Bratislava

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Coordinates:
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Bratislava
City
none Bratislava's Old Town in the evening from Petržalka.
Bratislava's Old Town in the evening from Petržalka.
Flag
Coat of arms
Nickname: Beauty on the Danube
Country Flag of Slovakia Slovakia
Region Bratislava
Districts Bratislava I, II, III, IV, V
Rivers Danube, Morava, Little Danube
Elevation 134  m (440 ft)
Coordinates
Highest point Devínska Kobyla
 - elevation 514  m (1,686 ft)
Lowest point Danube River
 - elevation 126  m (413 ft)
Area 367.584  km² (142  sq mi)
 - metro 2,053  km² (793  sq mi)
Population 426,927 ( 2007- 12-31)
 - urban 500,000
 - metro 600,000
Density 1,161 / km² (3,007 / sq mi)
First mentioned 907
Government City council
Mayor Andrej Ďurkovský
Timezone CET ( UTC+1)
 - summer (DST) CEST ( UTC+2)
Postal code 8XX XX
Phone prefix 421-2
Car plate BA
Location in Slovakia
Location in Slovakia
Location in Slovakia
Location in the Bratislava Region
Location in the Bratislava Region
Location in the Bratislava Region
Wikimedia Commons: Bratislava
Statistics: MOŠ/MIS
Website: www.bratislava.sk

Bratislava ( Slovak pronunciation : [ˈbracɪslava], also known by several other names) is the capital of Slovakia, and with a population of about 427,000, the country's largest city. Bratislava is in the southwest of Slovakia on both banks of the Danube River. Bordering Austria and Hungary, it is the only national capital that borders two countries. It and Vienna are also two of Europe's closest national capitals, at less than 60 kilometres (37 mi) apart.

Bratislava is the political, cultural and economic centre of Slovakia. It is the seat of the Slovak president, the parliament, and the executive branch of the government. It is home to several universities, museums, theatres, galleries and other important economic, cultural, and educational institutions. The headquarters of many of Slovakia's large businesses and financial institutions are in Bratislava as well.

The history of the city, long known by the German name Pressburg, has been strongly influenced by various peoples, including Austrians, Czechs, Germans, Hungarians, Jews and Slovaks. The city was the capital of the Kingdom of Hungary under the Habsburg monarchy from 1536 to 1783. Bratislava was home to the Slovak national movement of the 19th century and to many Slovak, Hungarian and German historical figures.

Names

Bratislava, as it was renamed in 1919, has been known by many names in different languages throughout its history. Its first recorded name, in the 10th century Annales Iuvavenses, was Brezalauspurc. Notable alternative names are: German: Pressburg or Preßburg (still used in German today), Hungarian: Pozsony (still used in Hungarian today), former Slovak name: Prešporok.

Other names are or were: Greek: Istropolis (meaning " Danube City", also used in Latin), Czech: Prešpurk, French: Presbourg, Latin: Posonium, Croatian: Požun. The name Pressburg has also been used in older English language publications until 1919, and it is still occasionally used today. For the history and etymology of the various names, see History of Bratislava.

History

An original Biatec and its replica on a modern 5-koruna coin.
An original Biatec and its replica on a modern 5- koruna coin.

The first known permanent settlement of the area began with the Linear Pottery Culture, around 5000 BC in the Neolithic era. About 200 BC, the Celtic Boii tribe founded the first significant settlement, a fortified town known as an oppidum, and also established a mint which produced silver coins known as biatecs. The area fell under Roman influence from the 1st century AD until the 4th century and formed part of the Limes Romanus, a border defence system. The Romans introduced grape growing to the area and began a tradition of winemaking, which survives to the present.

The Slavic ancestors of the modern Slovaks arrived between the 5th and 6th centuries during the Migration Period. As a response to onslaughts by Avars, the local Slavic tribes rebelled and established Samo's Empire (623–658), the first known Slavic political entity. In the 9th century, the castles at Bratislava and Devín were important centres of the Slavic states the Principality of Nitra and Great Moravia. The first written reference to the city dates to 907 and is related to the fall of Great Moravia under the attacks of the Hungarians.

