Pinsteps. Bratislava: From Ancient Crossroads to Modern Capital
Places to visit in ברטיסלבה. Languages: en

As the capital of the Slovak Republic, Bratislava's history traditionally begins in the 1st century AD. Then, a military leader under Roman Emperor Tiberius, Piso, established Gerulata, a key post in the Danube defensive line. Although there's no concrete evidence of Roman presence in present-day Bratislava, Piso's connection to the city's founding veers into legend.

The Romans strategically chose the site for Bratislava for its prime location on both banks of the Danube, a vital waterway connecting various European regions. It also lies on land routes linking Northern and Western Europe to the Middle East and the Balkan Peninsula. This geographical advantage was set to accelerate the city's growth, but the mass migrations sweeping across Europe and Asia in the 5th century hindered this development.

By the 5th century, ancient Slavic tribes had settled in the area, later founding Great Moravia, a significant early medieval European state. The first written mention of Bratislava, then a primary fortified site, dates back to the 9th century in Great Moravia. However, Great Moravia fell to the Magyars after a few decades, with a decisive battle occurring near Bratislava in 907.

Renamed Pozsony and part of Hungary, the city became a free royal town by the mid-12th century. This period saw German colonization of the Danube lands. By the 13th century, the German influence in Pozsony was so strong that it was renamed Pressburg, still under Hungarian rule. It remained a major Eastern European trade and craft centre throughout the Middle Ages, hosting one of Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus's residences. 1465, Corvinus founded the Istropolitana Academy, marking the start of higher education in modern-day Slovakia.

The Ottoman expansion in the Balkans significantly impacted Pressburg's fate. 1541 Buda, the Hungarian capital, fell to the Ottomans, making Pressburg the Hungarian capital until 1784. Pressburg remained significant even after the capital moved back to Buda, hosting Hungarian coronations until 1848.

The late 18th century saw the rise of the Slavic national liberation movement, a response to Austrian and Hungarian oppression. In the 19th century, I witnessed severe Germanization and Magyarization of its Slavic population. Pressburg also played a role in the Napoleonic Wars, hosting the peace treaty between France and Austria in 1805.

Following World War I and the Austro-Hungarian Empire's collapse, the Czechoslovak Republic was established on October 28, 1918, uniting Czech and Slovak lands.

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Evgeny Praisman
Vienna to Budapest via Bratislava

The journey from Vienna to Budapest via Bratislava includes a stop in Bratislava for a city tour. Explore the rich history of Bratislava, visit the bustling city square, admire the grandeur of the palace, walk through the iconic St. Michael's Gate, and experience the elegance of the Opera House.

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Evgeny Praisman (author)
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