Bratislava, the capital of the Slovak Republic is situated on the Danube between Vienna and Budapest. The first traces of settlement on the Castle Hillock stem from the period between the Stone and Bronze Age. In the younger Iron Age the Celts and after them the Romans repeatedly fortified the hillock and left many traces of their culture and highly developed crafts. The Castle Hilloch and its Slavonic castle were of importance also in the period of the Great Moravian Empire. For the first time, the name of the castle was found recorded on coins issued by the first Hungarian king Stephan I (1000-1038) with engraving "PRESLAVA CIV", which could mean Castle of Preslav (Breslav). Its importance can be characterized by the fact that the Tartars devastating the country (1241-1242) were not able to capture the castle. The town's prestige grew especially under rulers Sigismund of Luxemburg and Matthias Corvinus. The first one turned Bratislava into a key fortress by rebuilding the castle and the town fortifications. By setting up the Academia Istropolitana in 1465, Matthias Corvinus promoted Bratislava the cultural centre of his empire.
In 16th century, after the occupation of Hungary by Turks, Bratislava became the capital of the empire and the coronation city of Hungarian kings for three centuries.
Since the establishment of Czechoslovakia in 1918, Bratislava has grown to the centre of political life, culture, science and education of Slovakia and rapidly increased the size and number of inhabitants up to 400 thousand. Bratislava s dominant is the ancient castle soaring above the Danube. It serves as the representative seat of the highest Slovak state and national offices. Numerous visitors can find there historical exhibitions of the Slovak National Museum and the magnificent view of the Danube and the town panorama. In the Bratislava's historic core concentrated on a small area one can find a real manual of the European culture history: cultural, historical and artistic monuments, over 20 churches and chapels dominated by the coronation church - St Martin's Cathedral from the 14th century. One can enjoy numerous museums and galleries and then test the traditional Central European gastronomy in numerous restaurants and wine-cellars.
Shopping, Banks and Post Offices
The most shops are small and sell specific goods. For groceries, head to the potraviny, which stocks basic foods and a range of dairy products and meat (but often kept behind the counter). Fruits and vegetables are sold at ovocie-zelenina stores and stands, and meats under the mäso sign. Pekáreň means a bakery, and lahôdky is like a delicatessen, with various kinds of groceries, sandwiches, salads, pastries, and hot foods. Cleaning and personal hygiene products are sold at the drogéria and stationery at the papiernictvo.
Outside the city centre, two companies (Tesco and Carrefour) have built large stores which offer the complete shopping experience. They are situated near the Starohajska Street Hall, only 10 minutes by bus number 97.
Banks and Exchange Offices
For personal safety it is recommended that you change your money in banks or currency exchange offices: look for signs saying zmenáreň or "change". Exchange offices are found in banks, travel agencies, big stores, and hotels. Repurchase of currency is possible when the bank/exchange office receipt is presented. There is a charge for such buy - back operations. Another option for money is the automatic teller machines (ATMs), usually marked as bankomat, and advertising either a MasterCard, Visa, Cirrus or Plus. Credit cards like EuroCard/MasterCard, Visa and American Express are accepted in big stores, post offices, banks, travel agencies and hotels. Some exchange offices also accept credit cards.
Post offices offer a wide variety of services. You can make phone calls and buy phone cards, pay bills, send a telegram, get film developed, buy stamps, and, of course, send mail. Often, the simplest thing to do with outgoing mail is to hand it to the person behind the counter, who will then stamp and send it for you. Letters within Slovakia cost approximately 6 Sk, postcards overseas cost 9 Sk, and letters overseas cost 12 Sk. Post offices are open every weekday (opening hours vary); there is a post office which stays open into the night in the main Railway Station complex. The Central Post Office (Namestie SNP) operates Mon-Fri from 7:00am until 8:00pm; Saturday from 7:00am until 6:00pm and Sunday from 9:00am until 2:00pm.
If you make a call from a public telephone you can use coins or a phone card. Telephone cards can be bought at a post office or at selected newspaper kiosks from 150 Sk.
The international code for the Slovak Republic is ++421, followed by the calling code for the particular area (for internal calls this includes an initial zero), and then the individual number. International calling cards can also be used.
Telephone calls for emergency numbers (see bellow) are free of charge. Emergency centres offer a permanent service including car accident and repair on practically all types of vehicle.
Important telephone numbers:
Official site of Bratislava: www.bratislava.sk
All about Bratislava: www.worldcities.info/bratislava/bratislava.html
Bratislava Information Service: www.bratislava.sk/BIS/e/eindex.htm
Bratislava Hotels & Tourist Guide: www.clickbratislava.com
Bratislava Hotels at Discount Prices: www.hotelsslovakia.com
Accomodation in general: http://www.ubytujsa.sk
Public transport in Bratislava: www.imhd.sk
Institute of Chemistry
Slovak Academy of Sciences