Slovakia and it’s Capital, Bratislava
Slovakia is a country full of beautiful medieval castles, historical towns, breath- taking landscapes, mountain ranges, parks and caves. It is also rich in terms of folk culture, traditions and modern facilities such as spas or ski resorts in the Tatra Mountains. Slovakia is a country with a very high Human Development Index rating (0,845 in 2016), a very high standard of living and favorable performance levels in areas of civil liberties, press freedom, Internet freedom and peacefulness. Slovakia has been a member of the European Union since May 2004 and later joined also the Eurozone on the 1st of January 2009.
Key facts about Slovakia include the following:
Population: 5,426,252 inhabitants
Area: 49 035 km2
Population density: 111/km2
GDP pc: $33,054 (PPP)
Country code: +421
Timezone: CET (UTC +1)
Bratislava is the capital city of Slovakia and is often called the “Beauty on the Danube” or the “Little Big City”. With a population of 421 801 (in 2016), it is situated in the south-west corner of Slovakia and is located on both banks of the Danube River. It also has foothills of the Little Carpathian Mountains. Due to its favourable position, it has always been a commercial centre. This strategically placed city has often played a big role in the history of Central Europe. In the 14th and 15th centuries, Bratislava experienced a period of rapid development in trade. The opening of the Academia Istropolitana in 1467 strengthened the importance of Bratislava as the cultural and educational centre of the Kingdom of Hungary. After the Turks penetrated deeper into Europe, Bratislava was established as the new capital of the Kingdom of Hungary, the seat of the Hungarian Diet. It became the central administration and the coronation town of the Hungarian kings and queens. Eleven monarchs and eight royal wives were crowned in Bratislava between 1563 and 1830. Offensives against the Turks and the Estates’ rebellions in the 16th and 17th centuries interrupted the development of the town. In the 18th century, and particularly during the reign of Queen Maria Theresa, the significance of Bratislava increased again. A great amount of wonderful palaces and buildings still survive from that period. The city became a centre of culture in the 19th century, and Bratislava was the cradle of the Slovak national emancipation. Revolutionary events, workers’ movements and the First World War troubled Bratislava which, nevertheless, became the centre of the political, economic and cultural life of Slovaks after 1918. Despite its extensive history as a city, Bratislava is actually one of the youngest capitals in the world, due to Slovakia achieving independence in 1993. Due to this and its critical role in Slovakia’s accomplishments in economic development, Bratislava has taken on many contemporary qualities which have transformed the capital into quite a modern city. This modernisation has helped to attract foreigners from around the globe. Bratislava is also famous for its old town charm, diverse restaurants and pubs, cultural, educational and free time opportunities and also for its cityscape, which is characterised by a mix of medieval towers, grandiose 20th century buildings and modern 21st century architecture. Located on the Danube River, Bratislava is easily accessible to everyone. It is a great place to hang out with family, friends or just by oneself. The city is safe, friendly, hassle-free and there is always something worth doing; whether visitors are here for an afternoon, a week or a year. Its dynamic life will amuse visitors throughout their stay thanks to events such as perennial festivals, jazz concerts and art gallery showings throughout the year.
Some of the most famous tourist attractions in Bratislava
Bratislava offers foreign and also domestic tourists attractions ranging from historical buildings and castles to museums and churches. Thanks to its rich history and detailistic architecture, which can be found especially in the Old Town, the city offers a wide range of diversity and colours. Some recommendations on where to visit in and around Bratislava.
Dominating the southwest part of the Old Town on a hill above the Danube, the castle today is largely a 1950s reconstruction; a fire in 1811 left the fortress ruined for more than a century, and renovations continue up to the present. Most of the castle buildings contain administrative offices. However, there is also museum portraying Slovakia throughout the ages and lawns and ramparts that provide great vantage points from which visitors may overlook the city. A trip to Bratislava is not complete without making the climb up to the whitewashed castle building. When many people think of Bratislava, they think of the castle; it is the most recognized symbol of the city. From the very centre of the Old Town it is only a 10- to 15-minute walk up the hill to the castle entrance.
Dedicated castle aficionados will want to get their daypacks and head out to Devin Castle, 9 km west of Bratislava. Once the military playground of the ninth-century warlord Prince Rastislav, Devin is packed solid with historical intrigue. The No. 29 bus links Devin with Bratislava's Nový Most bus stop.
