Trnava history



Fertile plain of Trnava range of hills attracted man for ages to settle here. Existence of significant ancient commercial crossroads gave the town an impulse to be found. Across Trnava territory run two important roads, one from Czech to Hungary and another from Mediterranean to Poland. At their junction rose a market settlement. The first written reference about Trnava is from 1211. It is archbishop’s John of Esztergom act about donation of earnings of local Trnava church to members of Esztergom chapter.

Trnava as the first town in Slovakia was granted by the Hungarian King Belo IV free royal privileges in 1238. The privilege subordinated the town directly to the King and assigned the town rights enabling its fast development. Former agricultural centre gradually become a centre of manufacture, trade and crafts. At the beginning of the 13th century the town built an extraordinarily large fortification that enclosed 60 ha area. The ramparts, gates and moats as well as a sophisticated system of water defence made from Trnava an impregnable fortress. Arrival of Clarist’s, Franciscan and Dominican Orders documents the transformation of the former settlement to the town. The Hungarian Kings supported the town’s chartered status with another granted privileges. Trnava’s significance backed also the fact that it was chosen by kings as a place of their meetings. The Hungarian King Charles Robert signed here with the Czech King John of Luxembourg a currency agreement in 1327. The Hungarian Emperor Luis I who often stayed and died in Trnava in 10.9.1382 signed here a friendly agreement with the Czech King Charles IV.

Trnava was already in the Middle Age a significant centre of extent Gothic sacral as well as profane architecture. St. Nicolas’ Church, St. Helen’s Church and church monastery complexes (Clarist’s, Franciscan and Dominican) were built in this period. In 1432 the Hussites garrison led by Blažek of Borotín conquered the town and for 3 years controlled south-western region of Slovakia. After Turkish army occupation of the central Hungary Hungarian inhabitants arrived to Trnava. In 1543 when Turks invaded Esztergom archbishop of Esztergom and the chapter moved to Trnava. Trnava become cultural and religious centre of the country. Archbishop Nicolas Oláh merged an old municipal school with the chapter school and in 1544 issued the famous school rules. In 1561 he invited to Trnava Jesuits who were expected to develop the town school system. Archbishop Nicolas Oláh opened the seminary in 1566 and in 1577 Trnava’s priest Nicolas Telegdi found a book-printing house in Trnava. Renaissance added a town tower to Trnava silhouette. Nicolas Oláh ordered erection of the seminary and archbishop’s palace. Peter Bornemisza and Huszár Gál, the leading personages of the Hungarian reformation were short time active in Trnava. The town ramparts were rebuilt to Renaissance fortification as a reaction to approaching Turkish danger.

The 17th century is considered as one of the worst periods of Slovak history. It is characteristic of Hungarian aristocracy professional uprising against Habsbourg court in Vienna. Štefan Bočkay’s, Gabriel Betlen’s, Juraj Rákoczi’s and mainly Imrich Tököli’s revolts disfavourly influenced Trnava’s life. In the 17th century Trnava become cultural centre of the Hungarian lands. Cardinal Peter Pázmány found Trnava University in November 1635, the sole Hungarian university of that time. The first opened Faculties were that of Philosophy and Theology. In 1667 was established Law faculty and in 1769 Medical Faculty. Trnava University according to wish of its founder should be opened to all nationalities living in the Hungary. Teaching language was Latin. University had its own printing house, library, archive, pharmacy, astronomic observatory, botanical garden and rich collection of music. In 1777 the university moved to Buda and Trnava lost its priority of significant university seat. Later also archbishop and the chapter left Trnava for Esztergom. Pualinian Church that bears badges of Silesian Renaissance was erected in the 17th century. The town was step-by-step redesigned to Baroque. Erection of St. John of Baptist Church and university campus started the building rush that continued with reconstruction of Franciscan and Clarist’s complexes. Builders and artists called to build up university participated also on decoration of burgher architecture. The Statue of St. Trinity and the group of statues of St. Joseph, Ursulinian and Trinitarian Church and Monastery were built.

Anton Bernolák, who worked in Trnava at the end of the 18th century, established here the main stand of Slovak Educational Craftsmanship. District hospital was built in Trnava in 1824. In 1831, on active support of Trnava’s burghers, started building works on the theatre (the erection started in May 1831 and the first performance was played in Christmas).

Both Trnava synagogues, historizing structures with oriental motifs, dates back to the 19th century. The very first horse railway in Hungary, leading from Bratislava to Trnava started its operation in 1846. Steam engine was used from 1872. Railway connection opened up expected economic boom that started with the erection of big sugar factory, malt-house and Coburgh’s factory. St. Adalbert Association that kept up Slovak national conscience in the time of national oppression, when the Slovak Foundation was closed, was found in 1870. In the 19th but mainly in the beginning of the 20th century the town grew behind its ramparts.

According to the decision of Pope Paul VI in 1977 was in Trnava assigned the first independent church province. Number of cultural monuments truthfully reflects the Trnava history. In order to its salvage Trnava was declared the Town Historic Reserve in 1987.

During the state government reforms in 1996 Trnava become the seat of Trnava region.