Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia and, with a population of about 462,603, also the country's largest city. Bratislava is in southwestern Slovakia on both banks of the Danube 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 the seat of the Slovak president, the parliament, and the executive branch of the government. 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. The history of the city, long known by the German name Preßburg, has been strongly influenced by people of different nations and religions, namely by Austrians, Czechs, Germans, Hungarians, Slovaks, and Jews. The city was the capital of the Kingdom of Hungary, a part of the larger Habsburg Monarchy territories, from 1536 to 1783 and has been home to many Slovak, Hungarian, and German historical figures.
Bratislava, as it was renamed on 6 March 1919, has been known by many names in different languages throughout its history. Its first recorded name, in the 10th century Annales Iuvavenses, was probably Brezalauspurc (literally: Braslav's castle). Notable alternative names are: German: Pressburg formerly Preßburg [ˈpʁɛsbʊɐk] (still used in German speaking countries today – mostly in Austria, only seldom in Germany), Hungarian: Pozsony (still used in Hungarian today), former Slovak name: Prešporok. Other names are or were: Greek: Ιστρόπολις Istropolis (meaning "Danube City", also used in Latin), Czech: Prešpurk, French: Presbourg, Italian: Presburgo, Latin: Posonium, Croatian: Požun, Romanian: Pojon. The name Pressburg was also used in English language publications until 1919, and it is still occasionally used today. For the history and etymology of the various names, see History of Bratislava. In older documents, confusion can be caused by the Latin forms Bratislavia, Wratislavia etc., which refer to Wrocław (Breslau), Poland – not to Bratislava.
One of the most prominent structures in the city is Bratislava Castle, situated on a plateau 85 metres (279 ft) above the Danube. The castle hill site has been inhabited since the transitional period between the Stone and Bronze ages and has been the acropolis of a Celtic town, part of the Roman Limes Romanus, a huge Slavic fortified settlement, and a political, military and religious centre for Great Moravia. A stone castle was not constructed until the 10th century, when the area was part of the Kingdom of Hungary. The castle was converted into a Gothic anti-Hussite fortress under Sigismund of Luxemburg in 1430, became a Renaissance castle in 1562, and was rebuilt in 1649 in the baroque style. Under Queen Maria Theresa, the castle became a prestigious royal seat. In 1811, the castle was inadvertently destroyed by fire and lay in ruins until the 1950s, when it was rebuilt mostly in its former Theresian style