The relationship between Esztergom in Hungary and its twin town Štúrovo in Slovakia is almost a thousand years old.
During the time of the Kingdom of Hungary, Štúrovo (at that time it was called: Kakat and later: Párkány) was the Northern defence of Esztergom, which was the first Hungarian capital. Since 1920 the two towns have belonged to separate countries; however the relationships and friendships have always been very strong.
The twin cities were connected by the Mária Valéria Bridge from 1895, which was destroyed for the first time in 1919, then again in 1944. With the help of the European Union it was rebuilt in 2001 as the last of the bridges that were demolished in World War II. After the inauguration of the bridge, till the date of joining the Schengen zone (2007) vehicle traffic across the border has grown 40 times. At the same time, passenger traffic has grown 11 times. Thus the border crossing point of Esztergom has become the most frequented one at the Hungarian-Slovak border.
In the first period the rebuilding of the Maria Valeria Bridge after 45 years was decisive, which mainly stimulated the civil relationships, strengthened the shopping tourism and helped to reduce unemployment on the Slovak side as well. For 2008, the number of daily commuters was more than 6,000 people.
The Ister-Granum cooperation commenced parallel to the bridge rebuilding. In 2000, the two frontier micro regions (33 settlements) concluded a cooperation agreement. The Ister-Granum Euroregion was later formed in 2003 by 100 local governments. Through the name of the cooperation we refer to the mutual European intellectual heritage, as we use the Latin naming for the Danube and for the Hron or Garam Rivers.
In 2005 the euroregion prepared its own strategic plan which was presented in the European Parliament. On 6th May 2008 the Ister-Granum EGTC was founded in the presence of Mr. Luc van Den Brande, the president of the Committee of the Regions. The registration process of the EGTC terminated on 29th November 2008 when our announcement was published in the Official Journal of the EU.