These articles were published in the Spectacular Slovakia travel guide, published annually by The Slovak Spectator since 1996. The latest editions can be obtained from our online shop.

Southern Slovakia

 photo: Ján Svrček

Southern Slovakia is something different. In a country known for its mountains, the south is characterised by flat flood plains and sprawling farmlands. The spoken language of choice is Hungarian, and in many areas ethnic Slovaks are a significant minority.

South of Bratislava is the Gabčíkovo dam on the Danube River. Engineering fans will want to check out this behemoth construction.

Further along the Danube is Komárno, the city with central Europe’s most extensive fortification system remains. The city also has the newest and brightest square in the country: Europe Place. Constructed to parade the citizenry’s enthusiasm for European integration, the square displays architectural designs distinct to countries and regions from all around Europe and beyond.

The last Slovak stop on the Danube before heading south to Budapest is Štúrovo, named after the legendary Slovak hero Ľudovít Štúr. While Štúrovo is itself rather unremarkable, the city on the Hungarian side, Ezstergom, is stunning. The massive basilica above the town is one of the grandest churches in all of Europe. Thanks to the recent reconstruction of the Mária Valéria bridge, visitors can walk across the river in just a few minutes.

Besides Slovaks and Hungarians, the Turks also played a major role is shaping southern Slovakia. Battles with the invading Turks raged for centuries, and much of this area fell under Turkish control at some time between the 15th and 18th centuries.

Dozens of castles were either erected or fortified to defend against the attacks. Today, most are nothing more than crumbling ruins. Yet tracing the deteriorating line of castles is a fascinating voyage back in time. Many are remote and accessible only by foot. But for those travelling by car, a complete ruins tour can be completed in a few days.

One highlight of the tour is Šomoška, a ruin on the Hungarian-Slovak border. The walk up leads past rare volcanic rock formations, and then on to the ruin. Although the village and ruin are separated by just a few metres, the ruin is part of Slovakia, while the village belongs to Hungary.

Welcome to southern Slovakia.

- Chris Togneri

These articles and related information were published in Spectacular Slovakia 2002.

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