Archive for the ‘Slovakia’ Category

Svidnik and wooden temples

Svidnik, the small city located close to the Polish border, is a centre of the Dukla region historically connected with Ruthenians and Ukrainians. First mentioned in 1355, was located on an Amber Route, important trade route leading to Poland. But the most important period in city history was the second world war, when the big military operation was taken in the mountains around Svidnik and Dukla. Today the open air Memorial and Cemetery of Czechoslovak Army in Dukla is one of the most visited monuments in the region.
For something more peaceful, the region offers several wooden temples of Eastern Rite, the sign of Ruthenian presence. They are located in the little villages north from Svidnik, and still fulfill the sacral function. Participating in a mass in Eastern Rite may be vary interesting experience, as the ceremony is quite different from those in Western denominations.
Those who do not have a car, or lack a time, can visit the Museum of Ukrainian Culture with an open – air museum of folk architecture.

Rožňava and Slovenský Kras

The former mining city of Rožňava is nowadays the important educational and cultural center, and the starting point for cavers exploring the National Park Slovenský Kras. It is also a home of large Hungarian minority.
From Middle Ages (first mentioned in 1291) the city was reach and prosper because of silver and gold mines. From that period came the the Gothic Assumption of Virgin Mary Cathedral, the seat of the bishop, and the most important building in the city center. It rise above the main square of the city, which is the biggest square-shaped square in Slovakia. Other monuments gathered around this square, are Town Hall, Bishop’s Palace, the Sisters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul Nunnery or the renaissance watchtower, which offer the amazing view of the city.
The history of Rožňava miners is exhibited in Mining Museum, together with information about Slovenský Kras – the National Park with one of the largest cave sets in Europe. This region located on a UNESCO natural heritage list, every year attract tourist, especially to the Domica cave and Zádielska tiesňava narrow. The first one offers unique possibility of underground boat trip, the second is narrowest canyon in the Park.

Košice

This important, eastern Slovakia city was first mentioned in 1230, and in 1342 gain privileges of free royal borough. Localization on the border of Hungarian Empire, and many political changes through history, made Košice the multicultural home for Slovaks, Hungarians, Roma, Czechs, Rusyns, Ukrainians and Germans. Shortly after the Second World War it was a capitol of newly created Czechoslovakia, and today it is the second biggest city in Slovakia, and centre of its eastern part.
The town monument reserve of Košice is the biggest one and the best preserved in all Slovakia. Historical monuments are concentrated around the Main square (Hlavne Namestie), and neighboring streets. This square is considered the most beautiful in Slovakia, as it is pedestrian area, and surrounding buildings are all historical. The most important of them is Dome of st. Elisabeth, the biggest church in Slovakia. Construction of the church started in 1380, but was never finished. The latest of many changes have place in 19th century, but some of Gothic elements remains. To the most precious of them belong collection of table paintings from 15th century, which are part of the main altar, and liturgical objects, from famous Goldsmith’s J. Szilassy’s workshop.
Close to the Dome stands the Tower called Urbanova veža, an the chapel of st. Michael – together they create Gothic set of monuments, dominating over the main square.

Slovenský Raj

Slovenský Raj (Slovak Paradise) is quite small, but unique part of Western Carpathians. Because it is built mainly from lime stone and dolomite, rivers crossing this mountains easily carved deep canyons, and create amazing karst formations. Majority of many caves are unfortunately closed to public, but Dobšinská Ice Cave, the biggest ice cave outside Alps, can be visited.
For better protection of flora and wildlife, the National Park of Slovenský Raj was settled.
Through the narrow, shadowy canyons, lead many walking and cycling routes. Many of them are not suitable for people with fear of hight, as climbing ladders or crossing little bridges is often required. But views offered by many view spots are worth effort.
There are many little towns around Slovenský Raj, which offer the accommodation and other facilities, but the most interesting is Kláštorisko, as the only tourist centre inside the mountains. This former Carthusian Monastery located in picturesque karst landscape is now accessible only by foot or bike.

Prešov

First settlements in the place of today Prešov are documented in Roman times, later their villages have there Slavs, Magyars and finally Saxons. The privileges of free royal borough Prešov gained in 1370, and in 15th century joined the Pentapolitana – association of Slovak cities. In 1919 in Prešov was announced the Slovak Republic of Councils – the shortly existing country inspired by Bolshevik Revolution.
The main street of the city, Hlavna, is widening and create kind of oblong square around the church of st. Nicholas and the Evangelical Church. The first one is the city landscape, built in 14th century, and its tall tower dominates the view of the Hlavna street. Originally the street was lined with Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque houses, but after the great fire in 1887 they were all reconstructed in new style. Tho most interesting building on the west side is a Rákózci Palace, which now houses a museum. On the opposite site the Town Hall deserves attention – there is located the Museum of Wine.

