What’s the Origin of the Noun Bratislava, Capital of Slovakia?

Slovakia appeared on the world map in 1993 after disintegration of the former Soviet block country of Czechoslovakia, and its capital is Bratislava, an old but relatively small city on the Danube river.

Bratislava basic data

As a capital of a country, Bratislava is quite small regarding its population which, as of the moment of writing this text is probably around 600000 – 700000 people. But Slovakia is a small country itself, so this is normal to expect.

The country is one of several central-European land-locked countries, but the city is nicely positioned on the largest European river Danube.

According to data available on Wikipedia, in the past, Bratislava used to be the coronation and legislative center and capital of the Kingdom of Hungary, this was in the period 1536 – 1783. In total, 19 Hungarian kings and queens were crowned in its St Martin’s Cathedral.

In the past, the city has been inhabited by Hungarians, German and Slovaks.

But what’s the origin of the noun Bratislava?

The history of this city is long, the first settlement go back to 5000 BC. Kelts were there, and Romans, before Slavs came in 5-6 century. Did you know that even Turks came there? They besieged and damaged the city but did not manage to get in.

Anyhow, the name Bratislava is Slavic, but it used to be Breslav. The city has been known under the German name of Pressburg and Hungarian name of Pozsony. But there are also several other German versions like Brezesburg, Breizisburg, and Prespurch. In all these versions you can see some similarity with the Slavic root.

Regarding the Hungarian versions of the name, they called it Pozon and Bosan, and this transformed into Posonium and Posony, and finally into the mentioned Pozsony. Apparently this all is because of a prince with a Slavic name named Božan.


But far before that, the city was also known under the names Uratislaburgium (do you see the Slavic root here?) and Istropolis, the later came together with Christianization.

Much later, more precisely in 1919, it was accepted as Bratislava which is a purely Slavic name of course.

I have found some information that the present name is a misinterpretation by an important historian of the name Braslav or Breslav that he interpreted as Břetislaw, and this later became Bratislav.

You could split the name into two words Brati and Slava which would mean ‘brothers’ and ‘glory’. So go figure.

But this all makes no much sense, the name Bratislav is a quite common Slavic male name, you have it also in Serbia, I personally know somebody with this name. You will find many Slavic names with such two parts that both have some meaning. Here you have Bratislava, which is simply a female Slavic name.

Bratislava location 

Below you have an interactive Google map with Bratislava. Please zoom in to see all the details. Observe that it is very close to the border with Austria, as well as to the border with Hungary. You can see this if you zoom out.

So this is one peculiar detail about this city, there are no many examples of capitals that are at the borders of two neighboring countries. Note also that in the city area, Danube is not the actual border with Austria.


Here is an official video about the capital of Slovakia, Bratislava:

Do they speak English in Bratislava? Do Slovakian people speak Russian?

Yes, you will definitely be able to communicate in English, this holds in particular with younger people.

As mentioned, this country was a part of the former Soviet block, and Russian used to be a study language. So most of Slovakian will understand or be fluent in Russian. Note also that their own native is a Slavic language and this means quite close to Russian.

Is Bratislava a walkable city? How many days do you need in Bratislava?

The answer on the first question is yes, I have found an information on a site that its walkability index is among the highest possible 4.75. In practical terms, all key points worth visiting are accessible on foot.

In view of this, you do not need much time to see the city, but then again, this depends on how much you want to see and in how many details. Plan a couple of days to be sure. In this sense it is quite similar to Warsaw, the capital of Poland, which is a much larger city in every sense.

Why are Vienna and Bratislava so close?

I do not think there is an answer, it happened so, and both are on Danube river as well. Indeed, Bratislava and Vienna are among the two of the closest capitals in the world, the distance is around 60-70 kilometers. But there are even closer capitals as you can see in my separate text.

What is the currency in Slovakia?

Slovakia is a part of EU and they have adopted Euro as their official currency.

Does it snow in Bratislava in December?

The answer is yes, this is central Europe, and you can expect severe winters with lots of snow.

Which is better Prague or Bratislava?

Prague is the capital of the neighboring Check Republic, and it is much larger and far more impressive than Bratislava, I would say beyond comparison. Prague is a far more popular tourist destination.

Is Vienna or Bratislava better?

It depends on what you think with ‘better’. Vienna is a city that used to be the capital of an empire. In my view, it is too big for the size of the present Austria. So the cities cannot be compared in this sense.

There is little doubt that Bratislava is more affordable, just to know if you are on a tour through European capitals.

So this was my answer about the name of the capital of Slovakia, together with a few more answers on related questions. You might want to check also my text about the capital of nearby Poland.

Thank you for reading, let me know if you want me to include some more information in this or in any other text here in the site. There is a comment box below. Have a nice day.

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