Archive for the ‘Central Slovakia’ Category

Bojnice castle

The little town of Bojnice, located in the middle between Banska Bystrica and Trencin, is world famous because of its charming, fairy-tale castle, a perfect scenery used in many historical and fantasy movies.
The first buildings in this place was placed in 11th century, but nowadays appearance dates back only to 19th century, when count Palfi ordered to reconstruct it in a French style, like castles above Loire river. The castle is now housing the museum, including collection of Palfi family from turn of 19th and 20th century. The biggest treasure among the exhibits is a Gothic so-called Altar of Bojnice, the set of paintings of famous Florence artist, Nardo di Cione Ortagna. The castle have also some natural attractions, like the park and landscape park, and a dripstone cave connected with castle well.
The best moment to visit Bojnice, is the International Festival of Ghosts and Monsters. The gathering of witches, vampires and ghouls attract thousand of visitors from all over Europe.

Oravsky Hrad

Ten kilometres north from Dolny Kubin, on a high rock rising 112 metres above Orava River, lies Oravsky Hrad. This 13th century castle is located at the very end of the rock, at the position called “eagle’s nest”, and when is watched from below, it makes an impression of totally unconquerable fortress. Actually, it was never conquered by military force, but changed owners many times by a political decisions. The best known of them, was Thurzo family, who accomplished in 1611 the most complete reconstruction of a castle. Renaissance and Neo – Gothic buildings took place of those Romanesque and Gothic, and the castle increased its surface. After the great fire in 1800, the renovation begins only after the Second World War, and today the castle is open for tourist.
The three parts – lower, middle and upper castle – consist of palaces and fortifying structures, housing different exhibitions of Oravske Museum – archeological, historical, ethnographic and natural history. The visiting is also more entertaining, because of short performances and possibility of night tours.

The Lesser Fatra

The Lesser Fatra is a mountain range, part of Western Carpathian. Spreading 52 kilometres long and 16 kilometres wide, it is a perfect place for few days of hiking. The highest peaks reach 1,700 metres, but the geological formations, narrow valleys and steep slopes, makes hiking Fatra quite similar to hiking Tatras (which reach above 2,500 metres).
The Lesser Fatra is made from limestone and dolomites, and this effect in the picturesque landscape, several caves (unfortunately, not open for visitors), and amazing rock formations. Visitors can also admire the 38 meters high waterfall, called Šútovský vodopád, and the symbolic cemetery near cottage Vratna, dedicated to those, who died in the mountains, with the inscription “in remembrance of the dead, warning for the living.”
In 1988 the northern part of Lesser Fatra was declared as a National Park, and from then the natural environment of the mountains, including populations of bears, wolves and eagles, is better protected.

Demänovská Valley

Between Liptovský Mikuláš, and ski-centre Jasna, spread the most picturesque valley in the Low Tatras – Demänovská Valley. During 14 kilometres, the valley is digging up the mountains, and offer the activities despite of age or experience of tourists. Different hiking routes begins in the valley, some of them quite challenging, and some are just a simple walk.
In the valley are located two world famous karst caves – Demänovská jaskyňa slobody (Demänovská Cave of Freedom), and Demänovská ľadová jaskyňa ( Demänovská Ice Cave), both open for visiting. In the first one temperature is all year about 6-7 Celsius degrees, and visitors may admire the drip stone ornamentations, huge hollow spaces called halls or domes, and the 50 metres long cave lake. The air in the cave is treated as a cure for breathing injuries. The other one has temperature almost always zero, what allow the beautiful phenomenon take place – the large parts of the cave are covered in ice, creating amazing sculptures and ice waterfalls. Inside was found the bones of cave bear, considered once as a dragon’s ones. Today there lived only bats, in a variety of ten species.

Liptovský Mikuláš

Localisation of Liptovský Mikuláš, on the river Vah between Low and West Tatras, make it an important tourist centre. First mentioned in 13th century as a little settlement, in a 14th century was already the regular medieval town, and in 17th century here was located the Liptov County, what made it the political centre of region.
The city is strongly connected with national hero Juraj Jánošík, called Slovak Robin Hood, who “take from the nobles and give to the poor”. Born in 1688, in 1710 deserted from the Austrian army (Slovaks was then under the Habsburgs rule), and join a group of forest robbers. He quickly became a chief, but not for long – he was imprisoned and executed in 1713 – in Liptovský Mikuláš.
For many tourists Liptovský Mikuláš is only the stop before hiking in mountains, but there are some historical sites also worth visiting. The Liberators’ square preserved its shape from 14th century, and is surrounded by city’s oldest monuments – Gothic st. Nicholas Church, and Pondgrac Kuria – the oldest non-religious building.

Žilina

Žilina is nowadays the dynamic, economical and cultural centre, and is constantly gaining bigger importance as a travel destination. In the Middle Ages was also the centre of region, with royal privileges from 1321. In 1381 was assigned the “Privilegium pro Slavis Solnensis”, which guaranteed Slovaks in Žilina the same rights, as German citizens. Another artifact is “Žilinska kniha” – Town Book of Žilina from 14th century, with first sentences in Slovak language.
The oldest architectural monuments in the city is the church of st. Stephen the King, and it dates back to 13th century. From the later periods, worth seeing are church of the Conversion of st. Paul the Apostle, the old Town Hall and the Most Holy Trinity Church, located on a place of former, early medieval castle. New castle is located in northern part of Žilina, with the oldest parts from 13th century, and the newest from 1920s. The original function of the castle was guarding the route north, to Silesia, now it house a museum with a unique collection of tinkers trade products, but also exhibitions of nature and history of the region. The visit in the castle may be finished in a nice, English style park, leading to the banks of Vah and Kysuce rivers.

Martin

Although the first information about Martin dates back to 1284, the most important role it played only in the middle of 19th century, as a political centre of Slovaks. They were then under the rule of Hungarians, and uprose against them in 1848. Martin was a place of many events during the uprising, and finally in 1861 here was presented “The Memorandum of the Slovak Nation”. One of effects of memorandum, was creating the “Matica Slovenska” cultural institution of all Slovaks, which concentrate on all aspects of national heritage.
The first building of Matica Slovenska, is one of Martin’s landscapes, and today it houses the National Slovak Literary Museum. Other monuments and museums of the city are located in a small historical centre, between the Church of st. Martin and the Evangelical church on the Memorandove Namestie square. The special attention should be payed to the Gallery of Turcin, located in former County House, containing the art works from Middle Ages till today, and the Ethnographic Museum.
Martin is also one of best place for beginning the hiking trips in Fatra Mountains.