Bratislava (Pressburg) in the 17th century
Bratislava (Pressburg) in the 17th century

In the 10th century, the territory of Bratislava (what would later become the Pressburg county) became part of Hungary (called "the Kingdom of Hungary" from 1000) and became a key economic and administrative centre on the kingdom's frontier. This strategic position destined the city to be the site of frequent attacks and battles, but also brought it economic development and high political status. Bratislava (then Pressburg) was granted its first known town privileges in 1291 by Andrew III, and was declared a free royal town in 1405 by King Sigismund of Luxemburg, who also entitled the town to use its own coat of arms in 1436.

The Kingdom of Hungary was defeated by the Ottoman Empire in the Battle of Mohács in 1526. Thereafter the Turks besieged and damaged Bratislava but failed to conquer the city. Owing to Ottoman advances into Hungarian territory, the city was designated the new capital of Hungary in 1536, becoming part of the Habsburg (Austrian) monarchy and marking the beginning of a new era. The city became a coronation town and the seat of kings, archbishops (1543), the nobility and all major organisations and offices. Between 1536 and 1830, 11 kings and queens were crowned at St. Martin's Cathedral. Nevertheless, the 17th century was marked by anti-Habsburg uprisings, fighting with the Turks, floods, plagues and other disasters. The Reformation arrived in the second half of the 16th century and found supporters mainly in the urban class. As a result of frequent insurrections against the Catholic Habsburgs, the suburbs were ravaged. The city and the castle were conquered several times by insurgents, then reconquered by the Imperial troops. This period of uprisings ended in 1711 with the signing of the Peace of Szatmár.

Bratislava (Pressburg), in a drawing from 1787
Bratislava (Pressburg), in a drawing from 1787

Bratislava flourished during the 18th century reign of Maria Theresa of Austria, becoming the largest and most important town in the territory of present-day Slovakia and Hungary. The population tripled; many new palaces, monasteries, mansions, and streets were built, and the city was the centre of social and cultural life of the region. However, the city started to lose its importance under the reign of Maria Theresa's son Joseph II, especially when the crown jewels were taken to Vienna in 1783 in an attempt to strengthen the union between Austria and Hungary. Many central offices subsequently moved to Buda, followed by a large segment of the nobility. The first newspapers in Hungarian and Slovak were published here, resp. Magyar hírmondó in 1780, and Presspurske Nowiny in 1783. In the course of the 18th century, the city became a centre for the Slovak national movement.

Bratislava (Pressburg), ca. 1840
Bratislava (Pressburg), ca. 1840

19th century history was closely tied to the major events in Europe. The Peace of Pressburg between Austria and France was signed in Bratislava in 1805. Theben Castle was ruined by Napoleon's French troops in 1809, and Bratislava Castle destroyed by fire in 1811. In 1843 Hungarian was proclaimed the official language in legislation, public administration and education by the Diet in Bratislava. As a reaction to the Revolutions of 1848, Ferdinand V signed the so-called March laws (also called April laws), which included the abolition of serfdom, at the Primate's Palace. The city chose the revolutionary Hungarian side, but was captured by the Austrians in December 1848. Industry grew rapidly in the 19th century. The first horse-drawn railway in the Kingdom of Hungary, from Bratislava to Svätý Jur (Szentgyörgy), was built in 1840. A new line to Vienna using steam locomotives was opened in 1848, and a line to Pest in 1850. Many new industrial, financial and other institutions were founded; for example, the first bank established in present-day Slovakia was founded in 1842. The city's first permanent bridge over the Danube, Starý most, was built in 1891.

1944">Allied ordnance damage at the Apollo company industrial plant in Bratislava, September 1944
Allied ordnance damage at the Apollo company industrial plant in Bratislava, September 1944

After World War I and the formation of Czechoslovakia on October 28, 1918, the city was incorporated into the new state despite its representatives' reluctance. The dominant Hungarian and German population tried to prevent annexation of the city to Czechoslovakia and declared it a free city. However, the Czechoslovak Legions occupied the city on 1 January 1919, thereby making it part of Czechoslovakia. The city became the seat of Slovakia's political organs and organizations and became Slovakia's capital on 4-5th February. On March 27, 1919, the name Bratislava was officially adopted for the first time.. As a result of Czechoslovak independence, many Hungarian government employees migrated to Hungary, and Czechs and Slovaks took their places and moved to Bratislava. Education in Hungarian and German was radically reduced.. In the 1930 Czechoslovakian census the Hungarian population of Bratislava had decreased to 15.8% (see the Demographics of Bratislava article for more details).

