Slovakia's cities and towns are neatly distributed throughout the country, throughout several recognizable regions.
Bratislava in the southwest and Kosice in the east "bookend" most of the other towns. Apart from these two mid-sized metropolitan areas, all of Slovakia consists of a wide scattering of population centres of no more than 100,000, each with its own high-points of history, culture and recreation.
This more or less even distribution of towns means that you’re never more than from basic travel infrastructure of reliable hotels and restaurants, and stores and petrol stations operated by western European multinationals. About two-thirds of the country’s 5.5 million live in towns and villages of under 50,000 - but you’ll find trustworthy services from recognized providers even in the small towns.
Slovakia's capital city is at last coming to life. Tourists are coming to love the freshly restored old town, now almost entirely closed to cars. Business of all kinds is booming in one of the European Union's most rapidly-expanding capitals. The population of some half-million inhabitants is quickly adapting to its new role in the expanded Europe. And Vienna is an easy hour’s travel away.
This metropolis of Eastern Slovakia is a regional administrative centre and hub of industry (especially related to US Steel’s giant plant), commerce, science and culture. The country's second largest city, Kosice curently has a population of more than 250,000 inhabitants. Several distinct ethnic groups enrich the city with their cultural activities.
The quiet spa resort town of Piestany was founded in the picturesque valley of the Vah River. The spa is renowned for successful treatment of arthritis. Many treatment methods are based on the extraordinary therapeutic effects of the area's thermal springs and curative mud. Piestany boasts beautiful parks and recreational areas.
Trencin SlovakiaTrencin's skyline is perhaps Slovakia's most striking, created by a picturesque castle above a quaint town square. Encircled by forests and valleys, it is also quite close to the historic, and still functioning, spa town of Trencianske Teplice.
This town is living heritage of the former fabulous riches of central Slovakia's mining culture. The gorgeous architecture on the main square dates from the late middle ages and early renaissance, and was financed by vast mining profits that then dominated its economy. More recently, the Slovak National Uprising (or "SNP" after its abbreviation in Slovak) against the Nazi occupation during World War II defines its history, with Slovakia's largest museum on this subject located here.
A half hour from Bratislava, is a small city with a long history as a trading crossroads. Its most notable historic sites are its many churches and its length of intact city wall. It is also now shaping up to be a significant international industrial center, with a large Sony plant in place for almost a decade, Johns-Mansville active for several years, and Peugeot scheduled to initiate in 2005-2006. Many smaller concerns, international and domestic, also manufacture in the area.
Nitra SlovakiaSlovakia's oldest intact historical remnants, especially as related to the establishment of Christianity, are to be found in this regional centre in western Slovakia. Today it is probably the country's most important focal point for agricultural activity, with a university and an exhibition site founded for its advancement.
This, Slovakia's third largest city, has the character of a small regional centre. Its reformation history is abundant, and it was in that period a focus of anti-empire sentiment. Materially, Presov's richest age was also this time of early renaissance, with its still visible renaissance wealth coming from nearby opal mines, which have been closed long ago, and salt mines, which continue to output plentifully.
Recipient of UNESCO's Gold Medal for Monument Preservation, Bardejov's square and city walls powerfully evoke to this day the high middle ages. Developed by Germans at the king's invitation in the 13th century, it became a focal point for craftsmen and early industry. The attractive spa town of Bardejovske Kupele lies in a nearby valley.
A UNESCO Cultural Heritage site, this town gained recognition because the buildings of its historical core are almost all still recognizable as centuries old. Surrounded by the scenic hills of central Slovakia, the wealth that once made the town great came primarily from the silver mines in the vicinity.
The most significant regional city in northwestern Slovakia. Its arcaded square is unique in architecture. The city is also a significant centre of native Slovak craft and culture. As is the case with several other mid-size Slovak cities, Zilina is also becoming an increasingly important centre of international manufacturing. By 2005, Korean automaker Kia should be operational, and satellite plants of suppliers will also be moving in.
Town's identity is closely tied to the High Tatras mountains, with its excellent train, air and road connections into the Tatras National Park. However, its history as a 13th-century German colony has left its mark on the town's architecture, most visible in the significant gothic church on the main square.
Komarno SlovakiaWith its strategic position on the Danube, Komarno has a rich military history. Existing evidence of this is an intact and extensive earthen fortification built to fend of Napoleon's armies - you can walk much of their lengthy circumference, and in several places climb the mounds and even peek inside. An attractive town square is also worth seeing. Komarno is distinctive for being one of the largest cities in Slovakia where people of Hungarian background predominate. Its bridge makes for a gateway into Hungary.
Martin is a gateway to much of north-central Slovakia, whether the end destination is skiing or other outdoor recreation, folk festivals or the smaller spas in its region. It is also home to one of Slovakia's three medical schools.
Liptovsky Mikulas serves as a good base for various recreational activities, including swimming in mineral baths, a traditional Slovak folk festival, outings to the Low Tatras, and of course skiing. A mid-sized outdoor water park, opened in 2003, draws tourists from several countries.
Michalovce is a regional eastern Slovak centre, scenically dominated by two forested hills. The nearby ample reservoir lake of Zemplinska sirava draws crowds of holiday-makers from the whole region.
Nove Zamky lies on the edge between areas in which Slovak and Hungarian cultures dominate. Its origin was as a fortress town furing the high renaissance, in spite of which it fell to and was held by the occupying Turks for 22 years in the late 1600s. Today it is a regional centre of agriculture, criss-crossed by many rivers and streams, some of which have mineral or artesian water springs.
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