Kamzik TV tower
The Kamzik TV Tower, also known as the “Bratislava TV tower”, stands nearly 470 metres above the city and is a great place to check out if you have a few hours.
The Old town
The Old Town is the busiest part of the city and the first stop for many tourists. Cobblestones, winding lanes, and historic buildings are just some of the things you will notice when you are walking through the Old Town. The area is full of pubs, restaurants, shops and hotels.
St. Martin's cathedral
A relatively modest interior belies the elaborate history of St Martin's Cathedral: 11 Austro-Hungarian monarchs (10 kings and one queen, Maria Theresa) were crowned in this large 14th century church.
The Church of St. Elizabeth/The Blue church
Built in 1908, the Church of St Elizabeth (locally known as the “Blue Church”) is an interesting building to check out while you are wandering around downtown. It is located only a 5 to 10 minute walk from the heart of the Old Town.
The Slovak national museum
The Museum of History forms an important part of the complex of specialized museums within the Slovak National Museum. The Museum of History has almost 250 000 objects from the fields of national history, arts, painting, traditional and artistic crafts, numismatics, ethnography, warfare, the economy and the history of Slovaks living abroad.
The Slovak national theatre
The National Theatre Company stages quality operas (both Slovak and international productions), ballets and dramas at two venues: the gilt decoration of the historical theatre building is a show in itself, whereas the modern theatre building has a café and guaranteed English-speaking reservation line.
The Slavin war memorial
Located high above the city is the Slavin War Memorial. The statue and memorial can be seen from much of the city and surrounding areas.
The UFO bridge with its restaurant
Most SNP, also known as the “UFO Bridge”, is a focal point of Bratislava tourism and was built to connect the core of the city to the suburb of Petržalka. The bridge is a modernist marvel from 1972 and is one of the main sights in Bratislava. 27 Bratislava offers foreign and also domestic tourists attractions ranging from historical buildings and castles to museums and churches. Thanks to its rich history and detailistic architecture, which can be found especially in the Old Town, the city offers a wide range of diversity and colours. Some recommendations on where to visit in and around Bratislava.
For more information about Bratislava please visit https://www.visitbratislava.com/.
The most popular places to visit in Slovakia
The second biggest town of Slovakia, Košice is not only the centre of eastern Slovakia but also the core of the Eastern Carpathians where several ethnicities live. The city Košice (population 242,066) on the Hornád river on the western edge of the Košická kotlina basins has a long and agitated history and its present is also dynamic. It has been the most important town of the region for centuries and a natural centre of trade, culture, and education. Almost all monuments of Košice are concentrated in the historical core of the town, size of which makes it the biggest Town Monument Reserve of Slovakia. The spindle-shaped Main square of Košice is the heart of the town and rightly considered one of the most beautiful squares in Slovakia. It is closed to traffic and skirted by numerous wonderful historical buildings. The most valuable monuments are situated in its centre. The dominant of the square and the town is the monumental Gothic Cathedral of St. Elisabeth. This building, rather isolated from the rest of the square, is the largest church of Slovakia and the easternmost situated Gothic cathedral of western type in Europe. In front of the northern walls of the Cathedral of Košice stands what was originally Urbans tower built in the 14th century. The Urbans tower and the chapel of St. Michael, former charnel house, from the end of the 14th century, which stands in front of the southern side of the Cathedral of St. Elisabeth form together a complete unique Gothic set of the monuments.
The Tatra Mountains
The Tatra Mountains, or the National Park High Tatras (Vysoké Tatry), is situated in the northern part of Slovakia, shared partly with Poland. The only mountains of Alpine type in the whole Carpathian Mountain range are often called “the smallest alpine mountains in Europe”. Popular for hikers or skiers, notable for majestic peaks touching the sky, dark turquoise mountain lakes of glacier origin, waterfalls, unique plants, rare animals like chamois (mountain goat) or marmot, exceptionally clean air and environment great for healing respiratory conditions. There are three main parts of High Tatras: The Western Tatras, The (central) High Tatras and The Belianske Tatras. They differ in their geological composition and location. The inhabitants of the High Tatras live in the settlements situated along the “Road of Freedom“, which joins Western, High and Belianske Tatras together.
