PRESSBURG (Hung. Pozsony, Lat. Posonium), a town of Hungary, capital of the county of the same name, 133 m. N.W. of Budapest by rail. Pop. (1900), 61,537, about half of whom are Germans. Pressburg is picturesquely situated on the left bank of the Danube, at the base of the outlying spurs of the Little Carpathians, in a position of strategical importance near the Porta Hungarica. Pressburg was the capital of Hungary from 1541 until 1784, while the Hungarian parliament held its sittings here till 1848. One of the most conspicuous buildings of the town is the royal palace, situated on the Schlossberg, a plateau 270 ft. above the Danube, which was destroyed by fire in 1811 and has since been in ruins. Other noteworthy buildings are the cathedral, a Gothic edifice of the 13th century, restored in 1861-1880, in which many of the Hungarian kings were crowned; the town hall, also a 13th-century building, several times restored, and containing an interesting museum; the Franciscan church, dating from 1272; and the law-courts, erected in 1783, where the sittings of parliament were held from 1802 to 1848. The Grassalkowitch palace is now the residence of an archduke, and there is an archiepiscopal palace. Educational establishments include an academy of jurisprudence, a military academy, a Roman Catholic and a Protestant seminary, a training school for female teachers, and several secondary and technical schools. A large business is carried on in wooden furniture, tobacco and cigars, paper, ribbons, leather wares, chemicals, liqueurs, confectionery and biscuits. There is, besides, a dynamite factory, which produces over 2,000,000 ℔ of explosives annually, a large cloth factory and several flour-mills. Trade in grain and wine is active. Besides the extensive traffic on the Danube, the town is also an important railway junction. The first railway line in Hungary was that from Pressburg to Tyrnau through the valley of the Waag. The town has many points of interest in its environs. About twenty-five minutes by steamer down the Danube, the extensive ruins of the castle of Theben (Hung. Dévény), the former gate of Hungary, are situated at the point where the March, which forms the boundary between Austria and Hungary, falls into the Danube. Opposite on the left bank is Hainburg, the gateway of Hungary from the Austrian side. Eastward and southward of Pressburg stretches a long and fertile plain, known as the Upper or Little Hungarian plain. It has an area of 2825 sq. m., of which two-thirds lay on the right bank of the Danube, and the whole is bounded by the rivers Neutra and Raab. In the extreme south-west of this plain is situated the lake of Fertö-Tava (Ger. Neusiedler See), which has an area of about 100 sq. m., but it is of varying size, and sometimes dries up in part. Eastward it is united with the extensive marsh called the Hanság, through which it is in communication with the river Raab and with the Danube. In the Roman period it was known as Peïso or Pelso. In several places of the dry bed traces of prehistoric lake-dwellings have been discovered. In conjunction with the regulation of the river Raab, and the drainage of the Hanság marsh, plans for the drainage of the lake have been proposed.
Little is known of the early history of Pressburg, which was founded about 1000. It was soon strongly fortified, though it was captured by the king of Bohemia, Ottakar II., in 1271. It received many privileges from the Hungarian kings, especially from the emperor Sigismund, and its strategic situation made it an important fortress. Sigismund held Imperial diets in the town. After the battle of Mohacs in 1526 and the capture of Buda by the Turks, Pressburg became the capital of Hungary. Here in 1608 the Austrian and Hungarian malcontents concluded a treaty with the archduke Matthias, afterwards emperor, against their lawful sovereign, the emperor Rudolf II. In 1619 the town was taken by Bethlen Gabor, but it was recovered by the Imperialists in 1621. In 1687 it was the scene of the session of the estates of Hungary during which the Hungarians renounced their right of choosing their own king and accepted the hereditary succession of the Habsburgs. Here also was held the diet of 1741 when the members swore to assist their sovereign, Maria Theresa, against Frederick the Great. In 1784 Buda took the place of Pressburg as the capital of Hungary, but the latter town continued to be the seat of the parliament until 1848. On the 26th of December 1805 peace was signed here between Napoleon and the emperor Francis I., and in 1809 the town was bombarded by the French.
See J. Kiraly, Geschichte des Donau- Mauth- und Urfahr-Rechts der Freistadt Pressburg (Pressburg, 1890); T. Ortvay, Geschichte der Stadt Pressburg (Pressburg, 1892), and Pressburgs Strassen und Plätze (Pressburg, 1905).