Bratislava (/ˌbrætɪˈslɑːvə/, also US: /ˌbrɑːt-/, Slovak: ˈbracislaʋa), German Pressburg (Preßburg), Hungarian Pozsony, city, capital of Slovakia. It is a small historic town but the largest in Slovakia, and the youngest metropolis in Europe. Officially, the city’s population is about 430,000, although it is believed to be over 660,000, over 150 percent of official estimates. The town (Bratislava) is situated in the extreme southwestern part of the country, along the Danube where the river has carved a gorge in the Little Carpathian Mountains near the meeting point of the Slovak, Austrian and Hungarian frontiers; Vienna is 35 miles (56 km) west.
Bratislava has a small compact old town, only about 1 square kilometer away; it is easily walkable and much of it is also closed to vehicle traffic. It’s easy to search out, downhill from the hill-top dominating medieval castle, and past the tall spire of St. Martin’s Cathedral. The maze of cobblestone streets is usually limited to pedestrians. However, if visitors or travelers aren’t able to walk the hilly streets, there’s a tram which is incredibly affordable.
The city’s history has been influenced by people of many nations and religions, including Austrians, Bulgarians, Croats, Czechs, Germans, Hungarians, Jews, Serbs, and Slovaks. Bratislava served because of the Hungarian capital from 1526 until 1784 when most of the center Danube basin was within the hands of the Turks, and also the Hungarian parliament continued to satisfy there until 1848. Today, Bratislava is the political, cultural, and economic center of Slovakia.
The city is dominated by its huge castle which stands 300 feet (100 meters) above the Danube plateau. The castle was the residence of the Austrian royalty until it had been destroyed by fire in 1811; it’s since been largely restored. Serving briefly because of the seat of the presidency for independent Slovakia in 1993, the castle today is museum and special events venue, notably because of the site of the Bush-Putin summit in February 2005. The castle dominates the middle of Bratislava, towering over the second-highest point of St Martin’s cathedral spire.
Visually the old town is a reminder of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, including the church where many of its monarchs were crowned. The modern city of Bratislava could be a cultural center and also the seat of Comenius University (1919; successor to the medieval Istropolitana Academy), the Slovak Academy of Sciences (1953), several specialized schools and technical institutes, the Slovak National Theatre, and therefore the Slovak National Gallery and Museum.
The city has a total area of 367.58 square kilometers (141.9 sq mi), making it the second-largest city in Slovakia by area (after the township of Vysoké Tatry). Bratislava is an important road and rail junction and river port and has diversified textile, chemical, and metal, and electrical goods industries. In the past few years, several major shopping centers have opened; these combine high-ticket shops with mid-market bargains.
Yes, the old town of Bratislava is so much charming that it is often used as a setting for films set in Vienna. The total amount of public green space is 46.8 square kilometers (18.1 sq mi), or 110 square meters (1,200 sq ft) per inhabitant. The largest city park is Horský park (literally, Mountainous Park), within the Old Town. The Forest Park covers a vicinity of 27.3 square kilometers (10.5 sq mi), of which 96% is forested mostly with oak and mixed oak/hornbeam forest, and contains original flora and fauna like European badgers, red foxes, boar, and red and deer. The historic old town blends the top-priced foreign boutiques with tourist-oriented souvenir stores, and numerous cafes and restaurants. There are a variety of natural and manmade lakes in the area, most of which are used for recreation.