Bratislava: City of Peace

The area in which Bratislava is built was occupied at least since the neolithic era, around 3500 years BCE. It was an important crossroad of two important routes leading around the Danube River from the Mediterranean Sea to the Baltic Sea. Here, on a frequented river crossing, was an important Celtic settlement at least since the 1st century CE. and at around the same time, we can track the presence of Roman troops staying here up until the 4th century CE. After the decline of the Roman Empire, Lombards shortly occupied the area until Slavic tribes settled here around the 5th-6th century. However, it is possible that these tribes arrived even sooner, but for this claim, we need further archaeological and historical research. These first Slavic settlers were building a sustainable culture and this process was hardly interrupted by Avar invasions. In the 9th century, Slavs formed the first known state known as Moravia Magna.

We can track the foundation of the first important Slavic settlement in the Bratislava area from this period. It was most likely centred around the Bratislava castle site. The first mention of the building preceding the castle is from the year 907 when it was already a settlement of Slavic princes. The city was slowly built around it and received the official status of a free royal city in 1291. The castle area, and now also the castle, remained the central point for political power. The current form has its roots in the 15th century initiated by the emperor Sigismund of Luxembourg.  After some additional construction during the renaissance era, the castle received a makeover into a monumental fortress. However, the last major reconstruction between the years 1750-1760 transformed the fortress into an appropriate residence for proud Habsburg emperors.

The castle was an important building for another reason – in 1522, a Hungarian crown was stored on its premises for the first time. Later, in 1608, it was decided that coronation insignias would be stored in Bratislava. They were guarded in a special tower until 1784 when the emperor Joseph II order them to be moved to Vienna.

After a military defeat at the Battle of Mohacs in 1526, Turks occupied the southern part of the Hungarian kingdom. Therefore in winter 1535 an important event took place in the city – a council was held, on which a law was passed to name Bratislava the capital of Hungary. Despite this, the royal court stayed in Vienna.  

Bratislava had also become a coronation city. The first ruler to be crowned there was Maximilian II. from the Habsburg dynasty on 2.9.1563 in St. Martin Cathedral. Between 1563-1830, there were 19 coronations in total that took place in St. Martin Cathedral. The last crowned king was Ferdinand V. on 28.9.1830.

Bratislava had several nicknames through the centuries. One of them is romantic – Beauty on the Danube, while the other one was labelled as a result of communist propaganda: City of peace. After the revolution in 1989, this slogan literarily disappeared from numerous facades when people were trying to erase the memory of the regime. However, the attribute was well-deserved, since there are at least three recorder peace treaties that were signed in Bratislava:

A peace treaty between Hungarian king Stephen V. and Czech king Otakar II., in 1271. In the contract, the Hungarian king gave up rights for the Steiermark area, Corutania and Kransko, while the Czech king returned the area gained earlier the same year.
After the peace treaty between Gabriel Betlen and emperor Ferdinand II in 1626. The contract confirmed Mikulov's peace from four years ago, in which Betlen gave up the title of king of Hungary. Instead, he received a prince title and lifetime rule over seven Hungarian areas. In Bratislava, Betlen promised not to fight against the emperor or side with the Turks.
Pressburger Paix is one of the best-known peace treaties. Signed on 26.12:1805 in Primate’s Palace after the Battle of Austerlitz, known as The Battle of three emperors. The Austrian side was represented by prince Lichtenstein and for France, it was the minister of foreign affairs Charles Maurice Talleyrand-Perigord. Defeated Austria and let go of Tyrol, Vorarlberg and other lands. This peace meant that Austria had lost control over Germany and Italy, thus making the end of the Holy Roman empire.
Bratislava is a city, in which we can hear echoes of European history beyond the borders of Slovakia. Therefore, there is no shame in using the nickname City of peace – it is not an invention of a regime, but a statement built on historical evidence.