Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia, and with a population of about 450,000, it is one of the smaller capitals of Europe but still the country’s largest city. The greater metropolitan area is home to more than 650,000 people. Bratislava is in southwestern Slovakia, occupying both banks of the River Danube and the left bank of the River Morava. Bordering Austria and Hungary, it is the only national capital that borders two sovereign states.
Bratislava is a delightful mix of new, old and downright historic. The city center is criss-crossed with winding cobblestoned roads, candy-colored 18th-century rococo buildings, pedestrian plazas and welcoming street cafes. Venture outside the center, and you will see bizarre communist constructions and block after block of institutional housing. The skyline’s most prominent feature is an age-old castle, but it is nearly overshadowed by a 1970s bridge that looks like a UFO. That is Bratislava, where the city is constantly evolving while still holding on to its rich past.