In 1938, Nazi Germany annexed neighbouring Austria in the Anschluss; later that year it also annexed the still-independent Petržalka and Devín boroughs on ethnic grounds. Bratislava was declared the capital of the first independent Slovak Republic on 14 March 1939, but the new state quickly fell under Nazi influence. In 1941–1942 and 1944–1945, the new Slovak government expelled most of Bratislava's approximately 15,000 Jews, with most of them being sent into concentration camps. Bratislava was bombarded by the Allies, occupied by German troops in 1944 and eventually taken by the Soviet Red Army on April 4, 1945. At the end of World War II, most Bratislava Germans were evacuated by German authorities; a few returned after the war, but were expelled without their properties under the Beneš decrees.

President George W. Bush and Slovakia's former Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda are greeted by a crowd of thousands gathered in Bratislava's Hviezdoslavovo Square
President George W. Bush and Slovakia's former Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda are greeted by a crowd of thousands gathered in Bratislava's Hviezdoslavovo Square

After the Communist Party seized power in Czechoslovakia in February 1948, the city became part of the Eastern Bloc. The city annexed new land, and the population rose significantly, becoming 90% Slovak. Large residential areas consisting of high-rise prefabricated panel buildings, such as those in the Petržalka borough, were built. The Communist government also built several new grandiose buildings, such as the Nový Most bridge and the Slovak Radio headquarters, sometimes at the expense of the historical cityscape.

In 1968, after the unsuccessful Czechoslovak attempt to liberalize the Communist regime, the city had to suffer Warsaw Pact troops occupation. Shortly after, the city became capital of the Slovak Socialist Republic, one of the two states of the federalized Czechoslovakia. Bratislava's dissidents anticipated the fall of the Communism with the Bratislava candle demonstration in 1988, and the city became one of the foremost centres of the anti-Communist Velvet Revolution in 1989.

In 1993, the city became the capital of the newly formed Slovak Republic following the Velvet Divorce. In the 1990s and the early 21st century, the city's economy boomed due to foreign investment. The flourishing city also hosted several important cultural and political events, including the Slovakia Summit 2005 between George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin.

Geography

Bratislava seen from Spot Satellite
Bratislava seen from Spot Satellite

Bratislava is situated in southwest Slovakia, within the Bratislava Region. Its location on the borders with Austria and Hungary makes it the only national capital that borders two countries. It is only 62 kilometres (38.5 mi) from the border with the Czech Republic and only 60 kilometres (37 mi) from the Austrian capital Vienna.

The city has a total area of 367.58  square kilometres (141.9  sq mi), making it the second-largest city in Slovakia by area (after the township of Vysoké Tatry). Bratislava straddles the Danube River, which crosses the city from the west to the south-east. The Middle Danube basin begins at Devín Gate in western Bratislava. Other rivers are 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 begins in city territory with the Little Carpathians (Malé Karpaty). The Záhorie and Danubian lowlands stretch into Bratislava. The city's lowest point is at the Danube's surface at 126 metres (410 ft) AMSL, and the highest point is Devínska Kobyla at 514 metres (1,690 ft). The average altitude is 140 metres (460 ft).

Climate

Bratislava lies in the north temperate zone and has a continental climate with four distinct seasons. It is often windy with a marked variation between hot summers and cold, humid winters. The city is in one of the warmest and driest parts of Slovakia. Recently, the transitions from winter to summer and summer to winter have been rapid, with short autumn and spring periods. Snow occurs less frequently than previously. Some parts of Bratislava, particularly Devín and Devínska Nová Ves, are vulnerable to floods from the Danube and Morava rivers. New flood protection is being built on both banks.

Weather averages for Bratislava
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 2 (36) 4 (40) 10 (51) 15 (60) 20 (65) 23 (75) 26 (79) 26 (79) 21 (71) 15 (59) 7 (45) 3 (38) 15 (58)
Average low °C (°F) -3 (26) -2 (28) 1 (35) 4 (40) 9 (49) 12 (55) 14 (58) 13 (57) 10 (51) 5 (42) 1 (34) -1 (30) 5 (42)
Precipitation cm (inches) 3 (1.4) 4 (1.6) 3 (1.5) 3 (1.4) 5 (2.2) 7 (2.8) 6 (2.5) 6 (2.4) 3 (1.5) 4 (1.6) 5 (2.1) 5 (2) 58 (23)
Source: Weatherbase 2007-04-30

Cityscape and architecture

Panorama of the early morning sunshine over Bratislava's Old Town, to the left, and the New Town, to the right. Bratislava Castle is visible to the far left.
Panorama of the early morning sunshine over Bratislava's Old Town, to the left, and the New Town, to the right. Bratislava Castle is visible to the far left.

