A Short History of Bratislava

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Understanding the historical background to a destination is important and will help you to appreciate your surroundings.

Here is A Short History Of Bratislava…..

The Early Years

From the 1st to the 4th century AD, the region that is modern day Bratislava was under Roman rule.

In the 5th and 6th centuries AD that the Slavs migrated from Eastern Europe to claim Bratislava for themselves.

In the 10th Century AD, the Kingdom of Hungary took over the city.  Bratislava became a leading city in Hungarian economics and politics. Unfortunately, this meant that the city was a target, and it was often invaded by the Ottoman Empire throughout the early part of the 16th century.

  • Note: At this stage, it wasn’t known as Bratislava. That didn’t come until much, much later.  It was originally known by its German name (Pressburg) or Hungarian name (Pozsony).  But for ease of reading, we’ll keep calling it Bratislava.

The Capital of An Empire

Things drastically changed in 1536, when Bratislava became the new capital of Hungary.

This meant that the city gained much more attention and was considered an extremely important part of the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy. It was a popular place for coronations for future kings and queens, and became a common residence for many other social elites, such as archbishops.

Early Years of Bratislava Castle

Early Years of Bratislava Castle

For the next few centuries Bratislava thrived.   Castles, churches, state buildings and the population all drastically increased in numbers.

By the start of the 19th century, momentum began to slow down. There was an increasingly popular Slovak nationalist movement, and a number of anti-Habsburg uprisings.  Perhaps because of this, the crown jewels as well as other important royal artefacts of the Habsburg dynasty were moved to Vienna.

Due to the close geographical location of Vienna, which was the home of the Austrian-Hungarian empire, the city of Bratislava still remained an important place for the royal family, and for economics and trade.

Modern History of Bratislava

The conclusion of World War One saw the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  Bratislava then became a part of the newly formed Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia and Czech Republic).  This was despite strong opposition from Germany and Hungary. Many Hungarians fled the region as a result, which meant that many Czechs and Slovaks moved in.

It wasn’t until 1919 that the city formally adopted the name BratislavaAs we mentioned earlier, it had previously been known as Pressburg (its German name) or Pozsony (its Hungarian name).

World War Two was devastating for the city.   The city came under Nazi control, and a huge majority of the Slovak and Jewish population were sent to their deaths at Nazi concentration camps.

Bratislava was eventually liberated by Ukrainian Soviet Troops towards the end of the war.  Being liberated by the Soviets meant that during the Cold War, the city became part of the communist ruled Czechoslovakia and fell on the eastern side of the Iron Curtain.



Throughout the Cold War, Bratislava was a part of the strong anti communist movements held in Czechoslovakia.  The Prague Spring protests in 1968, and subsequent Soviet invasion, led to a mistrust of the Soviets by the Czechoslovakian people.  In 1986, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev announced that the Soviets would no longer intervene in Czechoslovakia, and by 1989 the Iron curtain had fallen.

The Capital of Slovakia

In 1993, Czechoslovakia split.  Slovakia became a Republic, and Bratislava was named the nation’s capital.

Since this time, the nation has boomed and its floodgates have opened welcoming tourism and much needed foreign investment.

Bratislava Today

Bratislava Today

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