Past and present

Past and present of Trnava

Trnava, one of the most important towns in Slovakia, is situated in the centre of undulating hill country at a height of 146 metres above sea level, 45 kilometres from the capital of the Slovak Republic, Bratislava.

The first settlements of Trnava and Sobota were founded at the crossroads of old trade routes on the river Trnávka. The first written report about Trnava is from the year 1211 when the donations of a local church to the Esztergom chapter were recorded in the documents of the Esztergom archbishop.

In 1238 Trnava was given the privileges of a free royal town by the Hungarian king Belo IV and thus it became the fi rst royal town in the territory of present-day Slovakia. The town became subordinated directly to the crown. It was granted many rights which resulted in rapid development of the town. Originally established as an agricultural centre, Trnava gradually transformed to a centre of trade and handicrafts.

In the 13th century, the town built remarkable fortifications on an area of almost 60 hectares. The construction of the fortifications included brick towers originally connected by earth/wooden lines which were later replaced by a mason wall.

The importance of Trnava increased mainly in the 16th century when the Esztergom archbishop moved to Trnava to avoid the Turkish threat and Trnava assumed the role of the cultural and religious centre of Hungaria.

The 17th century is considered to be one of the most difficult eras in Slovak history. It was the time of the Slovak uprisings of Hungarian nobility against the Viennese court that affected also the life of Trnava. In a century dominated by wars and fires, Trnava became a university town. In 1635 Peter Pázmány established Trnava University, initially with two faculties only, the Faculty of Philosophy and the Faculty of Theology. The Faculty of Law was opened in 1667 and the Faculty of Medicine in 1769. In the 17th century many merchant houses and churches were built. Old buildings of the Dominican monastery were rebuilt to serve the university. At the beginning of the 18th century Trnava was a famous university town throughout Europe. However, the movement of the university to Buda in 1777 was a loss not only to Trnava, but to the whole of Slovakia.

In the year 1792 Anton Bernolák established the Slovak Learned Company (Sovenské učené tovarišstvo). The municipal theatre was built in 1838 and in June 1846 the first train pulled by horses came from Bratislava to Trnava. Since 1870 the Association of St. Adalbert (Spolok 19 sv. Vojtecha) had helped develop national consciousness in the times of banned activities of the Slovak Cultural Institute (Matica Slovenská).

At present, the historical centre of the town owes its municipal cultural heritage to the many sights which have been standing for centuries. Much of the town centreis bordered by original town fortifications. Visitors can see the town tower, the town hall, a Baroque complex of buildings of the former university and, because of the many well-known Baroque churches Trnava got its nickname, Little Rome.

Since 1996 Trnava has been a regional town with almost 70,000 inhabitants living a richly varied economic, social, cultural and sporting life.