You just arrived in the Tatra mountains and ... it's raining cats and dogs. It has been raining for days. The footpaths are waterlogged, the visibility is zero, and your plans for a restful day in the sun, under a blue sky are by now equally waterlogged. Yet if you are considering to pack up and leave, banish that thought.
Quite near the Tatra mountains, directly under them in fact, lies one of the most beautiful regions of Slovakia and certainly one of the most interesting within Central Europe. It is a region called Spiš.
It is hard to explore all points of interest on offer here, even if you had two weeks at your disposal. What we cover below are just the highlights. This is a place where medieval history is preserved in countless Gothic and Renaissance structures that blend harmoniously with beautiful nature and largely preserved folk architecture. This is why many sights of region were selected to be in the UNESCO world heritage list, which underscores the value of it and amazing natural charms. Therefore it is a region that you should definitely not omit from your travel plans. Especially these ten places.
1 | SPIŠ CASTLE
This giant hardly needs an introduction. After all, we have been describing its beauty and significance in several of our articles.. It is one of the largest castles in the world and an official UNESCO monument, which perfectly crowns this historic locality that has remained almost intact through the centuries..
2 | SPIŠSKÁ KAPITULA
Once again a UNESCO monument. The seat of the bishop of Spiš and an important ecclesiastical town surrounded by walls. Something like the Slovak version of the Vatican, with the beautiful Romanesque-Gothic Basilica of St. Martin standing in the middle of this medieval setting.
3 | LEVOČA
A medieval town on a hill surrounded by fortifications. Again a UNESCO protected site. Within the five places that you really should add to your must-visit list, it will impress you given that it has the highest wooden Gothic altar in the whole world. This was created by the mysterious master Paul of Levoča.
4 | SUCHÁ BELÁ GORGE
The Slovenský Raj (raj means paradise in Slovak) itself needs at least a week’s visit to do it justice. But if you do not have that much time definitely explore Suchá Belá gorge. Probably the most beautiful gorge in this national park, where there is no lack for breathtaking natural wonders.
5 | THE WOODEN EVANGELICAL CHURCH OF KEŽMAROK
The historical town of Kežmarok itself is worth the same lengthy visit as its main medieval rival Levoča. And during your visit you should definitely pay attention to its castle. But we have drawn your attention to his wooden Evangelical church because, although being as inconspicuous as a shell from the outside, its interior unveils a beauty akin to a magnificent pearl. The church was made of wood without using a single nail, which makes it unique. And yes, this is once again a UNESCO heritage list site.
6 | DUNAJEC RIVER CANYON
Whoever has experienced traditional rafting on wooden planks across the longest limestone canyon of Europe, usually feels they have to come back again. And it will not be just for the splendor of this canyon, where the wild river makes its way through breathtaking elevations. The Pieniny itself is a place where the medieval history of Poland and Slovakia blends with spectacular views overlooking the Dunajec river.
7 | STARÁ ĽUBOVŇA CASTLE
One of the most beautiful castles of northern Slovakia and a rival of the nearby Spiš Castle. Here there were hid the Polish coronation jewels in the past and nowadays you can also explore medieval open-air museum and a medieval military camp. One could spend half a day here easily.
8 | STRÁŽKY CHATEAU
The Renaissance jewel of the town of Spišská Belá. Here you will have the chance to see the work of painter Ladislav Mednyanski, the beautiful historical library and an exposition of historic furniture, or simply just relax in the expansive and beautiful English park.
9 | ZÁPOĽSKÝ FAMILY CHAPEL
Have you ever visited the Sainte Chapelle in Paris? Did you know that in Slovakia we have a nearly identical building? Have a look at Spišský Štvrtok and see for yourself. Truly this must be most beautiful funeral chapel.
10 | SPIŠSKÁ NOVÁ VES
The current county town of Spiš replaced Levoča´s role as the main urban area locally. It is not only the town square itself, considered to be the largest elliptical square in the world, and thus worthy of your attention. Since we are in a record-breaking mode, Spišská Nová Ves has another one for you, it is home to the highest church tower in Slovakia, and it offers beautiful views of the city and the majestic Tatras in the distance.
SPIŠ HIGHLIGHTS ON THE MAP
Ⓒ Expedition Slovakia 2017