Having been settled for 6,000 years, Nitra is home to immense history and tradition. With cultural influences and rulers varying from Germanic tribes to Celts to Slavs, little gems of the past are to be found wherever you lay your eyes. As the oldest settlement in all of Sovakia, it is also home to the oldest Cathedral inside the walls of the castle. Honourable Saints and Bishops have inhabited Nitra in the past, and laid the groundwork for a city that, to this day, is thriving as one of the most bustling and influential cities in Slovakia.
Nitra has the reputation of the most ancient city in Slovakia, founded on the slopes of seven hills and both sides of the river Nitra, to which the city owes its name. Nitra has extraordinary historical importance as one of the first settlements, making it a place rich with culture and heritage. It is sometimes referred to as the “mother of Slovak towns”.
Nitra is also known as the place where the first Christian Church was built in the year 828 A.D. Cyril and Methodius, the patron Saints of Europe, both preached in this church, and in 880 the first Slavic diocese was established here. During the Great Moravian Empire, the city was one of the largest settlements in Central Europe, and remained an important centre of commerce until the late Habsburg Empire. The old town and the castle (the largest castle in Slovakia), introduce us to the local history. Nitra is the seat of various institutions, universities, theatres and museums and a well-known location of fairs as well as a modern centre of industries. Every year a wide range of social, cultural and sports events attract a multitude of visitors.
Nitriansky Hrad: Nitra castle
Nitra Castle sits in the north of the city, with the heavily wooded areas surrounding the hill providing natural protection in the early days of its founding. The hill on which it sits has been the site of many fortifications, the original built by the Celts, and the current founded by Slavs who arrived in the 5th century. Built in the 11th century on a limestone rock, surrounded by the winding river, the medieval castle of Nitra is a true landmark. It is composed of four different parts: the cathedral, the bishop palace, the outbuildings and the outer walls, with one entrance gate. The cathedral combines three buildings of different architectural styles: the Romanesque Church of St. Emmeram (11th century), the Upper Church (14th century, originally gothic) and the Lower Church (17th century).
Nitra’s synagogue was built in 1910-1911, following the project of Leopold Baumhorn in the Moorish-Byzantine style. Originally, there were three synagogues in Nitra, but only this one was preserved. The façade is rugged and decorated by oriental ornaments. The main entrance on the south side is accentuated by massive wooden doors and five wooden footboards. The interior is formed by an atrial space, covered by a huge dome. After a 20 years-long renovation, the synagogue reopened its doors in 2003. Nowadays, the area of Synagogue is actually used as a concert and exhibition hall, serving as a place for theater, music, scenic and other performances.
Opened in 1962, Nitra Museum waited until the 1990’s to find its own proper walls. Now lodged in the building of the town hall on Štefánikova trieda, it remains a popular place, collecting artefacts in the fields of botanics, zoology, archeology, history, ethnography and numismatics. The museum has been pursuing original activities allowing for a great democratization of culture for the citizens: the institution has collaborated with schools, study circles, informal groups and individuals, organizing concerts, theatre representations, a gallery for children’s art, and lectures. The permanent exhibitions include a unique collection of archaeological findings from the Stone Age to the 18th century from the whole territory of Slovakia. It is the best place to learn about Nitra and its surrounding region throughout history.