The East/Central European nation of Slovakia has an incredible, storied history, spanning centuries. With that in mind, it’s understandable that Slovaks are proud of their country’s national landmarks, monuments, and museums and like to show them off to visitors! Slovakia hosts a cornucopia of fascinating, beautiful, and culturally significant sites, with everything from landmarks dating back to the middle ages, to modern marvels that show Slovakia’s unique chic.
There are many landmarks in Slovakia that have been around for centuries, many of these being fantastic old castles that really demonstrate Slovakia’s strategic significance in European history.
One of the most famous is the ancient Bratislava Castle, first founded back in the 10th century by Saints Cyril and Methodius. Another castle among the most famous landmarks in Slovakia is Spiš Castle, which was built during the 12th century, a shining example of medieval Slovakian architecture at its finest.
Another castle worth mentioning is Devin Castle near Bratislava, which dates back to the 13th century, regarded by architectural and military historians as one of the most vital castles in the region.
Most Famous Historical Landmarks in Slovakia
1. Bratislava Castle
As mentioned above, Slovakia is home to some incredible old fortresses. The many Castles in Slovakia are sights to admire and among the best places to learn more about this fascinating country. Bratislava Castle is easily one of the most magnificent Slovakian castles to explore, which is why it tops our list!
The castle, a magnificent rectangular structure with four large turrets at its corners, lies on an isolated steep hillside of the Little Carpathians, commanding views over the Danube river.
The castle is an age-old symbol of the city of Bratislava, Slovakia’s capital city, and has seen (at least) eleven kings and eight queens’ coronations, and their courts reside here. The place had particular strategic geographical importance in the period of the Empire of Moravian.
Its stark beauty and fascinating history make the castle a popular stop on sightseeing tours of the city. It is perched in a splendid location at an important intersection of historic routes. A strategically vital spot since ancient times, the first evidence of settlement on this hill date back to the Stone Age.
Aside from the beauty and grandeur of the castle’s exterior aesthetic, it offers exhibitions across its sizable complex. The castle houses exhibitions from the Slovak National Museum, notably featuring the Great-Moravian Basilica’s reconstructed remains.
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2. Spiš Castle
From a beautifully preserved castle, we now go to one in ruins, albeit the ruins of one of the largest castles in Europe. The Spiš Castle is in eastern Slovakia. Although a shadow of its former self, this ruined old fortress is still an imposing sight.
The ruins can be found near the town of Spišské Podhradie, and the village of Žehra in the Slovakian region of Spiš.
Due to its magnificence and historical significance, the ruin was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1993.
Once a national cultural monument and as a significant political, economic, and cultural center of the region of the Hungarian Empire, the fort was constructed atop a travertine hill at the beginning of the 12th century. As the castle is perched atop a travertine hill, it provides visitors with a breathtaking view of the region.
Largely destroyed by a fire in 1780, rendering it uninhabitable, the castle began to see restoration efforts after the Second World War, as well as increasing numbers of archeological parties, uncovering relics from the castle’s heyday. The palace highlights several reconstructed rooms and chambers to explore.
You might already recognize this place as the castle is featured in several movies such as Kull the Conqueror, Dragonheart, and The Last Legion.
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3. Slovak Paradise National Park
The Slovak Paradise National Park is a hidden treasure that every first-time visitor to Slovakia should explore. It is one of Slovakia’s most beautiful national parks, and it is among the country’s most visited national landmarks.
The park is part of the Slovenské Rudohorie Mountains (Slovak Paradise Mountains), which run along the Czech border in northern Slovakia, in the northeast corner of the range.
Slovak Paradise National Park has an area of 300 km of marked trails stretching through this enchanting paradise, and nature lovers flock to this place for good reason. The national park is true to its name; it is truly a verdant paradise, straight out of an adventure novel or Disney movie.
It is the ideal green space to enjoy an array of exciting and thrilling outdoor activities, such as climbing through its rocky gorges, skirting around cliff faces above rivers, and reaching the highest rocky outcrops to stare at beautiful scenery for miles. Some of these treks and hikes aren’t for the faint of heart!
In addition to more active excursions, it’s also a great place to take relaxing walks among grand scenery or enjoy the most sightly picnic you’ll ever munch on.
The park features vast forests, rocky canyons, rolling meadows, interesting rock formations, waterfalls of all shapes and sizes, mind-blowing views for DAYS, and an estimated 350 underground caves.
I’d love to go on, but this list of landmarks won’t write itself, so I’ll clue you in real quick; Among the most beautiful spots, are Dobšinská Ice Cave, Suchá Belá Gorge, and Prielom Hornádu Canyon.
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4. Michael’s Gate
Located in the Slovakian capital Bratislava, the gate is ideally situated in a spot near many of the city’s fine dining and retail establishments that make the for anyone interested in Slovakian cuisine or a spot of retail therapy.
Once part of the city’s defensive walls, Michael’s Gate is now home to a museum on the old town defenses and a number of top-shelf retailers such as Christian Dior and Swarovski.
