Bratislava

The pearl of the Danube is called the capital city of Slovakia - Bratislava. Bratislava city with a population of about 460,000 is the largest city in the country. It is situated in south-western Slovakia on both banks of the Danube River and on the left bank of Morava river. Bordering Austria and Hungary, it is the only national capital that borders two independent countries. Bratislava is the political, cultural and economic centre of Slovakia. It is seat of the Slovak president, the parliament, and the Slovak Executive. It is home to several universities, museums, theatres, galleries and other important cultural and educational institutions. Many of Slovakia's large businesses and financial institutions also have headquarters there.

Bratislava has 2000 years of rich history dating back to Celtic times. It has been part of the Roman Empire, over centuries attracted royal families such as the Habsburgs and has seen coronations of Hungarian kings including the empress Maria Theresa. However, the last century was not kind to Bratislava. Its multiculturalism and charm was damaged during World War II, followed by 40 years of communism. In the course of these years many have forgotten Bratislava’s legendary past.

The most typical symbol of the capital is Bratislava Castle. The castle has a shape of the upside-down table. The first written accounts about the castle date from the 13th century. There are great views over the mediaeval old town and the Danube valley from its fortifications. The Slovak National Museum is located in the castle at present.

The second historical monument which characterizes the Bratislava is St. Martin’s Cathedral. This cathedral is situated below the Bratislava Castle and it was built in the 13th century in the Gothic style. Former Hungarian kings and queens were crowned there. Quite close to this, on the confluence of the Danube and the Moravia – there is situated the second castle. It is called Devin and it is the symbol of Slovak mutuality.

The city itself offers many attractions. Bratislava's long history - as home to Celts, Romans, Germans, Hungarians, Jews, and of course Slovaks - means there is an impressive range of architecture, languages and cuisine. Handsome homes of the Austro-Hungarian noble families were built in the city, and many of them are now open to the public as museums and galleries. Bratislava was once one of the most important centres of Jewish learning in Europe. A unique memorial to its most renowned rabbi, the Chatam Sofer, and the city's Museum of Jewish Culture celebrate this heritage.

The Danube River itself is, of course, one of the city's main assets. There are several cafes along its banks, within walking distance of the centre. The “UFO” contains an eponymous bar high above the river. The pedestrian decks of the New and Old Bridges are good places to watch the river traffic, including huge Danube barges, glide past. Alternatively, you can take to the water yourself: daily hydrofoil services link the city with nearby Vienna.

A succession of four- and five-star hotels has opened in the city over the past few years and quality accommodation is now readily available.

Slovak special food and drinks are served in the downtown of the city. Numerous restaurants offering international cuisine and excellent local beer and wine fill the city centre, alongside lively bars, lounges and clubs.

Following link provides you more information about the history, attractions, accommodations, museums, shopping, restaurants, transportation and map:

http://www.bratislava.info