The cityscape of Bratislava is characterized by medieval towers and grandiose 20th century buildings, but has undergone profound changes in a construction boom at the start of the 21st century.

City

The Old Town Hall, viewed from the Main Square
The Old Town Hall, viewed from the Main Square

Most historical buildings are concentrated in the Old Town. Bratislava's Town Hall is a complex of three buildings erected in the 14th–15th centuries and now hosts the Bratislava City Museum. Michael's Gate is the only gate that has been preserved from the medieval fortifications, and it ranks among the oldest of the town's buildings; the narrowest house in Europe is nearby. The University Library building, erected in 1756, was used by the Diet (parliament) of the Kingdom of Hungary from 1802 to 1848. Much of the significant legislation of the Hungarian Reform Era (such as the abolition of serfdom and the foundation of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences) was enacted there.

The historic centre is characterised by many baroque palaces. The Grassalkovich Palace, built around 1760, is now the residence of the Slovak president, and the Slovak government now has its seat in the former Archiepiscopal Palace. In 1805, diplomats of emperors Napoleon and Francis II signed the fourth Peace of Pressburg in the Primate's Palace, after Napoleon's victory in the Battle of Austerlitz. Some smaller houses are historically significant; composer Johann Nepomuk Hummel was born in an 18th century house in the Old Town.

Notable cathedrals and churches include the Gothic St. Martin's Cathedral built in the 13th–16th centuries, which served as the coronation church of the Kingdom of Hungary between 1563 and 1830. The Franciscan Church, dating to the 13th century, has been a place of knighting ceremonies and is the oldest preserved sacral building in the city. The Church of St. Elisabeth, better known as the Blue Church due to its colour, is built entirely in the Art Nouveau style.

A curiosity is the underground (formerly ground-level) restored portion of the Jewish cemetery where 19th century Rabbi Moses Sofer is buried, located at the base of the castle hill near the entrance to a tram tunnel. The only military cemetery in Bratislava is Slavín, unveiled in 1960 in honour of Soviet Army soldiers who fell when liberating Bratislava from German troops. It offers an excellent view of the city and the Little Carpathians.

Other prominent 20th century structures include the Nový Most (New Bridge) across the Danube featuring a UFO-like tower restaurant, Slovak Radio's inverted pyramid-shaped headquarters, and the uniquely designed Kamzík TV Tower with an observation deck and rotating restaurant. In the early 21st century, new edifices have transformed the traditional cityscape. The construction boom has spawned new public buildings, such as the Most Apollo and a new building of the Slovak National Theatre, as well as private real-estate development.

Bratislava Castle

Bratislava Castle at night
Bratislava Castle at night

One of the most prominent structures in the city is Bratislava Castle, on a plateau 85 metres (279 ft) above the Danube. The castle hill site has been inhabited since the transition period between the Stone and Bronze ages and has been the acropolis of a Celtic town, part of the Roman Limes Romanus, a huge Slavic fortified settlement, and a political, military and religious centre for Great Moravia. A stone castle was not constructed until the 10th century, when the area was part of the Kingdom of Hungary. The castle was converted into a Gothic anti- Hussite fortress under Sigismund of Luxemburg in 1430, became a Renaissance castle in 1562, and was rebuilt in 1649 in the baroque style. Under Queen Maria Theresa, the castle became a prestigious royal seat. In 1811, the castle was inadvertently destroyed and lay in ruins until the 1950s, when it was rebuilt mostly in its former Theresan style.

Devín Castle

The ruined and recently renovated Devín Castle is in Devín, on top of a rock where the Morava River, which forms the border between Austria and Slovakia, enters the Danube. It is one of the most important Slovak archaeological sites, and contains a museum dedicated to its history. Due to its strategic location, Devín Castle was a very important frontier castle of Great Moravia and the early Hungarian state. It was destroyed by Napoleon's troops in 1809. It is an important symbol of Slovak and Slavic history.

