Romans on the other (right) side of Danube.
From the 1st to 4th centuries the border of the Roman Empire (Limes Romanus) ran along the Danube. 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. There is, for example, the case of the Devín Castle, which historical records such as the Chronicle of Fulda, alluded to as the impregnable Roman military garrison called Dowina. Traces of Roman presence also include Stupava, a trading station and Dúbravka, which is known for the remains of Roman baths (attempt to build Villa Rustica?).
The Slavs arrived in the area between the 5th and 6th centuries during the Migration Period (375-568). Recently, archaeologist found a carbonized loaf of bread at Devin and its age was estimated to be older than the Slavic settlement but still fell within the period of the migration of nations.
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. From the 8th century until 907 the Pressburg fortress as well as the Dowina (Devín) Castle are important centres of the Principality of Nitra.
In 864 the first written reference to the Devín Castle (Dowina) appears in the Fuldish Annals. It is known that the name came from one of King Saint Stephen's great commander Poson, Pressburg was its German name and Presporok its Slovak. 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) appears in 1837 by J. Safarik Slovak historian. The Bavarians are totally defeated by the Magyars; as a result, the Frankish East March ceases and is occupied by the Magyars (907-955). 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 Pozsony Castle (first written reference in 1151) and becomes an important centre in the early 13th century. Further settlements in the surroundings follow. 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 and it becomes. 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".
In 1030 the Czech duke B?etislav I, participating in a campaign of the German emperor Konrad II against Hungary, devastates present-day western Slovakia and undertakes an attack against the Pozsony castle but is defeated by the Hungarian king. 12 years later B?etislav I and the troops of the German king Henry III temporarily conquer Pozsony. Henry undertakes a new invasion in 1043.
In 1052 German king Henry III besieges Pozsony 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 Pozsony 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 Pozsony/Pressburg castle. In 1109 a new attack of[clarification needed] 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 Pressburg Castle in 1146. The Hungarian king has to buy it back. The Hungarian king Stephen III is living in Pozsony 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 Pozsony castle in 1189.
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 nobleman 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 nobleman Matthew III Csák of Tren?ín, who was the leader of Pozsony and Tren?ín counties at that time and Pozsony 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. Earlier town privileges are not known, but probable, because Pressburg 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. Not only Pressburg 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 Pressburg 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 Pressburg was built in 1434, but it was destroyed by floods next year. 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 Pressburg the right to use its own coat of arms 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 Pozsony, being washed away by flood in 1486. Between 1440 and 1443 there was a fighting between the castle of Pozsony, supporting king Ladislaus III of Poland, and the actual town of Pozsony 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 Pozsony was the seat of the first university in present-day Slovakia, the Universitas Istropolitana (often wrongly called Academia Istropolitana). From 1490 to 1526 Pressburg 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 Pressburg 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 Pressburg as a protection against the Turks planning to attack Vienna. Pressburg is temporarily turned to a military camp. The Turks, seeing the military force in Pressburg, decide to attack Vienna from the south. In this period the city became a safe haven for the Saint Crown of the Kingdom of Hungary, kepts safe from Turkish and Habsburg hands.
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. During Maria Theresa's 40-year reign, Bratislava - along with the rest of her empire - enjoyed sustained economic and social growth.
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).
In 1606 (within the Stephen Bocskay Uprising) Bocskay troops occupy the surroundings of Pressburg. Bethlen conquers Pressburg 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 Pressburg 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 Pozsony 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 Pressburg 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 Pressburg becomes the largest and most important town on the territory of present-day Slovakia and Hungary.
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.
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. 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. Magyar hírmondó was first published in 1 January 1780.[circular reference]
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 Pressburg 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. The number of inhabitants decreases and the economic situation of the town deteriorates until 1811. From now on Pressburg 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.
From 1784 to 1800, the General Seminary (a school for Catholic clergy) was based in Pressburg Castle. One of the notable students at this time was Anton Bernolák, who published in 1787 the first Slovak language standard. Another educational institution in Pressburg was the Royal Academy, which moved to the city from Trnava in 1787. In 1803, a separate "Department of Czechoslovak Speech and Literature" was created (from the Institute of Czechoslovak Speech and Literature founded in 1801) at the Lutheran Lyceum.
Pressburg also played a role in early 19th-century European politics. In 1805, the fourth and best-known Treaty of Pressburg was signed by Austria and France after Napoleon I's victory in the Battle of Austerlitz. Four years later, Napoleon's army besieged and bombarded the city and Napoleon himself visited Pressburg. The Dévény Castle was turned into a ruin by the French troops in 1809 and Pressburg Castle was inadvertently destroyed by fire in 1811 (remaining in ruins until the 1950s).