Levoča

Interesting history, beautiful monuments and picturesque location makes Levoča one of the most popular tourist destination. It is also located on a UNESCO world heritage list. First mentioned in 1249, was for some time the capitol of Spiš Saxons. As a stop on an important trade route, Levoča was rich and influential city. Craft works from the city was sold in huge part of Europe, in Krakow or even Venice.
The most famous citizen of Levoča was Maestro Pavol, the late Gothic sculptor. His highest achievement is the st. James altar in Levoča main church. The altar is over 18 meters high, what makes it the tallest on this kind.
The st. James church stands on a main square of Levoča, dominating it with high 19th century tower. Next to it stands the former Town Hall, precious example of early-renaissance building. The square is rounded by more than 50 burgher houses, and consist also small but remarkable feature – the pillory from 16th century, called cage of opprobrium.

Tatranská Lomnica and Štrbské Pleso

Located in the High Tatras Mountains, Lomnica is known mainly as the ski resort, but its worth visiting also in summer. The city offers the easy access to the Tatra National Park, with several hiking routes including the Main Tatra Route. The hiking can start also in Štrbské Pleso, city connected with Tatranska Lomnica with a railway. It is the best starting point for one of the most popular routes – on Rysy and Kryvan.
In winter the tranquil town changes into bustling, vivid ski resort. The wide range of routes, would satisfy both the beginners and experienced skiers. There are no waiting in the long lines – six cableways and two chair-lift can operate more than eight thousand people per hour.
Independenty of the season works the biggest attraction of Tatranska Lomnica – one of the sweepest cable cars in Europe. The amazing ride is the only way (there are no hiking route) to the Lomnica peak, rising 2632 meters a.s.l..

Stara Ľubovňa

First mentioned in 1292, in the middle of 14th century gain a rights of Free Royal Borough. The city flourished under the Polish rule, later, when it came back to the Hungarian Empire, it lost its importance.
The city main square is surrounded by a middle class houses. One of them houses interactive exhibition about 19th century city life, with reconstructions of middle class house and some workshops.
High above the city rises the Ľubovňa Castle, built in 13th century on a Hungarian border. It protected not only the lands close to the border, but also the merchants, who travelled north, to Poland. In 1412 Hungarian ruler met here with Polish king, and pledged the castle and cities in region Spiš to the Polish crown.
In 1553 the fire destroyed big part of the castle, and reconstructions was taken mainly in renaissance style. Shortly later, the Spiš region came back to Hungarians and importance of castle lessen. For long it lied in ruins, but now is renovated and a museum is settled inside.
A group of rural buildings rounding castle is an open air museum, and add the charm to the view of the castle hill.

Kežmarok

Kežmarok is located really close to the Tatra Mountains, which make it important holiday resort, both winter and summer. It consist of three separate settlements, which was joined together in 13th century, and in the 14th century was surrounded by a city walls.
Historical centre of Kežmarok is declared as a Town Monument Reserve. From the long periods of history it was a rich town with a fluorishing trade and handicraft. The most famous articles was linen and other textiles, but that was not all – in 17th century in Kežmarok works twenty one different guilds.
The city’s central point is a Town Hall on a main square, and the most unique building is a wooden evangelical church, made without single metal piece. Even church organs have wooden pipes.
But with no doubts the most important monument in Kežmarok is a city castle. Built in 15th century and reconstructed in 16th and 17th, to be more a palace than a defensive fortress. For a six years, the castle was a prison for princess Beata Laska. She is considered as a first real tourist in central Europe, because she was hiking mountains for three days without any particular reason. When she come back, her husband decided of imprisoning her – in the middle of 17th century her behaviour was highly improper.

Červený Kláštor Monastery

In 1319 the Carthusian monks get some lands from a ruler master Kakas, and built a monastery in a valley of st. Anton. This localisation in a picturesque Pieniny Mountains, made it later one of most visited Monasteries in Slovakia. Originally, the walls of the complex was made from a bricks, and that is how it get a name Red Monastery (Červený Kláštor).
The central building is obviously the 14th century Church of st. Anton, unusual one-nave church, renovated in Baroque style, and with Baroque altair. The rest of the monastery was also rebuilt, but some of Gothic features are still visible. One of them is a wall painting in the refectory, dating back to 1520.
The huge part of exhibition in a monastery is a herbarium of monk Fray Cyprian, known for interest in medical usage of plants. Next to the complex grow the very old lime trees, which are declared the protected area Pieninské Lipy.