Rusovce

Rusovce mansion, with its English park, is in the Rusovce borough. The house was originally built in the 17th century and was turned into an English neo-Gothic-style mansion in 1841–1844. The borough is also known for the ruins of the Roman military camp Gerulata, part of Limes Romanus, a border defence system. Gerulata was built and used between the 1st and 4th centuries AD.

Parks and lakes

Sad Janka Kráľa in Petržalka
Sad Janka Kráľa in Petržalka

Due to its location at the foothills of the Little Carpathians and its riparian vegetation on the Danubian floodplains, Bratislava has forests close to the city centre. The total amount of public green space is 46.8 square kilometres (18.1 sq mi), or 110 square metres (1,200 sq ft) per inhabitant. The largest city park is Horský park (literally, Mountainous Park), in the Old Town. Bratislavský lesný park (Bratislava Forest Park) is located in the Little Carpathians and includes many locales popular among visitors, such as Železná studienka and Koliba. The Forest Park covers an area of 27.3 square kilometres (10.5 sq mi), of which 96% is forested, and contains original flora and fauna such as European badgers, red foxes and mouflons. On the right bank of the Danube, in the borough of Petržalka, is Janko Kráľ Park founded in 1774–76. A new city park is planned for Petržalka between the Malý Draždiak and Veľký Draždiak lakes.

Bratislava's zoological park is located in Mlynská dolina, near the headquarters of Slovak Television. The zoo, founded in 1960, currently houses 152 species of animals, including the rare white lion and white tiger. The Botanical Gardens, which belong to Comenius University, can be found on the Danube riverfront, and house more than 120 species of domestic, foreign, and exotic origin.

The city has a number of natural and man-made lakes, most of which are used for recreation. Examples include Štrkovec lake in Ružinov, Kuchajda in Nové Mesto, Zlaté Piesky and the Vajnory lakes in the north-east, and Rusovce lake in the south, which is popular with nudists.

Demographics

2001 census results
District Population Ethnic group Population
Bratislava I–V 428,672 Slovaks 391,767
Bratislava I 44,798 Hungarians 16,541
Bratislava II 108,139 Czechs 7,972
Bratislava III 61,418 Germans 1,200
Bratislava IV 93,058 Moravians 635
Bratislava V 121,259 Croats 614

From the city's origin until the 19th century, Germans were the dominant ethnic group. However, after the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, active Magyarisation took place, and by the end of World War I Pressburg was a German-Hungarian town, with Slovaks as the biggest minority. After the formation of the Czechoslovak Republic in 1918, Bratislava remained a multi-ethnic city, but with a different demographic trend. The proportion of Slovaks and Czechs increased in the city, while the proportion of Germans and Hungarians fell. In 1938, 59% of population were Slovaks or Czechs, while Germans represented 22% and Hungarians 13% of the city's population. The creation of the first Slovak Republic in 1939 brought other changes, most notably the expulsion of many Czechs and Jews. In 1945, most of the Germans were evacuated, or after the restoration of Czechoslovakia, displaced from the city, along with Hungarians accused of cooperation with the Nazis (the Beneš decrees, partly revoked in 1948). . The city thereby obtained its clearly Slovak character. Hundreds of citizens were expelled during the communist oppression of the 1950s, with the aim of replacing "reactionary" people with the proletarian class. Since the 1950s, the Slovaks have been the dominant ethnicity in the town, making up around 90% of the city's population.

Government

Primate's Palace, the seat of the city's mayor
Primate's Palace, the seat of the city's mayor

Bratislava is the seat of the Slovak parliament, presidency, ministries, supreme court ( Slovak: Najvyšší súd), and central bank. It is the seat of the Bratislava Region and, since 2002, also of the Bratislava Self-Governing Region. The city also has many foreign embassies and consulates.

The current local government (Mestská samospráva) structure has been in place since 1990. It is composed of a mayor (primátor), a city board (Mestská rada), a city council (Mestské zastupiteľstvo), city commissions (Komisie mestského zastupiteľstva), and a city magistrate's office (Magistrát).

