Bratislava is in the south-west corner of Slovakia, sitting on both banks of the Danube and close to the Morava river, separating Slovakia from Hungary and Austria, respectively. It is the only European capital that borders two other countries, and Vienna is less than 60km away, making the cities two of the closest capitals in the world.
Formerly known as Pressburg, Bratislava was officially re-named in 1919 after the establishment of Czechoslovakia. Although it had always been a major city in the former Austro-Hungarian empire, substituting for the coronations of several rulers when Hungary was overrun by Ottomans, Bratislava underwent a major population and development boom in the 20th century, making it the only obvious choice as a capital for the new Slovak Republic after the Velvet Revolution in 1989.
Its tight old town, huddled beneath the castle on the banks of the Danube, is characterised by Baroque palaces and condensed, narrow, medieval streets. But as the 20th century progressed, it suddenly became ringed by modern developments in all directions, including over the river, where the suburb of Petržalka, for example, would be one of the five largest cities in Slovakia in its own right if separated from Bratislava.
Unfortunately, the communist government also left its scars on the city's historical core, carving a highway through the former Jewish quarter and building the "New Bridge" (Nový most) to carry it. Sometimes referred to as the UFO bridge, after the peculiar bubble-cum-pod-shaped restaurant hovering at its highest point, the bridge appears to be a misguided glimpse into a communist-imagined space-age that has gradually become accepted as an eccentric landmark.
Bratislava's location has meant a consistently diverse indigenous and transient population, historically supporting German, Hungarian and now Slovak majorities, alongside minority groups of Jews and Roma, both of which have suffered all-too-familiar persecutions throughout the years. But the city has always been the most progressive in Slovakia, and contemporary visitors will find a well-equipped and dynamic city with shopping malls, business centres and modern real estate projects.
(Staré Mesto) - the tourist engine of the city in summer and a pleasant retreat in winter, Gothic St Martin's Cathedral
, Bratislava Castle
, Nový most
(New Bridge), Presidential Palace
, Slavín Monument
, Television Tower Kamzík, Železná Studienka
(area for relaxation), Bratislava Zoo
, Devín castle
(ruins with exhibit), Bratislava Golf and Country Club - Bernolákovo
, Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum