Levoca was proclaimed the capital of the Spissachsen in 1271 and a free royal city in 1323. The city center is now a listed building and offers many sights, such as St. James’ Church with the almost 19 m high and 6 m wide altar carved by Master Pavol (1508). The Renaissance town hall and over 50 town houses are worth seeing.
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There are five national parks and 16 other protected areas in the Slovak Republic. The landscape is varied and offers a unique flora and fauna. The Low Tatra National Park in the heart of Slovakia includes several ski and holiday resorts as well as the Demänova valley with its extensive cave system. The Tatra National Park is the oldest protected landscape area in the country. Tatranská Lomnica, a well-known winter sports resort, is a good starting point for trips to the High Tatras. The Pieniny National Park is located 30 km northeast of the High Tatras and partially belongs to Poland. Small Fatra National Park is known for its valleys, gorges and diverse wildlife and is very popular with hikers at any time of the year. Slovensky Raj National Park has rugged landscape and many waterfalls; Cingov and Hrabusice-Podlesok are suitable starting points for hikes in the area. Cyclists will also find well-marked paths.
The enchanting mountain, lake and forest landscape of Slovakia is ideal for all outdoor activities all year round. Europe’s longest cycle path leads through Slovakia. This route starts in Passau and runs along the Danube to Bratislava and on to Stúrovo. Visitors can also take a ferry across the Danube and continue the journey through Hungary.
Winter sports resorts are spread over 30 mountain regions. In the High Tatras you will find the highest peaks in Slovakia, whose scenic charms can best be explored on foot. However, in November 2004, about a quarter of the forest in the High Tatras was destroyed by a hurricane. The reforestation should happen within the next two decades. There are 40 lifts and cable cars in the High Tatras. Strbské Pleso is one of the best ski resorts and a venue for international ski competitions. The best known, however, is Smokovec, a large holiday center from which many excursions to the beautiful mountains begin.
Numerous lakes and rivers offer excellent opportunities for fishing, canoeing and swimming. The most famous resorts include Orava, Liptovská Mara, Zemplínska Sírava and Slnava.
Slovakia is rich in mineral and medicinal springs, which are used in spas for spa purposes and in climatic health resorts. There are a total of 23 state-approved health resorts, some of which are world-renowned . Bardejovské Kúpele has eight healing springs and was a spa town as early as the 13th century. In particular, digestive disorders, metabolic and respiratory diseases are treated here.
The thermal baths of Dundince, near the Hungarian border, are known for treating rheumatism, joint diseases and blood vessel diseases. The most important Slovak spa town is Piest’any,world-renowned for the treatment of rheumatic diseases. It was already used by the Roman legionnaires. Sliac is primarily used to treat cardiovascular disease. In the sulfur springs of Trencianske Teplice, which have existed since the 15th century, primarily musculoskeletal disorders are treated. Bojnice is one of the leading treatment centers for rheumatic diseases.
Bratislavais the capital of the Slovak Republic and the political, economic and cultural center of the country. The history of this beautiful Danube town goes back to the times of the Celts and Romans. Buildings from every imaginable stylistic era can be found here. The venerable castle, founded in the 10th century and rebuilt several times, overlooks the new Danube bridge and the historic quarter with medieval streets, the Gothic St. Martin Cathedral, the coronation church of Hungarian kings, the Roland fountain and the town hall. The coronation tower, in which the crown of St. Stephen was kept, is also located on the castle grounds. Numerous palaces are reminiscent of the imperial era: the baroque buildings Balássa Palace and Pálffy Palace, the Rococo-style Erdődy Palace and the French Classicism-style Primate’s Palace. Among the oldest architectural monuments in Bratislava are the Town Hall and the Franciscan Church from the 13th century. Bratislava has many museums and galleries that are worth seeing, such as the City of Bratislava Gallery with paintings and sculptures from the 15th-17th centuries. Century (housed in the Pállfy, Mirbach and Primatial palaces and in the Church of the Clarisse), the Slovak National Gallery (Slovak Gothic and Baroque art), the Pharmaceutical Museum and the Weapons and City Fortifications Museum near Michael’s Gate. The city’s theaters and concert halls have an excellent reputation. Also worth seeing is the University of Bratislava, which was built in the 15th century.
Trnavas, Nitra and Banská Stiavnica
The history of Trnavas dates back to the Stone Age. The university was founded in 1635 and is known for the buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries.
In Nitra there is a castle on the Zobor hill, from which there is a fantastic view of the city and the surrounding countryside.
The history of Banská Stiavnica (Schemnitz) is closely connected with mining, which started here in the 13th century. In the city center there are several Renaissance burgher houses. Also of interest is the Old Castle (1548), numerous sacred buildings and the 11 buildings of the Mining and Forestry Academy, which date from the 18th and 19th centuries. The mining town has been declared a UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage Site.