Slovakia

Slovakia is just under 50,000 square kilometres large – or should I say small?  Let’s face it, that means it’s only just about bigger than Wales.  It lies to the east of the Czech Republic and for about 60 years or so the two countries were joined together in one country, called Czechoslovakia.  This all came to an end in 1993, when the two countries agreed to separate again.

Did you know that during it’s long history, Slovakia was part of the Moravian Kingdom. It then became part of the Hungarian Empire followed by the Austro-Hungarian Empire and then the union with the Czechs into Czechoslovakia.  So this independent Slovakia is a really very young country.

Zacopane (18).jpgSlovakia has some of the most natural borders possible.  To the north there are the massive Tatra Mountains, which separate it from its neighbour Poland.  In the north-west you’ll find the Carpathian Mountains ‘keeping out’ the Czechs, while in the west the river Danube separates Slovakia from Austria, as it flows along its border all the way from Bratislava to the south, where eventually it enters Hungarian soil.   In the east, Slovakia borders the Ukraine, and this is not just Slovakia’s border, but also the border between European Union and countries to the east.

Bratislava (18).JPGA new country needs a new capital, and Bratislava took the title.  It has a big neighbour to look up to though.  Austria’s capital Vienna, one-time home of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Habsburg dynasty lies just one hour west of Bratislava.   Bratislava is putting on a brave face though.  Its buildings and squares are all being restored and transformed into fashionable places to be, and there is a real sense of fun.  Where else would you find bronze statues of photographers snapping your picture and street cleaners stuck in a manhole.  In fact, there are so many bronze statues, and they are so cleverly placed that you will have a hard time finding them all – but you could try.

Kosice (20).JPGSlovakia’s oldest capital, though, is found much further east.   The beautiful town of Kosice is found close to the Ukrainian border and is a great place to spend a few days.   Cars are not allowed in its city centre and its main street has the greatest water fountains, which light up in colours at night and ‘dance’ to music being played on loudspeakers around the park.  Kosice also has the cheapest (but delicious) ice cream we’ve ever had, and there are recently discovered tunnels for you to explore.  Nearby there are beautiful lakes, excellent castles, miles of caves and the narrowest of gorges to explore.  And then there are those stunning mountains and the loveliest of people.  Yes, you will definitely fall for Slovakia.

This text was taken from different sections of ‘My Travel Kit for Slovakia’.  If you would like more information, please contact me.