Bratislava was for centuries an important center of Jewish life. The Jewish presence in the medieval city was regulated by a municipal charter granted in 1291 by King Andrew III Arpád. One section of this document stipulated that Jews had the right to reside within the city walls.

Later, the Jews were expelled from the city on several occasions, the last time being in 1526. In 1599, they returned to Bratislava, but not into the walled town. At the invitation of Count Pálffy, they settled in a narrow zone between the castle hill and the city fortifications. Here, the so-called Judengasse, in an area under the jurisdiction of the castle, remained the only place Jews were allowed to live until 1840.

In the first half of the nineteenth century, Bratislava became an important center of Jewish learning. The Chatam Sofer established a famous yeshiva (rabbinical school), and at the same time his opponents in the community opened a modern Jewish primary school. Later, there were two Jewish communities in Bratislava, one Orthodox and one Neolog.

Most of Bratislava’s Jews were killed in the Holocaust, but it was not until several years after World War II that most of the city’s Jewish built heritage was destroyed. The main Orthodox synagogue was demolished in 1961, and the rest of the Judengasse, along with the Neolog synagogue, was razed in 1969, when the SNP Bridge was constructed.

The political changes after the fall of Communism in 1989 prompted a renaissance of Jewish life in Bratislava. Today there is an active Jewish community, which maintains a full range of religious, cultural, educational and social activities.