Trnava is one of the oldest and most beautiful medieval towns in Slovakia. It is situated in a fertile plain under the Little Carpathians on the main commercial roads of Europe, near to other medieval towns in Central Europe.
It was probably founded at the end of the 9th century at the junction of important long-distance merchant roads as a small market village, named after the day when the market was held - Saturday. The first written reference of Trnava dates from 1211.
Trnava was the first town in the territory of Slovakia that was granted free royal privileges by the King Béla IV. in 1238. The original Bill of Privileges is deposited in the National Archives in Trnava. The privilege subordinated the town directly to the Crown and the assigned town rights enabled its fast development. The original agricultural center began to change gradually into a center of manufacture, trade and crafts. In the first half of the 13th century, the town built an extensive fortification system on an area of almost 60 hectares. It was one of the largest fortifications in Europe of that time. The Kings of Kingdom of Hungary supported the town´s chartered status with further privileges. Trnava became a place where the Kings of Kingdom of Hungary held important negotiations. It was a favourite city of King Louis I. who often stayed here and who died in Trnava in 1382.
In the Middle Ages, Trnava became an important town with extensive gothic architecture, both sacral and secular. In this period, St. Nicolas Basilica, St. Helen’s Church and the monastery complexes (Franciscan, of Poor Ladies, and Dominican) were built.
The importance of Trnava grew in the 16th century, when it became an important trade center in Kingdom of Hungary. In 1543, the Archbishop with chapter from Esztergom moved into Trnava, and for almost 300 years, the town remained a cultural capital of Kingdom of Hungary. This was a significant impulse for development of education, arts and architecture in the town.
The renaissance contributed to the town silhouette with the Town Tower. With the establishment of the university in Trnava, in November 1635 by Cardinal Peter Pázmány, Trnava became well known in the whole world as a cultural center. In 1777, as ordered by Maria Theresa, the University of Trnava was moved to Buda and Trnava lost its priority as the seat of a university. Almost half a century later, the Archbishop and the chapter moved from Trnava back to Esztergom. In the 17th century, the Pauline Church was built, that bears the marks of the Silesian renaissance.
The renaissance period was followed by the baroque period. It began with the construction of the Church of St. John of Baptist, the complex of university buildings and the monastic complexes of the Order of Poor Ladies and of the Franciscan Order. Many architects and artists were called to help with the construction of university buildings and they contributed much to the decoration of middle class houses. The interior of the town was enriched by many valued statues – the Holy Trinity Statue and St. Joseph Statue.
During the 18th century, two churches with monasteries were built in Trnava – the Church of the Holy Trinity (now the church of the Jesuits) and the Ursuline church. At the end of the 18th and in the first half of the 19th century, Trnava became a center of catholic intellectuals who contributed much to the awakening of national consciousness of Slovaks. Anton Bernolak was the most outstanding personality of this movement; he established the main office of the Slovak Educated Brotherhood here in 1792. Thanks to publishing press activities, it spread the new Slovak language standard and it also had a more significant cultural and agitating impact.
Trnava tried to maintain its cultural-social standard in the 19th century, during which the town experienced a vast economic development. Development of the town was accompanied by the new architectonic style. With the active support of the middle class in Trnava, a theater was built in 1831. The first horse-drawn railcars in Kingdom of Hungary began to operate between Bratislava and Trnava in 1846. During the time of oppression of nationalities, when Matica Slovenska was banned, the national consciousness of Slovaks was upheld by the Society of St. Adalbert, which opened its residence in Trnava in 1870.
Between the First and the Second World War, Trnava was the third largest Slovak town. The town grew beyond the fortifications. On the basis of decision issued by Pope Paul VI., Trnava became the first independent Slovak church province. The preserved historical part of the town was declared to be a municipal monumental reservation in 1987. During the last administrative division of the Slovak Republic, Trnava became a seat of Trnava region.
Milestones in the History of Trnava
- 1211 – first written mention of Trnava
- 1238 – King Bela IV of Hungary grants Trnava the privileges of a free royal town 1348 – oldest confirmed seal of Trnava
- 1543 – The seat of the Esztergom archdiocese and chapter is relocated to Trnava and the city becomes the cultural and religious centre of the country
- 1635 – Cardinal Peter Pázmaň establishes Trnava University, initially with two faculties (philosophy, theology) to which others were added later (law, medicine)
Growth of craft manufacturing, food industries, establishment of manufacturing firms – broadcloth and silk works. A famous 18th century resident of Trnava was Anton Bernolák, author of the first codification of the Slovak language and the founder of the Slovak Educated Fellowship (Slovenské učené tovarišstvo) an important organisation promoting education and literature in Slovak.
Establishment of industrial manufacturing firms – malting factory, starch factory, vinegar factory, brewery, brickworks, distillery, bell foundry, the Coburg factory
- 1830 – Establishment of a sugar mill
- 1846 – The first horse-drawn railway line in Hungary is opened from Bratislava to Trnava
- 1870 – Foundation of the Roman Catholic cultural organisation the St Adalbert Society (Spolok svätého Vojtecha)
More industrial plants open in the town: Figaro, Vozovka, Zornica, Skloplast, Šmeralove závody, Nábytkárske závody...
- 1948 – Financial institutions operating in the city: Tatra banka, Sedliacka banka, Roľnícka vzájomná pokladnica, Mestská sporiteľňa
- 1972 – The Jaslovské Bohunice nuclear power station begins producing electricity
- 1980 – The second unit at Jaslovské Bohunice is connected A revised version of the Škoda 1203 van was built by the Trnava automaker Trnavské automobilové závody.
- 1996 – Establishment of major firms with foreign investment: Sony Slovakia, s. r. o., Punch products Trnava, s. r. o., Sachs Slovakia, a. s.
- 2001 – the American firm Johns Manville purchases a stake in Skloplast Trnava
- 2002 - Trnava becomes one of the first towns in Slovakia to prepare a strategic plan for local economic development
- 2003 – An agreement is signed on the establishment of a plant for PSA – Peugeot Citroën
- 2004 – Installation of a new line and increased production capacity at Sony Slovakia, s. r. o., construction of a new manufacturing hall with larger production and more jobs at Johns Manville Slovakia, a. s.
- 2005 – Construction of a supplier park for the PSA – Peugeot Citroën plant
- 2006 – Start of production in the PSA – Peugeot Citroën plant
- 2007 – Establishment of the first cluster in Slovakia: Automotive Cluster – West Slovakia
- 2009-2012 – Construction work begins on the Trnava Industrial and Technological Park in Trnava designed to attract investments in the field of research, development, the manufacture of prototypes, and innovation
- 2014 – Revitalisation of the pedestrian zone in the city centre
- 2014 – Construction of the multi-purpose City-Arena in the city centre; the stadium will meet UEFA and FIFA standards and be able to seat 19,000 spectators.