Date updated: 07/12/2023
Komárno is a cosy, medium-sized Slovak town with an incredibly beautiful square in the centre of the quarters, fabulous houses and typical European architecture. It has a laid-back atmosphere with cobbled streets, brightly decorated shop fronts and welcoming cafés and restaurants.
The German name is Komorn, the Hungarian is Komárom and the Serbian is Komoran.
The city lies on the banks of the rivers Danube and Váh. It occupies the territory of Žitný Island (south-west of the country). It is a separate community and the administrative centre of the Komárno District of the Nitra Region.
From a historical perspective, it is a multi-ethnic settlement, divided by the national border and the Danube River. One part of it is situated on the left bank. The other, smaller part is called Komarom and belongs to Hungary. The dominance of the Hungarian ethnic group can be seen in both urban conglomerates. In the early 2000s, the János Széjé University was opened in Komárno, with instruction in Hungarian. It is the only institution of higher education of its kind in Slovakia.
A historical tour
Civilisation in this area began with Roman settlements. One of them was discovered on the modern territory of Komarno. Two thousand years ago it was called Brigetio and dates back to the first century A. D. The expansion of the Roman Caesars lasted until the fourth century. The expansion of the Roman Caesars lasted until the fourth century. The region was then invaded by barbarian tribes.
The sixth century saw the colonisation of the Danubian lands by the Avars and Slavs. Already in the eighth century, this territory was part of the newly formed state called Great Moravia. But the removal of Ugrian tribes to the Danube in the ninth century soon radically changed the political and social scene in Europe. A century later the fortifications were built in Komárno and a separate administrative region was formed.
The first documentary evidence of the town dates back to 1075.
The local inhabitants were given the town charter only several centuries later, in 1265. It was a well-deserved gift from the Hungarian ruler Béla IV. In the course of another three centuries Komárno was booming economically. The town visibly increased its regional and political importance up to the Turkish wars. In the sixteenth century the inhabitants of Komarno build the so called Old Fortress as a protection against the expansion of the Ottoman Empire. It lasted only for one century, and therefore a strong defence system was built in the seventeenth century. The renewed fortress is a true masterpiece of fortification. The Turkish janissaries never managed to take it by storm.
When the wars died down, the town began a new boom. Komarno quickly became the most prosperous centre of trade and crafts development in the Austrian Empire. The town was particularly favoured by Maria Theresia. In 1745 she granted the town of Komorno the royal privileges. The second half of the 18th century saw the completion of the present-day fortress in the town. It became the most important link in the Austro-Hungarian defence chain.
Since 1898 Komárno was a shipyard. The new shipyard raised the city's status to shipbuilding. At the same time a bridge was also built. It significantly increased the importance of the town in terms of trade. The improved logistics became a serious factor for the new economic upturn. By that time Komárno was one of the five biggest cities in the Hungarian part of the Empire. It also included Újszöny, the city quarters on the other side of the Danube.
The break-up of the Austro-Hungarian Empire drastically changed the fate of the city. It was divided into two unequal parts - with the location in the first Czechoslovak Republic and Hungary as one of the successors of the empire. Twenty years later, the Czechoslovak lands on the Danube were forcibly annexed to Hungary (under the Munich Agreement and the First Vienna Arbitration). For seven years Komárno was a solid urban conglomerate, but the arrival of the Red Army changed the situation. The Danube took on the role of a watershed, a national boundary for the two parts of the city for the second time. They now maintain close ties and the inhabitants actively cooperate socially, culturally and ethnographically. Since the middle of the last decade, this process has also been actively promoted by the Janoš Šejík University.
The economic boom associated with shipbuilding
In the postwar period, the shipyard Narodny Podnik Skoda Komarno (Slovenske Lodenicen. p. Komarno) fulfilled orders from the Czechoslovak government and friendly countries.
The shipyard built dozens of river ships for the Soviet Union (e. g. October Revolution at the end of the 1950s and another fourteen of the same design). In the seventies the shipyard built ten large river vessels of an improved class. Today, craftsmen from Komárno are engaged in repairing vessels.
