Which city is known as the Twin City

Twin City

April 8, 2017, 9:58 pm

9:00 a.m. Vienna-Danube Canal. Day trippers and tourists gather in front of the Twin City Liner landing stage. From Vienna to Bratislava on the waterway: this is a first for most of them. The high-speed catamaran has been connecting the Austrian and Slovakian capital since 2005 and - this is how the advertising based on international understanding wants - brings Vienna and Bratislava closer.

After a small accident last week - the catamaran rammed the bank of the Danube Canal - the "Twin City Liner" is now fully operational again. The captain believes that Bratislava is a great day trip destination, especially on weekends. "It's a practical thing with our driving time of only 75 minutes. I always say that only a motorcycle is faster."

New perspectives after the fall of the wall

We grow together, together we grow.

This is the slogan of a regional development project that gives the closest European capitals a special role. Around 60 kilometers separate Vienna and Bratislava. Until 1989 an insurmountable distance. Beyond the border was the end of the western world. For decades, historically grown relationships and infrastructure networks lay idle. Until new perspectives emerged after the fall of the Iron Curtain: It is the hour of the Twin City Vienna Bratislava.

Rudolf Giffinger from the Institute for Urban and Regional Research at the Vienna University of Technology dealt with the Twin City marketing concept in cooperation with the Technical University of Bratislava. A formula that can be summed up with the catchphrase: "Two cities, one economic area". Because even if the image brochures devoted to the Twin City, in the small print, so to speak, recommend cultural exchange as an identity-creating measure alongside economic exchange, Twin City Vienna Bratislava is one thing above all: the product of economic and political interests.

The region is created in the mind.

The gateway to the east

A few years after the fall of the Wall, there are interest groups and local politicians on both sides of the border who are promoting the twin city concept. In the international competition for investors, the cooperation between the cities of Vienna and Bratislava should bring location advantages.

In the 1990s, the Austrian side in particular recognized the proximity to the Eastern European growth markets as a great opportunity. But Peter Huber from the Vienna Economic Research Institute does not accept that Austrian companies and banks are the big winners of the cooperation. Marketing as a common economic area was a smart move for both locations.

Traffic situation

The fact that Vienna and Bratislava are far from being a cross-border city conglomerate is evident not least from the traffic situation. It was always easy to get from Vienna to the west and it was easy to get from Bratislava to the east. But the route between Vienna and Bratislava could become a problem. The expansion of the motorway and the prestige project "Twin City Liner" are the first attempts to remedy this historically evolved situation. But if you take the train to Bratislava, you still have to take the short detour via Kittsee or Marchegg.

It is the attraction of studying abroad, says Daniela, a student, that makes Austrian universities attractive. Since Slovakia joined the EU, at least access to educational institutions is no longer a problem. The situation is different on the labor market, of course: Transitional provisions will apply until 2011. Slovaks who want to work in Austria still need a work permit. Peter Huber from the Vienna Economic Research Institute is convinced that mobility between the cities of Vienna and Bratislava will soon increase.

Up-and-coming city

The fact that the region between Vienna and Bratislava could actually grow together is particularly noticeable in border communities such as Wolfsthal, which is only a few kilometers away from the Slovakian border. From the main street you have a wonderful view of the Bratislava Castle. And it only takes ten minutes to get to the Slovak capital by car. Nevertheless, there was hardly any border traffic between Wolfsthal and Bratislava for decades.

Wolfsthal, Hainburg and other Austrian border communities have become a popular destination for Slovak house builders in recent years - adding value for places that have been in the blind spot of economic policy and regional development for decades. Since the end of the k. k. Monarchy, the population of Wolfsthal gradually went down, now this trend is reversed. Real estate in Wolfsthal is extremely popular with its Slovakian neighbors.

The former provincial city of Bratislava is recording the most dynamic development in its history in terms of population growth and construction activity. Will the twin city partner Vienna go free-rider to the rising neighboring metropolis? In any case, the initially asymmetrical relationship between the twin cities of Vienna and Bratislava has shifted in favor of Bratislava. Bratislava is still a long way from catching up with Vienna, but it has caught up a lot.