In 1820, the 9-year-old Franz Liszt played in De Pauli's Palace. Five years later, István Széchenyi offered his yearly income to establish the Hungarian National Learned Society (now the Hungarian Academy of Sciences) in Pozsony. In 1829, the "Czech-Slav Society" (also called the Society for the Czechoslovak Language and Literature) was created by students of the Lutheran Lyceum, which later became an important association in the Slovak national movement. ?udovít ?túr also began studying at the Lyceum during this period, spending 20 years there. In 1843 he codified the present-day Slovak language standard. The industrialisation of the town began with regular steamship transport on the Danube in 1830. Ten years later the first (horse-)railway line in Hungary and present-day Slovakia was built from Pressburg to the town of Svätý Jur, north of Bratislava. Later, it extended to Trnava and Sere? (1846).
In 1905 Philipp Lenard, the Hungarian-German physicist and winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics for his research on cathode rays and the discovery of many of their properties, visited Pressburg., In the same year, Ján Bahý?, a Slovak inventor, flew his petrol-engine helicopter in Pressburg, reaching a height of 4 metres for more than 1500 m. As the Habsburg Empire disintegrated, the new state of Czechoslovakia was declared on 28 October 1918 in Prague. The leaders of Pressburg (where the majority of the population was German, the second biggest group was Hungarian) wanted to prevent Pozsony from becoming part of Czechoslovakia and declared the town a free town, renaming it Wilsonovo mesto (Wilson City) after the then President of the US, Woodrow Wilson. However, the city became part of Czechoslovakia after it was taken by the Czechoslovak Legions on 1 January 1919 (though only the left river bank; the right river bank, did not belong to Pressburg yet, was occupied only on 14 August while Budapest was occupied by the Romanian army). It was chosen as the seat of the Slovakian political organs over Martin and Nitra. The (Hungarian) Elisabeth University was originally based here, before becoming the Slovak Comenius University after the Czechoslovakian state requisitioned it on 6 January. The entire teaching staff were arrested on 28 January, because they rejected the invitation from the new Czechoslovakian government's unification celebrations. The government moved to the city on 4-5 February. On 12 February, the German and Hungarian population, who made out more 80% of the city, demonstrated against the Czechoslovak occupation in Vásár square (now SNP Square). The Czechoslovak troops opened fire, shooting at the demonstrators, leaving 9 people dead and 23 wounded. On 27 March, the town's official new name became "Bratislava" - instead of "Pre?porok" (Slovak) / "Pressburg" (German) / "Pozsony" (Hungarian).
On 4 May Milan Rastislav ?tefánik, the French-Slovak general died in an airplane crash near Bratislava (/Pressburg). On 26-27 October 1921, the statue of Maria Theresa, the Austrian Empress, was destroyed by Slovakian nationalists and the members of the Sokol Movement.
Between 1928 and 1930 the Hotel Carlton was built in the place of Hotel Zöldfa, on Séta square (now Hviezdoslavovo square). Hotel Zöldfa included Lajos Kossuth, Franz Joseph I., Alfred Nobel, and Albert Einstein amongst its guests. The 1930 census shows that the Hungarian population decreased to under 20% of the city, and resulted in Hungarian language signs being removed. Between 1938 (October) - 1939 (March), Bratislava became the seat of government of the autonomous Slovakia within Czechoslovakia (see e.g. Jozef Tiso). Between 1938 (November) - 1945, the future Petr?alka 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. By 1945, most of the city's approximately 15,000 Jews were expelled and sent to 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.
After the war, most of the Germans were expelled (although some Germans had already been evacuated by German authorities). In 1946, Jews living in the city were attacked during the Partisan Congress riots.
In 1946, the city incorporated the neighbouring villages of Devín, Dúbravka, Lama?, Petr?alka, Prievoz (now part of Ru?inov), Ra?a, 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 ?unovo 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, ?unovo, Devínska Nová Ves, Záhorská Bystrica, Vraku?a 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.
In November 1989 the city became one of the centres of the Velvet Revolution; Alexander Dub?ek 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" (Verejnos? proti násiliu, VPN) is created on 21 November.
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.
|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||George W. Bush and 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.|
The ethnic makeup of the town's population during the last two centuries has been as follows:
This is a comprehensive list of historical figures who were born and/or lived in or visited Bratislava.