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.

Western Slovakia


 Photo: Spectaular archives

Trenčín is one of Slovakia's most enchanting cities. Trenčín Castle is the third largest in Slovakia, behind Spišský Hrad and Bratislava Castle. And it is striking, looming high above the picturesque old town below. There is also great hiking, with trails into the forest starting directly from the town centre. In these hills, hikers are offered the unique sight of Trenčín Castle from the rear, plus a monument in the middle of the forest erected in memory of those who were killed by the Nazis in World War II. An unnerving stone carving depicts a man, hands tied behind his back, with his head being forced under water at gunpoint.

There is also wonderful nightlife. Trenčín has a great selection of pubs, restaurants and cafes from which live music is often heard spilling out into the evening air.

Whatever you do in Trenčín, make sure to include a few minutes of sitting on a bench on Mierové Námestie at night. From here, what may be the most magical view in Slovakia is on offer: the magnificent Trenčín Castle ablaze in a flood of lights. Breathtaking. This is a special place. Visitors should also visit the nearby spa village Trenčianske Teplice, discussed in the spa chapter.

Getting there

By train: Trenčín is on the main Bratislava-Košice route.

By car: Take the E75 highway north-east out of Bratislava. Trenčín is about 120 kilometres away from the capital.

Information centre

Kultúrno informačné centrum mesta Trenčín, Štúrovo námestie 10. Tel: 032 16-186,


Although little known, Skalica is a beautiful town, and should not be missed. The area has been inhabited since 4000 BC. It became a key European town with the fall of the Great Moravian Empire when, after borders were redrawn, Skalica - or Zakolcha, as it was known then - found itself straddling the boundary between the Hungarian and Czech Kingdoms.

The old town is still laid out according to the original medieval urban plan, which included two kilometres of town fortification walls built in the 15th century. The walls were eight metres tall and nearly two metres thick. Several sections are still standing.

Skalica's most recognisable monument is the Rotunda Sv. Juraja (St. George's Rotunda), found on a hill just north of the city centre. The structure is so old that historians do not actually know when it was first erected. What is known is that in 1372 it was rebuilt in the Gothic style, and that it was incorporated into the town fortification system the next century. Thus the upper half of the building was used for military purposes, while the lower section retained its function as a chapel. In the 17th century, the rotunda was recast in the baroque style it assumes today. The rotunda hill offers the best view of Skalica.

The Dom Kultúry (Culture House), also known as Slovenský Dom (Slovak House), is where the tourist information centre is located. Next door is the Záhorské Museum, where visitors can view pottery, ceramics, tools, furniture and clothing used and made by generations of Zahorians. Skalica has long been a wine-making centre, and its most prestigious winery, Masaryk, is profiled in our wine chapter. Skalica is also notable for its churches.

Getting there

By train: Take train to Kúty and then switch to local train to Skalica. Trip takes between two and two and a half hours.

By bus: Direct buses take two hours from Bratislava. You may have to change buses in Senica.

These articles and related information were published in Spectacular Slovakia 2003.

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