The mayor, based at the Primate's Palace, is the city's top executive officer and is elected to a four-year term of office. The current mayor of Bratislava is Andrej Ďurkovský, who won the election in 2006 as a candidate of the KDH– SDKÚ coalition and is serving his second term in the office. The city council is the city's legislative body, responsible for issues such as budget, local ordinances, city planning, road maintenance, education, and culture. The Council usually convenes once a month and consists of 80 members elected to four-year terms concurrent with the mayor's. Many of the council's executive functions are carried out by the city commission at the council's direction. The city board is a 28-member body composed of the mayor and his deputies, the borough mayors, and up to ten city council members. The board is an executive and supervisory arm of the city council and also serves in an advisory role to the mayor.

Administratively, Bratislava is divided into five districts: Bratislava I (the city centre), Bratislava II (eastern parts), Bratislava III (north-eastern parts), Bratislava IV (western and northern parts) and Bratislava V (southern parts on the right bank of the Danube, including Petržalka, the most densely populated residential area in Central Europe).

For self-governance purposes, the city is divided into 17 boroughs, each of which has its own mayor (starosta) and council. The number of councillors in each depends on the size and population of the borough. Each of the boroughs coincides with the city's 20 cadastral areas, except for two cases: Nové Mesto is further divided into the Nové Mesto and Vinohrady cadastral areas and Ružinov is divided into Ružinov, Nivy and Trnávka. Further unofficial division recognizes additional quarters and localities.

Bratislava's territorial divisions (districts and boroughs)
Bratislava I Bratislava II Bratislava III Bratislava IV Bratislava V
Staré Mesto Ružinov Nové Mesto Karlova Ves Petržalka
  Vrakuňa Rača Dúbravka Jarovce
  Podunajské Biskupice Vajnory Lamač Rusovce
      Devín Čunovo
      Devínska Nová Ves  
      Záhorská Bystrica  

Economy

High-rise buildings at Nivy, one of Bratislava's main business districts
High-rise buildings at Nivy, one of Bratislava's main business districts

The Bratislava Region is the wealthiest and economically most prosperous region in Slovakia as of 2007, despite being the smallest by area and having the second smallest population of the eight Slovak regions. It accounts for about 26% of the Slovak GDP. The GDP per capita ( PPP), valued at 33,124 (2005), is 147.9% of the EU average and is the second-highest level (after Prague) of all regions in the new EU member states.

The unemployment rate in Bratislava was 1.83% in December 2007. Many governmental institutions and private companies have their headquarters in Bratislava. More than 75% of Bratislava's population works in the service sector, mainly composed of trade, banking, IT, telecommunications, and tourism. The Bratislava Stock Exchange (BSSE), the organiser of the public securities market, was founded on 15 March 1991.

The automaker Volkswagen built a factory in Bratislava in 1991 and has expanded since. Currently, its production focuses on SUVs, which represent 68% of all production. The VW Touareg is produced in Bratislava, and the Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q7 are partially built there.

In recent years, service and high-tech-oriented businesses have prospered in Bratislava. Many global companies, including IBM, Dell, Lenovo, AT&T, SAP, and Accenture, have built outsourcing and service centres here or plan to do so soon. Reasons for the influx of multi-national corporations include proximity to the Western Europe, skilled labour force and the high density of universities and research facilities.

Other large companies and employers with headquarters in Bratislava include Slovak Telekom, Orange Slovensko, Slovenská sporiteľňa, Tatra banka, Doprastav, Hewlett-Packard Slovakia, Slovnaft, Henkel Slovensko, Slovenský plynárenský priemysel, Kraft Foods Slovakia, Whirlpool Slovakia, Železnice Slovenskej republiky, and Tesco Stores Slovak Republic.

The Slovak economy's strong growth in the 2000s has led to a boom in the construction industry, and several major projects have been completed or are planned in Bratislava. Areas attracting developers include the Danube riverfront, where two major projects already under construction: River Park in the Old Town, and Eurovea near the Apollo Bridge. Other locations under development include the areas around the main railway and bus stations, around the former industrial zone near the Old Town and in the boroughs of Petržalka, Nové Mesto and Ružinov. It is expected that investors will spend €1.2 billion on new projects by 2010. The city has a balanced budget of almost six billion Slovak korunas (€182 million, as of 2007), with one fifth used for investment. Bratislava holds shares in 17 companies directly, for example, in the public transport company ( Dopravný podnik Bratislava), the waste collection and disposal company, and the water utility. The city also manages municipal organisations such as the City Police (Mestská polícia), Bratislava City Museum and ZOO Bratislava.