What is the first thing that catches your eye here? The mix of languages, cultures and architectural styles. The dominant language in Komárno is Hungarian, not Slovak. Even the signs in the shops and the many places of entertainment are in two different languages. And sometimes... just in Hungarian. The unsophisticated tourist may ask - where am I? Am I in Hungary by any chance? How do you distinguish between the part of the city on the left bank and the part on the right bank? To solve this question, the locals use a term: Észak Komárom. The designation of the Slovak quarters is North Komárno.
The historical centre of Slovak Komárno is full of interesting historic buildings. There are many interesting sights to see. They remind you of your glorious past at every turn. Visitors and guests alike can take a dip in the thermal springs or head over the majestic Danube for a stroll across the Hungarian side of town.
Take note. Komárno is one of the oldest towns in the country. It was formed at the confluence of two rivers, the Danube and the Váh (the Latin word vagus refers to the restless and disorderly character of the river, which was constantly changing its course). Near Komarno, archaeologists recently discovered the ancient defensive camp of Kelemantia. This was an important border crossing point in the so-called limes romanus, a defensive line against barbarian raids.
The most beautiful old buildings decorate the central pedestrian area of the city. It is dominated by the New Renaissance town hall, a typical symbol of administrative power in European cities. An original tower dominates the building. Next to the town hall is the Column of the Trinity, a seventeenth-century work of art. If you walk a few dozen metres, you can explore the Writers' Union Palace of Culture. This was its name in the recent past. But now it is home to the Podunajský Museum. It tells the fascinating history of Komárno and its inhabitants and has a number of interesting exhibitions and displays.
Courtyard of Europe
It is located near the former Palace of Culture. It is a recreational and daily entertainment area for hundreds of visiting tourists. People are attracted by the bright, colourful attractions. Courtyard Europa was built on a large half-hectare site at the end of the last millennium. Here you'll find a dozen shops, cafés and restaurants, fascinating galleries and beautiful buildings built in various architectural styles. They reflect the spirit and building preferences of Europe's forty-five regions. There is a square in the middle of the tourist zone, a well-kept public garden and a fountain. There are statues of historical figures in the courtyard.
The historical centre of Komárno is connected to the square by three gates. They are dedicated to three rulers - Bela IV, St. Stephen and Maria Theresa. A special attraction is the working well model replicated from the Middle Ages in front of the administrative building. One of the most authentic sights in Komarno is the gate of Matěj I. It closes the park of the Zich Palace from the inside. Its shape and colours match the architectural style of the reign of the famous king. His name is inseparably linked with the history of the city by the Danube.
A beautiful building in the English Neo-Gothic style. Its original purpose was to house the officers and generals of the Imperial Army. The barracks has become one of the most interesting historical and architectural monuments in the city.
Another name for the powerful medieval fortification is Komarom. The fortification served as a reliable defence against external enemies for many centuries (XV - XIX). Its peculiarity is its location on both sides of the Danube River. Today these are parts of two sovereign states - Slovakia and Hungary.
The first fortifications were built during the reign of King Béla IV. In the fifteenth century Italian architects built the so-called Old Castle. In the sixteenth century it was reinforced by bastions. The new castle was the result of the enlargement and fortification of the military structure during the Turkish invasions in the seventeenth century. The castle was rebuilt again in the early to mid-nineteenth century, enhanced by forts and a rebuilt citadel.
By the nineteenth century the fortress had become the largest and most important defensive structure in the empire. It could easily hold two hundred thousand soldiers.
The main and the most important part of the fortress in terms of warfare was situated on the Slovak side. The Palatine and Váža fortresses are national cultural monuments. Both fortresses now house museums.
The fortification system had been largely preserved. Some parts of the fortress were destroyed in the first half of the last century. This applies to the outer perimeter of the central castle and Bastion I, of which only the Bratislava Gate and a fragment of the rebuilding have been preserved.
In the Vazhskaya Line, a section of the walls between the ninth and tenth batteries was rebuilt. Damage to the Old and New Fortress was caused by the Soviets who used these fortifications from 1968 to 1991. Today the Central Fortress (old and new) is the property of the town of Komárno and is not used for any specific purpose.
The fortification system is intended primarily for tourism and the town's population as a recreational area.
A historical and educational trail operates in some parts of the fortress.
The route is designed so that the visitor has an opportunity to get acquainted with the most interesting parts of the fortifications, as well as the moats, communications, shooting galleries, casemates, bastions and so on.