A version of this article appeared in SS2001. Some changes to the text or photographs may have been made. More than half the content of Spectacular Slovakia is new every year.

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.

Bardejovské Kúpele

Royal spa

A strange bunch, inbred and subsequently sometimes mad, the Habsburgs were choosy when deciding their holidays and retreat destinations. The sea was always a good getaway, as were the spas.

But only the best spas were good enough for central Europe’s most famous dynasty. Which is why Bardejovské Kúpele, just six kilometres outside the medieval gem of Bardejov, can rightly claim to be one of the best in not just Slovakia, but the whole of central Europe.

Frequented by the great and the good of the Habsburg monarchy and at least one Russian Tsar, the resort still hints at its glorious imperial past with statues and reminders of the visiting royalty. The Hotel Astoria, one of the three hotels at the resort, has a facade that looks more than just a little Viennese.

These days, though, it’s the Slovaks, Poles and Hungarians that make up the bulk of the visitors. And while many of the buildings are reserved for those in need of medical treatment, the ordinary visitor has a chance to sample the beauty of the grounds, some of its hotels and cafés, to swim in the pleasant outdoor pool and visit the skanzen, an open-air folk-architecture museum. Next to the spa’s four tennis courts - on which you can see overweight, heavily-bandaged and occasionally smoking patients working themselves up to their next beer and fried cheese - is the skanzen.

Housing 30 buildings brought from the surrounding Šariš region and dating back to the 18th century, the museum gives visitors an opportunity to take a look at how village life was until 50 years ago. On each building, two of which are wooden churches, along with belfries, granaries and stables, is a plaque giving a description and history of not just the building, but the village it came from. However, not all are in English. Entry to the museum costs 30 crowns, with an extra charge for a camera.

The resort also boasts a colonnade, one of the ugliest reminders of Communist architecture. A walk through allows the visitor to try, free of charge, some of the different healing waters, many named after Habsburg monarchs.

Running from behind the colonnade and up past the skanzen is a trail that leads to hiking routes through surrounding forests. The Habsburgs may not have gone in for that much hiking, but a walk out of the same forest brings you to the 900 m Magura mountain, and a breathtaking view of north-eastern Slovakia.

By Ed Holt

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

See also:

Make your comment to the article...