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

a land of castle ruins, chateaux and spa towns

 photo: Ján Svrček

Western Slovakia is a land of castle ruins, chateaux and spa towns. It is also a region of histor-ical significance: Nitra was the site of the first Slavic settlement on modern Slovak territory, and Trnava was the seat of the archbishop in the Hungarian Kingdom for over 200 years (1541-1808).

The grim deeds of Erzsébet Báthory, also known as the Bloody Countess, can be traced at the Čachtice castle ruin. Báthory was responsible for the murder and torture of over 600 young girls on those haunted grounds - she killed because she believed bathing in virgin blood would preserve her beauty. More striking ruins are found in Beckov, Lednické Rovné, Branč, and Hrušov.

Trenčín is home to the largest castle still standing today outside Bratislava. Piešťany is the country’s oldest and most famous spa town, drawing visitors from around the world to its healing waters.

In Topoľčianky, anyone with 40 dollars can sleep in the same manor house - in the same apartment and same bed - where former Czechoslovak presidents spent their holidays. Next door is the national ‘Stud Farm’, where guests can rent a mount for the day or take a ride in a buggy.

Bojnice has the country’s most beautiful castle, a stunning structure surrounded by a moat and topped by baby-blue spires. Festivals attract tourists to the sprawling castle grounds year-round, but the annual Ghost and Spirits Festival is the highlight.

A few kilomtres to the west is the sleepy village Uhrovec. There is an unassuming home here where by some fantastic coincidence two of Slovakia’s most famous historical figures were both born, over 100 years apart: Ľudovít Štúr and Alexander Dubček.

Finally, we have the Záhorie region, a slice of grassland extending from Bratislava to Moravia, confined in the west by the Austrian and Czech borders and the east by the Small Carpathian mountains. At the tip of the region is Skalica, a lovely town on the Czech border that few tourists make it to. Those who do, however, find one of the country’s hidden gems: the churches, the rotunda, the intricately decorated Slovenský dom and the rich wine tradition make Skalica one of the most enjoyable towns to visit in Slovakia.

Welcome to western Slovakia.

- Chris Togneri

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

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