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.


Towering above the Váh

 photo: Ján Svrček

When people think of the Slovak National Uprising - which saw outnumbered and poorly-equipped Slovak partisans battling Nazi troops in World War II - they think of the Banská Bystrica region, where the brunt of the battles took place. But it was actually in the hills around Strečno where the first fighting broke out.

Today Strečno is known for its mighty castle ruin high atop a rocky promontory above the River Váh. First built in the 13th century, it was burnt down in the 17th century, fell to ruin, and was partially reconstructed in the 20th century.

The castle is located in the rugged Malá Fatra mountains, 12 kilometres south-east of Žilina (look for it on your right when travelling by train from Bratislava to Košice). Strečno sits in an area known as Považie, a part of the larger Žilina region, which claims to have the highest concentration of castles in Slovakia (although south-central Slovakia makes that same assertion).

To reach the ruin from the river, follow the winding stone path up the hill, over a wooden footbridge and into the castle courtyard. The living quarters and castle chapel have been reconstructed and an exhibition on the castle’s history awaits inside. The view of the village and the river below gives a clear illustration of how abruptly the stone precipice rises from the river, and how high. From here a monument built in 1956 to honour French soldiers for their part in the Uprising can be seen on Zvonica Hill, a couple hundred metres to the west.

For those travelling by car, a fun way to leave the village is by taking the car ferry across the Váh. It costs just 40 crowns per auto if you speak Slovak (the price is listed at 70 crowns in English). The hand-cranked ferry provides travellers with the wonderful memory of floating across the country’s longest river in a land thick with castles and history.

- Chris Togneri

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

Make your comment to the article...