In the eastern horizon of Spišské Podhradie towers the Spiš Castle. As a National Cultural Monument, Spiš Castle with its area of more than four ha, and partially in ruins, is one of the largest castle compounds in Central Europe. Spiš Castle was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1993. Construction of the medieval castle on a travertine hill dates back to the beginning of the 12th century. The oldest written reference to the castle is from 1120. At the beginning it was a boundary fort placed at the northern frontier of an early feudal Old Hungarian state. Afterwards, it became the seat of the head of the Spiš region for many centuries.
The National Park of Slovenský raj situated in the eastern part of Slovakia contains one of the biggest ice caves in Europe and an attractive landscape of karstic plateaux, gorges, waterfalls and caves. The monuments that testify the oldest history of the region and the country are also here. The National Park of Slovenský raj occupying an area of 328 square kilometres obtained a higher degree of protection. Approximately one fifth of the National Park is object of even stricter protection in form of 11 National Nature Reserves and 8 Nature Reserves.
Specific samples of sacred architecture in Slovakia are the wooden churches. Their folk builders expressed the perfect harmony of the human soul with nature and the effort to disengage from earthly worries. Among the oldest are the Gothic wooden churches (for example Hervartov, Tvrdošín). The “articled” churches are other type of wooden churches (for instance Sv. Kríž, Leštiny, Kežmarok, Hronsek). The “articled” churches are those built under the article of the law issued by Emperor Leopold I at the end of the 17th century.
Banská Štiavnica lies amid the forests of the Štiavnické vrchy Mts. and is included on the List of the UNESCO World Heritage List. The former mining town Banská Štiavnica (population 10,900) is one of the most beautiful and in historical terms one of the most interesting towns in Slovakia. Extraction of precious metals in central part of the Štiavnické vrchy Mts. enjoys a very long history. The area was first mentioned in the document from 1156 as terra banensium or the land of miners. Silver ore prevailed among the mined metals and Banská Štiavnica won the attribute of “silver town”.
Caves of the Slovak Karst
The caves of the Slovak and Aggtelek Karst have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1995. Thanks to a bilateral Slovak and Hungarian nomination project, our joint caves can now be admired by everyone. To this day, more than 1,000 caves and abysses with different forms of sinter and ice fillings have been discovered on and below the karst plains. Such a concentration of caves probably cannot be found anywhere else in the moderate climatic zone.
Another Slovak town inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List is the historic Bardejov, one of the oldest Slovak towns. The town of Bardejov (population 33,700) in the Eastern part of Slovakia was rightly awarded the European award, gold medal of ICOMOS Foundation of UNESCO in 1986 and it was inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage List of the same organisation in 2000.
The world famous spa town of Piešťany is situated in the northern part of the region of Dolné Považie at the foothills of the Považský Inovec Mountain. Its fame is associated with the medicinal geothermal water and medicinal sulphuric mud. The mud and thermal mineral water in Piešťany have remarkable therapeutic effects on locomotion apparatus disorders and are unique not only in Europe, but worldwide too.
The village Štefanová with numerous buildings built in traditional style is situated in the north-west of Slovakia at the foothill of the mountain Veľký Rozsutec (1,610 m). The area of the Veľký Rozsutec Mt. is the National Nature Reserve. Part of the reserve is the system of gorges called Diery. It consists of three independent parts. The Dolné diery is the gorge accessible by ladders and footbridges. The Horné diery is another gorge between the Veľký and Malý Rozsutec Mts. characterised by spectacular rocks, waterfalls and abundant and rare flora. The Nové diery is the third gorge, which protrudes from the Dolné diery up the stream of one of the tributaries of the brook.
Region of Liptov
The region of Liptov lies in the north of Slovakia and its north-eastern part borders on Poland. Its natural scenery is one of the most beautiful in Slovakia. The Veľká Fatra Mts., the ridge of the Chočské vrchy Mts. and the ridge of the West Tatras form the northern limit of the region. The southern border of the region coincides with the ridge of the Low Tatras, and the ridge of the Veľká Fatra Mts. marks the western border. The Čierny Váh and the Biely Váh rivers rise in Liptov and their confluence creates the Váh - the longest river in Slovakia. Thanks to unique natural assets and cultural monuments, Liptov is one of the most attractive regions of Slovakia.