Bratislava

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Bratislava

Bratislava (brä´tēslä´vä´), Ger. Pressburg, Hung. Pozsony, city (1991 pop. 442,197), SW Slovakia, on the Danube River and near the Austrian and Hungarian borders. It is the capital and largest city of Slovakia. Bratislava is an important road and rail center and a leading Danubian port. A well-diversified industry produces textiles, chemicals, and metal goods; during the Communist period, heavy industry was focused on the production of armaments. Forests, vineyards, and large farms surround the city, which has an active trade in agricultural products. It is also a popular tourist center. A Roman outpost called Posonium by the 1st cent. AD, Bratislava became a stronghold of the Great Moravian Empire in the 9th cent. After the death of Ottocar II (1278), Bratislava and much of S and E Slovakia fell under Hungarian rule. From 1541, when the Turks captured Buda, until 1784, Bratislava served as Hungary's capital and the residence of Hungarian kings and archbishops. The kings continued to be crowned there until 1835, and Bratislava was the meeting place of the Hungarian diet until 1848. Inhabited largely by German traders before the 19th cent., the city then became predominantly Magyar. In the 19th cent. it was the center of the emerging Slovak national revival, and after the union of the Czech and Slovak territories in 1918 it was incorporated into Czechoslovakia. From 1939 until 1945, Bratislava was the capital of a nominally independent Slovak republic that was governed by a fascistic pro-German regime responsible for the murder of tens of thousands of Czechs and Jews. The Univ. of Jan Comenius (1919), the Slovak Academy of Sciences, a polytechnic university, a national theater, and several museums are in the city. The 9th-century castle, above the Danube, was rebuilt in the 13th cent. St. Martin's Cathedral, the Franciscan convent and church, and the old town hall are also 13th-century buildings. The new town hall occupies an 18th-century palace, formerly the residence of the primates of Hungary; the Treaty of Pressburg was signed there in 1805.

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