A landlocked country in central Europe there is much more to this beautiful place than scenic countryside and colourful traditions. Here are some of the most interesting facts about the country!
1. Slovakia is one of the newest countries in the world. Slovakia was established as an independent nation on January 1, 1993 when Czechoslovakia split into the two nations, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. After a peaceable separation with the Austrian Hungarian empire, Slovakia and Czech Republic were known as Czechoslovakia. The beginning of World War II ruined a planned vote for independence in 1939.
2. People confuse Slovakia and Slovenia so much, that embassy representatives from each country get together once a month to exchange mail that was meant for the other country. Slovenia gets mail meant for Slovakia and Slovakia gets mail meant for Slovenia. The two countries find it humorous and don’t take it as an insult.
3. There are more than 1,600 officially registered springs, many of them used as a source of mineral drinking water and the others are thermal springs for relaxing spas. You can buy bottled water from Slovak springs in every store – each type has a different benefit for your body. The biggest area for swimming is in Bešeňová, where 33 springs can be found.
4. After Austria, Slovakia has the largest natural freshwater supplies. It’s mainly the underground reserves of Zitny ostrov. High-quality drinking water is flowing right from our taps.
5. Great treasure, nearly 3,000 gold coins, two meters long gold chain and medals from the 17th century, was miraculously found (and not lost straight away) during construction works in Kosice. You can spot it in the Vychodoslovenske museum.
6. Slovakia has 180 castles and 425 chateaux – huge numbers for a small country! So, wherever you go, you will see at least one castle or chateaux. The most popular of them all is Spiš Castle, which is also one of the largest in Central Europe (it is included in the UNESCO List of World’s Cultural and Natural Heritage).
7. The picturesque village of Čičmany in Northern Slovakia has a status of world’s first reservation of folk architecture. Surrounded by mountains the village is famous especially for its traditional wooden houses. The walls of these timber houses are decorated with white geometrical patterns, same shapes can be found on the folk costumes of the villagers. More than 130 houses belong to the historic preservation area.
8. The highest statue of a horse in the world is located in the Sport and Congress Center in Samorín-Cilistov. It is made entirely of stainless steel, rises to a height of almost nine meters and weighs 20 tons.
9. The oldest archaeological toy discovery in Central Europe was found in the archaeological site near Kosice. Four-wheeled pushcart from the grave of a child comes from the period around 1600 BC. You can see it in the Archaeological Institute of SAV in Kosice.
10. More than six thousand caves have been discovered in Slovakia so far! Most spectacular caves can be found in the national parks of Low Tatras, Slovak Paradise and Slovak Karst. Many of them represent unique natural wonders. Ochtinska Aragonite Cave is the only one aragonite cave located in Europe and a huge 34 m high sinter column in Krasnohorska cave is even listed in the Guinness Book of Records.
11. Kosice Peace Marathon is the oldest marathon in Europe and the world’s second oldest (after Boston Marathon). It is held every year in Kosice, in the eastern part of Slovakia, on the first Sunday in October.
12. Since November 2014 all children, full-time students less than 26 years old, widowed or disabled pensioners under 62 and seniors 62 and older are eligible to travel by train for free using the national railways. It is available only for citizens or permanent residents of countries that are member states of the European Union.
How to reach?
Air Slovakia, Czech Airlines and Tatra Air have regular flights to M R Stefanik International Airport in Bratislava. Vienna International Airport / Wien Schwechat is another airport located around 50 kilometers from Bratislava (located in Austria) and connects the city to Vienna and Wolfsthal among other cities One can also reach Bratislava by train from Moscow, Vienna, Budapest and Poland.
Košice: Lying along the Hornad River in the eastern part of Slovakia, Kosice is a must visit. Kosice is home to a number of museums and art galleries, making it a haven for those who like to immerse themselves in cultural activities and sites. The city goes back to the medieval period and has some breathtaking tourist attractions like the St. Elisabeth’s Cathedral and the Spiš Castle.
Banská Štiavnica: Lying at the center of what used to be an enormous caldera, Banská Štiavnica is a fascinating city to explore. Only about 10,000 people call this town home, but they are fortunate enough to be living in an extraordinarily well-preserved medieval town that is another one of Slovakia’s UNESCO sites. Thinking of sightseeing in Slovakia? Banska Stianvnica is worth a look.
Visit the National Parks: With 9 national parks and 14 protected landscape areas, there is a lot to choose from when visiting Slovakia. Most of them are located in central part of the country, and the best part is you can visit them by using public transport!
- The best-known park is the High Tatras with peaks over 2500m. Due to the breathtakingly beautiful landscapes, the mountain range lends itself perfectly to all different types of outdoor activities. There are plenty of paths and trails for you to hike, cycle, or ski along, and the views are simply out of this world.
- Slovak Paradise National Park is another national park in Slovakia which I think is accurately named. With a wealth of forests, meadows, plateaus, canyons and caves, the park’s landscape is a playground ready for you to explore. The scenery is absolutely stunning wherever you go; amid the dense undergrowth, you can find sparkling waterfalls and deep rocky gorges, with the astounding Dobsinska Ice Cave just one of its main attractions. There are plenty of hikes here which include passing through system of ladders, catwalks and bridges past waterfalls and lush vegetation in the park’s remarkable gorges.
Poprad: Propad is technically part of the High Tatras Mountain area and is often seen as the ‘gateway’ to this stunning area. Honestly, it’s the perfect place to visit if you’re looking for a little civilisation after some time in the mountains. Some of the notable Slovakia attractions here include the Baroque and Renaissance period church, Church of John the Baptist, and the thermal park Aqua City Poprad.
Explore the castles: As mentioned above, Slovakia has almost 180 castles. So, make sure you explore some of them to dive into the country’s rich cultural past. Some of the most beautiful castles here are Spiš Castle, Bojnice Castle, and Orava Castle.