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.


Enticing day-trip

 photo: Ján Svrček

An unassuming little village with fewer than 2,400 residents, Zborov would seem to be nothing more than a pit-stop on the road from Bardejov to Svidník. Surprisingly enough, though, there are two sites in Zborov that make it an enticing day-trip.

The first site is a military cemetery on the village outskirts honouring German soldiers slain in World War II. Slovakia is peppered with monuments to Russian and Czechoslovak soldiers, but this was the first memorial of any kind I’d seen in memory of the Nazis. (On later travels, I found a similar cemetery outside Svidník; there is also a German monument in the Humenné cemetery.)

The second site is the Zborov castle ruin, set off on a hill south of the village. Getting to the ruin can be a confusing affair. While walking towards the castle from the main bus-stop, visitors come to a fork. To the left is a road that appears to lead straight to the castle. To the right - the main highway back to Bardejov - is a red trail sign marker. Ignore the sign and instead head straight through the village. It appears that the locals want to send hikers on a roundabout loop to the castle because the main road passes an unsightly Roma ghetto on the river (which is visible from the ruin anyway).

Another warning: while hiking up, you may encounter a filthy, nearly impassable route to the top. On my visit, the 20-minute walk involved trudging through a boggy swamp laden with trash, then slipping up the muddy ascent under the forest canopy until reaching the summit, where there were large plastic boxes and even more trash strewn about. Hardly a pleasant site.

But the scene improves dramatically once you duck under the crumbling archway marking the entrance. The outer wall, nearly all of which is still standing, surrounds a lofty crumbling tower edifice. And although it was first erected in the 14th century, the ruin is still largely intact. So much so, in fact, that it is easy to imagine how the castle must have looked in the 16th century when it was the northernmost Hungarian Kingdom fortification along the Polish border.

- Chris Togneri

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

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