Bratislava

Known as Pressburg to German-speakers or Pozsony to Hungarian-speakers, Bratislava got its present name only 90 years ago.  But the city has a long and proud history that dates back to pre-Roman times.

The hillsides on the edge of the city have been home to vineyards for centuries, and close to Bratislava are wine towns where you can taste the best - and it is startlingly good! - that Slovakia has to offer.

In the city itself there is plenty to see and do.  Bratislava's long history - as home to Celts, Romans, Germans, Hungarians, Jews, and of course Slovaks - means there is an impressive range of architecture, languages and cuisine.

The handsome homes of the Austro-Hungarian noble families who built palaces here dot the city, and many of them are now open to the public as museums and galleries.  The castle, with its long and chequered history (it has been destroyed more than once), is now undergoing a major restoration.  There are great views over the mediaeval old town and the Danube valley from its fortifications.

Bratislava was once one of the most important centres of Jewish learning in Europe.  A unique memorial to its most renowned rabbi, the Chatam Sofer, and the city's Museum of Jewish Culture celebrate this heritage.

Communism too left its mark: across the river, the unmistakable ranks of concrete housing blocks - paneláky in Slovak - line the horizon, with the unique UFO-style New Bridge in the foreground.

The Danube River itself is, of course, one of the city's main assets.  There are several cafes along its banks, within walking distance of the centre.  The 'UFO' itself contains an eponymous bar high above the river.  The pedestrian decks of the New and Old Bridges are good places to watch the river traffic, including huge Danube barges, glide past.  Alternatively, you can take to the water yourself: daily hydrofoil services link the city with nearby Vienna.

LOCATION

Bratislava is at the centre of Europe, in the extreme southwest of Slovakia. The edge of the city actually forms Slovakia's borders with Hungary, to the south, and Austria, to the west, making it the only capital city to border two neighbouring countries. In addition, the Czech Republic is only 62 kilometres away. The Austrian capital Vienna is only 60 kilometres distant, making them among the world's closest capital cities.

Bratislava lies on the banks of the Danube, the second longest river in Europe, and at the foot of the Small Carpathian hills. The Middle Danube basin begins at Devín Gate in western Bratislava. The city forms part of the Bratislava Region, one of eight into which Slovakia is divided. The city covers a total area of 367.58 square kilometres. As well as the Danube, which crosses the city from the west to the south-east, the city also encompasses parts of the Morava River, which forms the north-western border of the city and enters the Danube at Devín, the Little Danube, and the Vydrica, which enters the Danube in the borough of Karlova Ves. The Carpathian mountain range, one of Europe's biggest, begins in the city as the Small Carpathians (Malé Karpaty). The Záhorie and Danubian lowlands stretch into Bratislava in the west and the east respectively. The city's lowest point is the Danube's surface, at 126 metres above sea level; the highest point is Devínska Kobyla, at 514 metres. The average altitude of the city is 140 metres.

FACTS:

Area: 367.9 km2

Position: 17º7´ East, 48º9´ North

Elevation: 126m - 514m above sea level

Time zone: CET (GMT + 1 hour)

Summer time (March to October): GMT + 2 hours

More information

Interesting Links

Bratislava (Town Monument Reserves)
Bratislava Castle (Castles, chateaux and manor houses)
In the Streets of Bratislava's Old Town (City breaks)