Tourism

Tourist train Prešporáčik in the Old Town
Tourist train Prešporáčik in the Old Town

In 2006, Bratislava had 77 commercial accommodation facilities (of which 45 were hotels) with a total capacity of 9,940 beds. A total of 686,201 visitors, 454,870 of whom were foreigners, stayed overnight. Altogether, visitors made 1,338,497 overnight stays. However, a considerable share of visits is made by those who visit Bratislava for a single day, and their exact number is not known. Largest numbers of foreign visitors come from the Czech Republic, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Poland, and Austria.

Among other factors, the growth of low-cost airline flights to Bratislava, led by SkyEurope, has led to conspicuous stag parties, primarily from the UK. While these are a boon to the city's tourist industry, cultural differences and vandalism have led to concern by local officials.

Culture

Bratislava is the cultural heart of Slovakia. Owing to its historical multi-cultural character, local culture is influenced by various ethnic groups, including Germans, Slovaks, Hungarians, and Jews. Bratislava enjoys numerous theatres, museums, galleries, concert halls, cinemas, film clubs, and foreign cultural institutions.

Performing arts

The old Slovak National Theatre building on Hviezdoslav Square
The old Slovak National Theatre building on Hviezdoslav Square

Bratislava is the seat of the Slovak National Theatre, housed in two buildings. The first is a Neo-Renaissance theatre building situated in the Old Town at the end of Hviezdoslav Square. The new building, opened to the public in 2007, is on the riverfront. The theatre has three ensembles: opera, ballet and drama. Smaller theatres include the Bratislava Puppet Theatre, the Astorka Korzo '90 theatre, the Arena Theatre, L+S Studio, and the Naive Theatre of Radošina.

Music in Bratislava flourished in the 18th century and was closely linked to Viennese musical life. Mozart visited the town at the age of six. Among other notable composers who visited the town were Haydn, Liszt, Bartók and Beethoven, who played his Missa Solemnis for the first time in Bratislava. It is also the birthplace of the composer Johann Nepomuk Hummel. Bratislava is home to the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra. The city hosts several annual festivals, such as the Bratislava Music Festival and Bratislava Jazz Days. The Wilsonic Festival, held annually since 2000, brings dozens of international musical acts to the city each year. During the summer, various musical events take place as part of the Bratislava Cultural Summer. Apart from musical festivals, it is possible to hear music ranging from underground to well known pop stars.

Museums and galleries

The Rococo-style "House of the Good Shepherd", home to the Museum of Clocks
The Rococo-style " House of the Good Shepherd", home to the Museum of Clocks

The Slovak National Museum (Slovenské národné múzeum), founded in 1961, has its headquarters in Bratislava on the riverfront in the Old Town, along with the Natural History Museum, which is one of its subdivisions. It is the largest museum and cultural institution in Slovakia. The museum manages 16 specialised museums in Bratislava and beyond. The Bratislava City Museum (Múzeum mesta Bratislavy), established in 1868, is the oldest museum in continuous operation in Slovakia. Its primary goal is to chronicle Bratislava's history in various forms from the earliest periods using historical and archaeological collections. It offers permanent displays in eight specialised museums.

The Slovak National Gallery, founded in 1948, offers the most extensive network of galleries in Slovakia. Two displays in Bratislava are next to one another at Esterházy Palace (Esterházyho palác) and the Water Barracks (Vodné kasárne) on the Danube riverfront in the Old Town. The Bratislava City Gallery, founded in 1961, is the second-largest Slovak gallery of its kind. The gallery offers permanent displays at Pálffy Palace (Pálffyho palác) and Mirbach Palace (Mirbachov palác), in the Old Town. Danubiana Art Museum, one of the youngest art museums in Europe, is near Čunovo waterworks.

Sport

Various sports and sports teams have a long tradition in Bratislava, with many teams and individuals competing in Slovak and international leagues and competitions.

