Bratislava is the capital of the Slovak Republic, the seat of the President, government and parliament, and the political, cultural and economic centre of the country. It spreads out on both banks of the river Danube, near the Austrian and Hungarian borders, having almost half a million inhabitants.
The history of BA:
Castles and settlements were built in the place where the river Danube meets the Carpathian Mountains. BA was an important crossroads of military and trade routes. The Celts who built there a prehistoric town called oppidum. During the Great Moravian Empire BA Castle with the Devín Castle were important strategic and administrative centers. BA was granted the town privileges in 1291 by King Andrew III.
In the 16th century the Kingdom of Hungary joined the Habsburg Monarchy and BA became its capital city as well as the seat of the parliament. During the next 300 years 19 kings and queens (among them queen Maria Theresia) were crowned in this cathedral. The last Hungarian parliamentary session was held in BA during the revolution of 1848. This was very important for the Slovak nation because deputy Ľudovít Štúr made there his famous speech defending the national rights of the Slovaks.
Every century has left here some historical and cultural relics. Medieval Bratislava Castle is the dominant building of the city. The first settlement was situated on the castle hill in the earlier Stone Age. The first Romanesque stone palace was built in the 12th century. The Renaissance reconstruction took place in the 16th century. In the 18th century the castle became a luxurious royal palace. In 1811 it was almost completely destroyed by fire and remained in ruins for nearly 150 years. Today is there the Slovak National Museum installed. The historical centre of BA was once encircled by a wall and 4 entrance gateways. Michael’s Gateway is the only one to be preserved.
The Old Town Hall originally built in Gothic style in the 14th century was the private house of the town mayor Jacob. Also Gothic in its origin is the building of the Academia Istropolitana built by King Mathias Corvinus. St Martin’s Cathedral is situated below the Castle Hill. The golden crown reminds us of its function as a coronation church. In Klariská Street the Gothic Church of the Clarissa Order serves today as a concert hall. Baroque and Renaissance in style are for example the Grassalkovič Palace, the seat of the President, the Aspremont Palace, belonging to the Medical Faculty, and the Archbishop Summer Residence, the seat of the Government. The Palace of the Hungarian Diet is now the University Library. The most remarkable building of the Neo-Classical style is the Primate Palace. In 1903 it was served as a town hall. In its unique Hall of Mirrors the Peace of Pressburg between Napoleon and the Austrian Emperor Franz I was signed in 1805, after the Battle of Austerlitz. But BA isn’t only a historical city. New residential areas have been built on the outskirts. It is an important road, rail, air and river transport junction.
Important national cultural, scientific and educational institutions are concentrated in BA: the Slovak National Theatre, the Slovak National Gallery, the Slovak Academy of Science as well as universities like Comenius University, the Slovak Technical Unicersity, the University of Economics, the Academy of Fine Arts etc.
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