Gothic Road - Spiš a Gemer

Gothic Road is the first thematic cultural tour in Slovakia. In a comprehensive way it will introduce you to the interesting and valuable treasures of the region Spiš-Gemer: castles high on the top of the hills, preserved historical city centers, museums, cathedrals, as well as village churches, bourgeois houses or romantic stone bridges, unique natural monuments and caves.

You will be amazed by the traces left from other historical periods and cultures, in addition to gothic buildings and art creations.

 

Levoča

Levoča became an independent royal city in the 14th century and was among the prominent cities in Slovakia. Thanks to the preserved unique cultural monuments it has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage Collection.

 

Attractions in Levoča:

Biggest wooden carved altar in the world (18.6m tall and 6m wide) made by Master Paul (Majster Pavol).

Town Hall from 15th century with allegorical frescoes on the southern façade.

Cage of Shame is an interesting metal construction dating back to 16th century when it was used for minor delinquencies and as a way to punish unfaithful wives.

Castle fortifications surround historical center in the length of almost 2.5km, consisting of two parts and a free space in between called “Zvinger”. Visitors can still observe the original gates, bastions and towers from 13th century that used to be part of the fortification.

 

Castle Krásna Hôrka

One of the best preserved Gothic castles in Slovakia accommodating the original interior dates back to 1320. Particularly interesting is the castle kitchen and a collection of weapons. The most valuable exhibits are e.g. bronze cannon from 1547 with barrels of gunpowder and cannon balls or hook guns (harquebus) from 18th and 19th century. During annual castle games a massive medieval slingshot is also used that was originally installed in the end of 20th century.

 

 

Betliar Mansion

Betliar mansion is a representative hunting lodge surrounded by a charming English park with romantic structures, artificial cave and waterfall. Equally interesting is the interior with the gallery of paintings, music and hunting salons, library, historic furniture and exotic collections. After this reconstruction the mansion was awarded the EUROPA NOSTRA AWARD

 

 

 

 

Dobšinská Ice Cave

Dobšinská Ice Cave is situated in the Slovak Paradise and with its length and depth it belongs to one of the largest caves in Europe. The thickness (some places up to 25m) and amount of the ice found in the cave cannot be found anywhere else in Europe besides the Alpine regions. Because of its significance and unique décor, it was included into UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage.

The Cave was discovered in 1870 by mining engineer E. Ruffini and one year later it was open to the public. In 1882 it became the first electrically lit cave in the Kingdom of Hungary (Uhorsko) and was visited by several prominent people e.g. by the Bulgarian tsar and Serbian King. In the 1890 in the Great Hall was held a concert in the honor of Karl Ludwig Habsburg. In the past it was also used in summer for ice skating. Dobšinská Ice Cave was originally interconnected with Stratená Cave but due to the collapse of one part this connection ceased to exist. 

 

Ochtinská Aragonite Cave

Ochtinská Aragonitová Cave is one of the three aragonite caves discovered in the world, making it a rare and unique phenomenon of underground karsts. It attracts visitors with its diversity and richness of the aragonite filling and specially formed underground rooms and tunnels. It obtained a deserved place in the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage list due to its rarity and unique design.

The cave is not big but it is extremely rare. Its value lies in the Aragonite decoration (especially the famous Heart in the Little Castle) that is the only of its kind in the Central Europe. Rich and varied aragonite filling in shapes of dots, spirals and needle shaped crystals resemble corals and together they create unusually diverse and exquisite pictures. Hall of the Milky Way is considered to be the most beautiful place in the cave. White aragonite crystals shine in the light of reflectors like stars in the Milky Way, hence the name. The uniqueness of snow-white shrubs will take away the breath of every visitor.

 

Kežmarok

Kežmarok is a city with rich history dating back more than 750 years. The spirit of the past survived not only in the castle walls but also in the renaissance town hall and bourgeois houses. The greatest prides of the former royal city are guilds and crafts which made Kežmarok famous in the neighboring cities and faraway lands. Kežmarok, as a crossroads of trade routes, was well known by buyers and traders from North Africa, Baltic´s, Europe and near Asia. The success of the business is reflected by the numerous artifacts found in the area.

Today this tradition carries on in the form of European Folk Crafts Festival, receiving increasing public interest since 1991. During the three days of the festival, the Spirit of the past is brought back to life.

Artistic and practical products made by the hands of skilled craftsmen are often a reminder of already forgotten crafts and traditions. Due to the summer holidays, the festival is a favorite stop for many tourists. In addition to the crafts and rich cultural programs, they can visit the exposition in the Kežmarok Castle, exhibition in the galleries, beautiful old library in the lyceum or freshen up in the shade of old churches.

 

 

Spiš Castle

The hill castle stands on is considered a unique place – signs of inhabitance by Neolithic people trace back almost 7000 years. Long before that Neanderthal man called this place a home. In the cave under the castle man skeletal remains were recently discovered together with two leather pouches and Celtic coins dating back nearly 2000 years. More than 800 years ago a magnificent stone castle was built on the top of the hill but in 1780 it was permanently damaged by fire. The castle ruins together with Spiš area became a part of UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage in 1993. It became a popular attraction not only for tourists but also for photographers and filmmakers who often use its scenery e.g. in the movie Last Legion.

 

 

Horse Geoglyph under the Spiš Castle

The silhouette of one of the biggest castles in Europe is not the only thing that catches the eye of the tourist. From the far distance, visitors can observe in the ground a stone design of a horse, one of a kind geoglyph artwork. It was created by Australian sculptor Andrew Rogers as a part of the “Rhythm of Life” project under the auspices of UNESCO who used local stones – Spiš travertine.

The model for the relief was a horse depicted on a Celtic coin found in archeological excavations at Spiš Castle. This artwork is one of the largest art creations in the world (100 x 100 meters). 

 

 

 

 

Red Monastery (Červený Kláštor)

Medieval Cartesian Red Monastery from 1319 was also later inhabited by Camaldulsian monks. While on the rise, it became an important cultural and spiritual center of the region and had many privileges e.g. right to the milling, fishing and brewing. Interestingly, the oldest power plant in Slovakia was probably built there.

You can admire rare artistic and historical monuments, pharmaceutical expositions, herbarium from legendary monk Cyprian or traditional clothing and folk fabrics. Additionally worth seeing are Latin-Slovak dictionary, translation of the Bible by monk Romuald Hadbavny, the St. Anton Gothic church from 14th century and its precious Baroque sculptures, monastic cells with small gardens or renovated mill. Some of the trees in the “Pieniny lime-tree” protected area in front of the monastery have a circumference of up to 6m.

 

Podolínec

Belongs to the oldest cities in Slovakia that already in 1292 received its city rights and privileges. In 1412 the town was promoted to a royal city. In the same year King Žigmund gave the city as a deposit to the Polish King Vladislav.

 

Main city landmarks and picturesque historical square are surrounded by renaissance buildings and parish church containing medieval wall paintings.

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