Tehelné pole stadium in Nové Mesto, home to the ŠK Slovan Bratislava football club
Tehelné pole stadium in Nové Mesto, home to the ŠK Slovan Bratislava football club

Football is currently represented by two clubs playing in the top Slovak football league, the Corgoň Liga. ŠK Slovan Bratislava, founded in 1919, has its home ground at the Tehelné pole stadium. ŠK Slovan is the most successful football club in Slovak history, being the only club from the former Czechoslovakia to win the European football competition the Cup Winners' Cup, in 1969. FC Artmedia Bratislava is the oldest of Bratislava's football clubs, founded in 1898, and is based at Štadión Petržalka in Petržalka. Another known club from the city is FK Inter Bratislava. Founded in 1945, they have their home ground at Štadión Pasienky and currently play in the Slovak Second Division.

Bratislava is home to three winter sports arenas: Ondrej Nepela Winter Sports Stadium, V. Dzurilla Winter Sports Stadium, and Dúbravka Winter Sports Stadium. The HC Slovan Bratislava ice hockey team represents Bratislava in Slovakia's top ice hockey league, the Slovak Extraliga. Samsung Arena, a part of Ondrej Nepela Winter Sports Stadium, is home to HC Slovan. The Ice Hockey World Championships in 1959 and 1992 were played in Bratislava, and the 2011 Men's Ice Hockey World Championships will be held in Bratislava and Košice, for which a new arena is being planned.

The Čunovo Water Sports Centre is a whitewater slalom and rafting area, close to the Gabčíkovo dam. The Centre hosts several international and national canoe and kayak competitions annually.In Bratislava are some flatwater canoeing clubs.

The National Tennis Centre, which includes Sibamac Arena, hosts various cultural, sporting and social events. Several Davis Cup matches have been played there, including the 2005 Davis Cup final. The city is represented in the top Slovak leagues in women's and men's basketball, women's handball and volleyball, and men's water polo. The Devín–Bratislava National run is the oldest athletic event in Slovakia, and the Bratislava City Marathon has been held annually since 2006. A race track is located in Petržalka, where horse racing and dog racing events and dog shows are held regularly.

Education and science

Comenius University headquarters at Šafárikovo námestie
Comenius University headquarters at Šafárikovo námestie

The first university in Bratislava and also in the territory of present-day Slovakia was Universitas Istropolitana, founded in 1465 by King Matthias Corvinus. It was closed in 1490 after his death.

Bratislava is the seat of the largest university ( Comenius University, 27,771 students), the largest technical university ( Slovak University of Technology, 18,473 students), and the oldest art schools (the Academy of Performing Arts and the Academy of Fine Arts and Design) in Slovakia. Other institutions of tertiary education are the public University of Economics and the first private college in Slovakia, City University of Seattle. In total, about 56,000 students attend university in Bratislava.

There are 65 public primary schools, nine private primary schools and ten religious primary schools. Overall, they enroll 25,821 pupils. The city's system of secondary education (some middle schools and all high schools) consists of 39 gymnasia with 16,048 students, 37 specialized high schools with 10,373 students, and 27 vocational schools with 8,863 students (data as of 2007).

The Slovak Academy of Sciences is also based in Bratislava. However, the city is one of the few European capitals to have neither an observatory nor a planetarium. The nearest observatory is in Modra, 30 kilometres (19 mi) away, and the nearest planetarium is in Hlohovec, 70 kilometres (43 mi) away. CEPIT, the Central European Park For Innovative Technologies, is slated for development in Vajnory. This science and technology park will combine public and private research and educational institutions. Construction is expected to begin in 2008.

Transport

Duobus (a trolleybus combined with a bus)
Duobus (a trolleybus combined with a bus)

The geographical position of Bratislava in Central Europe has long made it a natural crossroads for international trade traffic.

Public transport in Bratislava is managed by Dopravný podnik Bratislava, a city-owned company. The transport system is known as Mestská hromadná doprava (MHD, Municipal Mass Transit) and employs buses, trams, and trolleybuses. An additional service, Bratislavská integrovaná doprava (Bratislava Integrated Transport), links train and bus routes in the city with points beyond.

As a rail hub, the city has direct connections to Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and the rest of Slovakia. The motorway system provides direct access to Brno in the Czech Republic, Trnava and other points in Slovakia, and Budapest in Hungary. The A6 motorway between Bratislava and Vienna was opened in November 2007. The Port of Bratislava provides access to the Black Sea via the Danube and to the North Sea through the Rhine–Main–Danube Canal. M. R. Štefánik Airport is 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) north-east of the city centre. It served 2,024,000 passengers in 2007.


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