There are not so many towns endowed with such beautiful surroundings and such an ideal location as Nitra. They say that Nitra, like Rome, was founded on seven hills. Its name is connected with the beginnings of the history of Slovakia, with the names of Pribina, Svatopluk, Sts. Cyril and Methodius and even with the mention of the first Christian church on the territory of Slovakia and with the introduction of the old Slavonic alphabet.
The beginnings of its settlement go back as far as the earliest times, as has been documented by numerous archeological findings on the town's territory. This area was a densely populated region some 30 000 years ago. The first peasant settlements were on the territory of the town some 6 000 years ago.
In the fourth century B.C. the territory of Slovakia was inhabited by the Celts who remained here for a long period of time. They were skillful smelters and smiths whose huts and workshops were found at the foot od Martinsky vrch (Martin hill). Even the Dacians left some traces behind here.
The Slavic history of Nitra started near the end of the 5th century when the first Slavs arrived here. As early as the first half of the 7th century, some western sources mention a state formation of Slavs, the Samo Empire. The Samo Empire was a predecessor of the subsequent state formation - the Great Moravian Empire, one of whose centres was Nitra. Precisely during the time of the Great Moravian Empire, the foundations of the renowened fame of ancient Christian Nitra were laid, as was recorded in extremely precious documents from the 9th century. One of these fortified settlements may have been the residence of Prince Pribina under whose rule Nitra was an important political, military and economic centre. Pribina showed great wisdom as a statesman and had great insight into European politics, when in about 828 A.D.,he, being a heathen himself, allowed the first Christian church in Nitra to be consecrated. This act was performed by Adalram, the Archbishop of Salzburg. The Pribina church is the first historically documented witness to the Christianity of the Slavs on the territory of Slovakia. This great events is mentioned in a document "Conversione Bagoariorum et Carantanorum" dating back to 870-871. Unfortunately, the exact site of the shrine has not as yet been located, but it is probable that the church did not stand on today's castle hill.
In its later development, the Nitra principality was forcibly annexed by Mojmir to the Moravian principality in about 833, and a new state entity was formed which is mentioned in sources under the name Great Moravia. After the dethronement of Mojmir, Rastislav became the ruler of Great Moravia. His reign is connected with a very important event, namely the comming of the Byzantine missionaries, Constantine-Cyril and Methodius, in 863.
Constantine-Cyril developed the first Slavic alphabet, which was called "glagolitic", he also translated the first liturgical texts into Old Slavonic. Methodius, whom Pope Hadrian II had authorized to be consecrated as a bishop in 870 and later as archbishop, was named as a papal legate for Pannonia and for the Upper Danubian Slavs.
Nitra was at the height of its fame during the reign of King Svatopluk . In one of the most valuable written documents for Slovak history, in the letter from Pope John VIII to Svatopluk, dating back to 880, "Indistriae tuae", Svatopluk is addressed as king and the Pope informs him of the appointment of Viching as bishop of Nitra, by then, probably had a municipal character, and it consisted of five fortified settlements and twenty communities where skiled craftsmen plied their trade.
Until the beginnig of the 14th century Nitra remained the resedential town of the principality that bordered the newly formed Hungarian monarchy. Also, during the Middle Ages it was the site of important historical events, and it was often plundered by various armies. The Benedictines took up the organization of ecclesiastical life, their monastery of St. Hyppolite on the slope of Zobor hill was the oldest in Slovakia.
In 1248 the ruler Bela IV, in appreciation for protection from the Tartars, promoted Nitra to the status of free-royal town with privileges similar to those of Székesfehérvár.
The medieval Nitra was divided into the Upper Town and Lower Town, the latter being further divided into several separate parts, each with its own alderman and local seals. Four new independent parishes came into being in connection with the churches of St. Michael in the square Na vrsku, St. James in the central square, St.Stephen in Parovce, and Our Lady on the Calvary hill.
From the second half of the 18th century, Nitra escaped from military hardships, this made possible the renovation of the town and modifocations on the castle and especially on the Cathedral. Peaceful times made the construction of several buildings in the Upper Town possible. As a result of the town's development, the population grew beyond 10 000, in the 19th century. In 1873 Nitra became the town with its municipality presided over by a mayor and by numerous public councilmen.
The further development of the town was strongly influenced by two World Wars.