It became a country on January 1, 1993. It’s the home of the Danube, Europe’s second longest river at 1,777 miles long. Home of free train fares for all children, the disabled, full time students under 26, pensioners under 62, seniors over 62 and widows. Home to over 1,300 mineral springs and a ridiculously large number of wooden churches. Where Andy Warhol’s parents were born. His father emigrated from Miková in 1914 and his mother in 1921. Home of the Košice Peace Marathon, the oldest marathon in Europe and the sixth oldest marathon in the world. And it’s the home of the largest wooden altar in the world. Today, we’re in the Land of Castles, Slovakia.
The Slovak Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe, bordered by Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Ukraine. It is the 130th largest country with an area of 19,000 square miles, with the 117th largest population with just over five million people. The coat of arms on the flag signifies the historical connection to Hungary, an adapted version of the Hungarian coat of arms – the white cross symbolises the Christian faith of the people and the mountains represent the Fatra, Matra and Tatra mountains of Slovakia. The blue, white and red are traditional Slavonic colours, colours of harmony and independence.
Slovakia is a prosperous, highly developed and extremely safe country, famed for its rich culture, natural beauty and vivid history. It’s a place of art and strong folk tradition, reflected in architecture, dance, literature and music. Generally, Slovaks are friendly, hospitable and peaceful people, who are well mannered and value traditional etiquette.
Slovakia is largely mountainous to the north with vast expanses of lowland to the south. It’s a natural land with many caves, lakes, rivers and valleys. A beautiful scenic paradise.
There are sights to see such as Štrbské pleso. I might not be able to pronounce it, but my word, what a magnificent and picturesque mountain lake. The glistening and calm blue waters reflect the boscaresque trees with such grace every photo is almost like a piece of art. Coupled with the dominant mountains in the background, it becomes something remarkably striking. You also have Spiš Castle, one of the hundreds if not thousands that adorn and enhance the landscape. It’s quite special. It bursts from a hill quite triumphantly, and is draped quite stunningly across the ground. It’s unique. It’s raw and unending allure is a thing to behold, quite unlike anything else on Earth. Then there’s Michael’s Gate, a colossal white tower, a 715-year-old beautifully decorated piece of Baroque art. The raimentless energy of this 55 yard tall city gate creates what is, quite simply, a pulchritudinous masterpiece. And then there’s Bratislava Castle, an immaculate, natural and elegant white wonder standing high and mighty atop a grand perch. The gleaming white walls shout a song isangelous, music that captivates one’s senses in a frenzy of delight and merriment. It is truly stunning.
But I think the best sight of Slovakia is St. Elisabeth Cathedral in Košice, a massive gothic building of the utmost sumptuous architectural detailing. The wonderful craftsmanship of the vast expanses of stone is a beginningless poetry, each line a perfect thread in an exquisite quilt. The 507-year-old building stands as pristine and pretty as the day it was born, an ethereal monument to the majesty of marvellous human endeavour.
Slovakia. The country of outstanding natural beauty, rich history and castles.
1) The flag of Slovakia (credit: wikipedia.org)
2) St. Elisabeth Cathedral (credit: commons.wikimedia.org)
3) Bratislava Castle (credit: wikipedia.org)
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