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Trnava
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Trnava

Trnava (in German Tyrnau (in the Middle Ages: Sumbothal) and Hungarian Nagyszombat, i.e. "Holy Saturday") is a town in western Slovakia, 45 kilometers to the north-east of Bratislava, on the Trnavka river, and at the main Bratislava-Žilina; railway and Bratislava-Žilina limited-access highway. Population: 72,000 (1991). It is the capital of a region (kraj), a Higher Territorial Unit (VÚC) and of a district (okres). It is the see of a Roman Catholic archbishopric (1541-1820 and then again since 1978). The town has an historic center. Because of the many churches within its town walls, Trnava has often been called the "Slovak Rome".

Table of contents
1 Name
2 History
3 Historic Buildings

Name

The name of the town is derived from the Slovak word tŕnie (=thornbush) which characterized the river banks in the region.

History

Permanent settlements on the town‘s territory are known from the neolithic period onwards. An important market settlement arose here at the junction of two important roads (from Bohemia to Hungary and from the Mediterranean to Poland) in the Middle ages.

The first written reference to Trnava dates from 1211. In 1238, Trnava was the first town in Slovakia to be granted a town charter (civic privileges) by the king. The former agricultural centre gradually became a centre of manufacture, trade and crafts. At the turn of the 13th and 14th century, a part of Trnava was enclosed by a (very long) town wall. The original Slovak market settlement, as well as the settlement of numerous German settlers (who were invited to the territory in the early 13th century and especially after the Tatar invasion of 1242), however, stayed behind this wall.

The town was also the place of many important negotiations: Charles Robert, the king of Hungary, signed here a currency agreement with the Czech King John of Luxemburg in 1327, and the emperor Louis I the Great (who often stayed in the town and died there in 1380) signed here a friendship agreement with the Czech King Charles IV in 1360.

The temporary German population majority in the town ceased in favour of the Slovaks during the campaigns undertaken by the Czech Hussites in the 15th century, who were enemies of Germans and made Trnava the center of the campaigns in south-western Slovakia from 1432 to 1435. The town, along with the rest of the territory of present day Slovakia, gained importance after the conquest of most of what is today Hungary by the Turks in 1541, when Trnava became the see (15411820) of the Archbishopric of Esztergom (before 1541 and after 1820 the see was the town of Esztergom, which was conquered by the Turks in 1543). The cathedrals of the archbishopric were the Saint John the Baptist Cathedral and the Saint Nicholas Cathedral in the town. Many ethnic Hungarians fleeing from the Turks moved to the town after 1541 from present-day Hungary.

In the 16th and especially the 17th century, Trnava was an important center of the Counter-Reformation in the Kingdom of Hungary (which was largely identical with the territory of present-day Slovakia and a strip of western Hungary at that time). The Archbishop Nicolas Oláh invited the Jesuits to Trnava in 1561 in order to develop the municipal school system. Subsequently, he had a seminary opened in 1566 and in 1577 Trnava’s priest Nicolas Telegdi founded a book-printing house in Trnava.

The Jesuit Trnava University (1635-1777), the only university of the Kingdom of Hungary at that time, was founded by Archbishop Peter Pázmány. Originally founded to support the counter-reformation, it soon became a center of Slovak education and literature, since most of the teachers, one half of the students and the majority of the town’s inhabitants were Slovaks. From the late 18th century Trnava became a center of the literary and artistic Slovak National Revival. The first standard codification of the Slovak language (by the priest Anton Bernolák in 1787) was based on the Slovak dialect used in the region of Trnava.

The 17th century was also characterized by many anti-Habsburg uprisings in the country – these revolts of Stephen Bocskay, Gabriel Bethlen, George Rákóczi and Imre Thököly negatively affected Trnava’s life.

Till World War II, Trnava was also home to a sizable Jewish minority. Their freedom to move was restricted as early as in 1495 and 1539-1800, and 12 Jews were burned publicly in 1870 during a pogrom.

The importance of the town decreased in the early 19th century, when the university was moved to Buda and the see of the archbishopric moved back to Esztergom. It increased however partly again after 1844, when Trnava was connected with Bratislava through the first railway line in the Kingdom of Hungary, which was a horse railway (steam engines were used since 1872). The railway connection launched a modernization of the town, which started with the erection of a big sugar factory, a malt-house and of the Coburgh’s factory (later referred to as the Trnavské automobilové závody [Trnava Car Factory]). The St. Adalbert Association (Spolok sv. Vojtecha), founded in 1870 when the Slovak Foundation (Matica slovenská) was prohibited by the Hungarian authorities, kept up the Slovak national conscience at a time of strong Magyarisation in Hungary. In the 19th but mainly in the early 20th century the town grew behind its town wall and most of the town wall was demolished in the 19th century.

After the creation of Czechoslovakia in 1918, the town was one of the most industrialized towns of Slovakia. In 1978, by a decision of Pope Paul VI, Trnava became the see of a separate Slovak archbishopric. With the establishment of this archbishopric, Slovakia became independent on Hungary again also in terms of church administration for the first time in centuries.

After the establishment of Slovakia (1993), Trnava became the capital of the newly created Trnavský kraj (region) in 1996. The French car manufacturer PSA began construction of a large automobile plant in Trnava in 2003.

Historic Buildings

As early as in the Middle Ages, Trnava was a significant centre of Gothic sacral as well as profane architecture. The St. Nicolas’ Church, St. Helen’s Church and the church monastery complexes (Clarist’s, Franciscan and Dominican) were built in this period.

The Renaissance (16th century) added a town tower to Trnava’s silhouette. Nicolas Oláh ordered the erection of the Seminary and Archbishop’s Palace. Peter Bornemisza and Huszár Gál, the leading personalities of the reformation in the Kingdom of Hungary, were active in Trnava for a short time. The town ramparts were rebuilt to a Renaissance fortification as a reaction to the approaching Turkish danger from the south.

The 17th century was characterized by the construction of the Pualinian Church that bears badges of Silesian Renaissance. The town was gradually redesigned to Baroque. The erection of the St. John of Baptist Church and of the university campus launched a building rush that continued with the reconstruction of the Franciscan and Clarist’s complexes. Builders and artists called to build the university also participated in improvements of the burgher architecture. The Holy Trinity Statue and the group of statues of St. Joseph, the Ursulinian and Trinitarian Church and Monastery were built in this? century.

The District hospital was built 1824. The building of the theatre started in May 1831 and the first performance was played at Christmas. Both of the Trnava synagogues, historizing structures with oriental motifs, date back to the 19th century.

See also: Slovakia, History of Slovakia