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Friday, February 23, 2018

About Slovakia

Basic info

Until December 31th 1992 Slovakia was a part of Czechoslovakia, from January 1st 1993 it is an independent state. Slovakia is rather smaller, with the area approximately the size of Denmark, Switzerland or Holland. It lies right in the heart of Europe, Surrounded by Czech republic, Poland, Ukraine, Hungary and Austria. There are some 5.3 mil inhabitants there. In Bratislava, country’s capital, more than 400 000 people live. Among the other important cities are Košice, Banská Bystrica, Žilina, Prešov, Trenčín and Trnava. On May 1st 2004 Slovakia became an EU member and since January 1st 2009 the Slovak currency is Euro.

 

Nature

Despite its small area Slovakia is pretty diversified country. Due to its nature it belongs to the prettiest European states. One can find here both lowlands and mountains, water reservoirs, lakes and tarns, gorges and gulleys, caves, wide plains, dense forests and primeval forests. The altitude ranges from  94 to 2655 meters above sea level – Gerlachovský pike, highest point of High Tatra mountains as well as Carpathian mountains. Slovakia's flora and fauna are very varied too. A whole third of its area is covered by forests, including several primeval forests (Dobročský prales, Badínsky prales, Stužica). Slovakia is one of the mostly forested countries in Europe. Several endemic species, i.e. plants that cannot be found anywhere else, grow here. There are also many various kinds of animals here – besides deer, foxes and wild boars it is approximated that some 800 bears and 150 to 400 wolfs live in Slovak forests.  One can also meet the biggest European feline beast – lynx lynx. 

There are 9 national parks in Slovakia – The Tatra National Park (NP), Pieniny NP, Nízke Tatry NP, Malá Fatra NP, Veľká Fatra NP, Slovak Paradise NP, Muránska Plain NP, Slovenský kras NP and Poloniny NP.  Every single one of them is specific and different than the others. In many cases these areas are intact by human activities; the time has stopped here...

 

Castles, chateaus, manor-houses

Slovakia is also rich in castles, chateaus and manor-houses. There are approximately 600 (including those in ruins), what places Slovakia among the European countries with most castles and chateaus.  The most important ones are: Bratislavský Castle, Oravský Castle, Trenčiansky Castle, Devín, Krásna Hôrka, Bojnický Chateau, Zvolenský Castle, Spišský Castle, Stará Ľubovňa Castle. The first castles were built as early as 11th century in order to protect the land. Later on some of them were reconstructed, others burnt-out and turned into ruins. Today there are plenty of well kept castles, chateaus and manor-houses in Slovakia. The best known ones are the Bratislavský Castle, Trenčiansky Castle, Oravský Castle and Bojnický Chateau.

 

Spas, natural springs, caves

Slovakia is well known for its spas. One can find plenty of balneal towns - Piešťany, Bardejov, Trenčianske Teplice, Turčianske Teplice. There are more than a hundred of mineral and healing springs there. Slovakia also has plenty of caves, over 4000! 15 of them are opened for public and 6 are a part of UNESCO World heritage List: Dobšinská Ice Cave, Domica, Gombasecká Cave, Jasovská Cave, Krásnohorská Cave and Ochtinská Aragonite Cave. Dobšinská Ice Cave and Ochtinská Aragonite Cave belong to the most important world’s caves. Our caves are visited by more than 600 000 people every year.

 

Open-Air Museums

Slovakia has several specific regions where the inhabitants lived in a different way, preserving their ancient traditions, such as Kysuce, Orava, Turiec, Liptov, Spiš, Zamgurie, Šariš, Gemer, Zemplín and others. These regions are well known for their architecture, clothes and customs. The Slovak open-air museums depict the life of people from these regions. One can also find here the typical buildings like the houses, churches, schools and even typical Slovak pubs. The best known ones are Kysuce village Museum in Vychylovka, Liptovská village Museum in Pribylina, Slovak village Museum in Martin, Oravská village Museum in Zuberec, Zamagurská village Museum in Stará Ľubovňa and Ukrainian village Museum in Svidník.

 
 
Turism

Slovakia offers tourists very attractive options – from easy walks to difficult mountain ascends, everybody can choose what they like the best. Tourism in Slovakia has a long tradition. Slovakia has extensive system of tourist routes, more than 11 000 kilometers combined. Their marking is among the best in whole Europe – its tradition lasts for over 130 years. The best known mountains of Slovakia are the High Tatras.

Through Slovakia crosses European Route No. E 3 (starting in world known pilgrim town of Santiago de Compostela), Route No. E 8 (starting in Rotterdam at the Atlantic ocean shore, crossing the whole Slovakia and ending in Svilengrad at the Turkish border) and international Route No I 23 (connecting Holy Mary’s pilgrim towns of Częstochowa in Poland, Levoča in Slovakia and Mariazell in Austria).

 

UNESCO sights

UNESCO sights are true world’s jewels. UNESCO List contains these Slovak sights:Spišský castle and its surroundingsVlkolínec village, towns of Bardejov, Banská Štiavnica and Levoča, wooden churches of the Carpathian mountain area, caves and abysses of Slovenský Kras, Dobšinská Ice Cave, primeval forests in Bukovské and Vihorlatské hills.

 

Interesting facts
  • The geographical centre of Europe lies next to the Kremnické Bane village, where St. John the Baptist's Church was built
  • Chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra tatrica) is a individual sub-species that only lives in the High Tatras
  • The longest cave system in Slovakia is the Demänovské Caves System, over 35 km long
  • The famous silent movie vampire from Nosferatu (Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens) was being filmed at Oravský castle in 1921
  • Spišský Castle is the largest castle complex in the Central Europe
  • The first world’s university of mining was established in Banská Štiavnica in 1762
  • St. Elizabeth’s Cathedral is the most eastbound gothic cathedral in Europe
  • The tallest world’s gothic altar (18,6 meters) was made by Master Pavol from Levoča and is located in St. Jakub’s Church in Levoča
  • Kremnica Mint started coins’ production in 1328 and is still in operation
  • The second tallest Slovak peak – Lomnický Peak (2632 m above sea level) can be reached by a cable-car. On its peak a meteorological station is built
  • In Krásnohorská Cave the world’s longest dripstone (32,6 meters) can be found. It is also registered in Guiness book of records

 

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