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26 August 2011


Posted in Accomodation, Slovakia

Bratislava or Pozsony in Hungarian and Pressburg in German, [1] is the capital and largest city in Slovakia. It has a population of almost 450,000 and is the administrative, cultural and economic center of the country. Before 1919, it was known as Prešporok in Slovak.

The same square during the New Year's Eve celebration in 2006
Bratislava has a very pleasant medieval inner city with narrow, winding streets, a hill-top castle next to the river Danube, and many historic churches and buildings to visit. The old town is centered on two squares, Hlavne namestie (main square) and Hviezdoslavovo namestie (Hviezdoslav square, named after a famous Slovak poet). Of a rather different architectural character are some of the communist-era buildings found in the modern parts of the city; a prime example is Petrzalka housing estate, the biggest Communist-era concrete block housing complex in Central Europe, which stretches on endlessly just across the river. Move further east and there are plenty of rural places to explore. Farms, vineyards, agricultural land, and tiny villages are situated less than 50 kilometers to the north and east of Bratislava.

Today, Bratislava and its surroundings form the second-most prosperous region in Central and Eastern Europe, with a per capita GDP of around 129.3% of the EU-25 average (after Prague).

After the fall of the Great Moravian Empire, Slovakia became part of the Kingdom of Hungary from the 10th century until the end of the First World War when the Treaty of Trianon created Czechoslovakia, a country which Slovaks are widely proud of - for example, some Czechoslovakian representatives, such as Alexander Dubcek and Gustáv Husák, were ethnically Slovak.

Between 1939 and 1944, Slovakia was a German-controlled state. Then, it was conquered by the Soviets to recreate a new Czechoslovakia, but one that would be pro-Soviet and Communist this time.

This lasted until the fall of Communist rule in Czechoslovakia, during the Velvet Revolution of 1989. In 1993, peaceful differences between Czechs and Slovaks when rebuilding their nation after the fall of Communism led to the dissolution of Czechoslovakia into two separate and independent nations: the Czech Republic, and of course Slovakia (Slovak Republic). To this day, Slovaks and Czechs have generally friendly relations, and the two nations cooperate together frequently on international issues.

Bratislava was the capital (1536 - 1784), the coronation city (1563 - 1830) and the seat of the diet (1536 - 1848) of the Kingdom of Hungary for many years. Since 1960, it has been the capital of the federal state of Slovakia within Czechoslovakia and, since 1993, it has been the capital of independent Slovakia.

Although today, Bratislava's population are mostly Slovaks, from the 13th to the early 19th century, the majority ethnic group in the city were the Germans, who remained the largest ethnic group until the First World War (in 1910, 42% were German, 41% Hungarian and 15% Slovak out of a total population of 78,000). Hungarians formed another important group in the city in the 19th century, but after the First World War, many Germans and Hungarians left for Austria and Hungary respectively, and the remaining Germans were expelled at the end of World War II.

01 July 2011

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