Once you’re done shopping you can enjoy some fine al fresco dining at Zrzky Wine & Tapas. If you’re really looking to hit the town, grab a beverage and a bite at the Goblin Pub, a source of unforgettable nights out, with frequent live music and comedy events.
With its top shops, bars, and restaurants, uncovering the beauty and history of Michael’s Gate is a great day out if you’re in need of a break from your Slovakian adventures, or looking to start one!
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5. Trenčín Castle
This majestic castle, looming over the charming town of Trenčín in western Slovakia is an absolute must-see attraction that should be included in your itinerary. The castle is protected as a National Cultural Monument of Slovakia and sees tens of thousands of visitors each year.
The spectacular Trenčín Castle, the unmissable face of the city of Trenčín characterizes the entire region of Povaie, distinguishable for miles around from its enormous, imposing keep in the center of the castle, known as the Máté Tower. It is among the most significant and largest Slovak castles in Central Europe alongside Devín Castle and Spiš Castle.
Originally a Roman army encampment on the edges of the town of Laugarito (the Roman name for Trenčín), the site saw significant development in the 11th Century, when a residential tower and dome were built, the remnants of which may be seen in the castle’s upper courtyard. More additions were made in the 13th Century when the castle was made a more permanent fortress.
More expansions were added in the 14th and 16th Centuries, due to the castle’s ongoing significance as a seat of power in a region vital to several nations’ economies.
The castle would serve as the primary fortress and camp that protected trade routes connecting the regions of Northern Ugria and coal mines in Central Slovakia with Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia.
Today, it is home to the Trenčín Museum, where visitors can learn about the history of Trenčín and the namesake castle. There are several excellent exhibits featuring old furniture, small arms, paintings, and archaeological relics.
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6. Bojnice Castle (Castle of Spirits)
Bojnice Castle, also known as the Castle of Spirits, is among the most visited and notable castles in the historical town of Bojnice, 167 kilometers northeast of Bratislava.
The exterior of this high-spired, spellbinding castle is utterly remarkable, and its interior is just as spectacular. Little wonder it is frequently used shooting location for fairy-tale and fantasy films.
The castle includes well-maintained chambers that can be toured, and fantastic exhibits showcasing all sorts of medieval tools of arsenal, including swords, armor, halberds, and maces. Other highlights include the enormous ceramics collection and beautiful hand-painted Turkish tiles.
A wonderful museum of art and local history is housed within the castle’s château. This exhibition includes authentic furniture, numerous artifacts, and artworks, such as the late gothic collection Bojnice Altar from the 14th century and many more hidden mysteries.
A tour of the castle includes a trip to the beautiful stalactite cave beneath the castle connected to the castle wall, which is 26 meters deep. Another attraction of this fairy-tale castle is the castle park, which is home to the Bojnice Zoo, Slovakia’s oldest zoo. The castle park also leads onto a forest park in the nearby Strážov Mountains, which is great for keen hikers.
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7. Starý Zámok (Old Castle)
Another beautiful medieval castle in Slovakia can be found in Banská Stiavnica. Known as Starý Zámok (literally, Old Castle) this 15th Century castle complex was built as a defensive bastion against the Ottoman Empire.
The Old Castle complex is located in the heart of Banská Stiavnica, just above Trinity Square, and comprises many buildings. Several fascinating festivals and theater events take place on the premises of the castle.
When visiting Banská Stiavnica, you should make sure to pay a visit to the Old Castle. The castle is an ideal location to witness reenactments of royal life, which may be seen throughout the halls and extensive grounds.
This compact old fortress is now home to the Museum of National History and the Slovak Mining Museum. Highlights of the castle’s exhibits include brilliant displays of lances and cannonballs and baroque statues from the 16th century.
Guided group excursions and self-directed tours are both available for viewing the castle. They are a great way to learn about the region’s history, particularly the local mining industry.
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8. St. Martin’s Cathedral
One of many amazing sites in Slovakia is St. Martin’s Cathedral, which is a must-see, located in Bratislava. This medieval church still serves as the cathedral for Bratislava’s Roman Catholic Archdiocese.
First built in the 13th century, it is located at the western edge of the old city center, below Bratislava Castle. The church is one of the city’s three-nave Churches and cathedrals.
It was built on the site of a previous Romanesque church dedicated to the Holy Saviour, which was demolished in the 19th Century and replaced by the current structure.
This magnificent cathedral served as the coronation church for Hungarian monarchs and their spouses for over 250 years from 1563 and 1830.
In the 18th Century, the Baroque Chapel of St. John the Merciful, (now a mausoleum) was added, along with an updated altar, and a sculpture of St. Martin himself on horseback decked out in full Hussar fig, in the action of slicing his cloak in two and offering half to a naked beggar. All of these additions were of great expense and designed by famous Austrian sculptor Georg Rafael Donner.
One of the most popular attractions of St. Martin’s Cathedral is the 150-kg gold-plated replica of the Crown of St. Stephen (also known as the Holy Crown of Hungary), which is displayed at the top of the cathedral’s 85-meter neo-Gothic tower constructed in the late 15th century. This enormous replica, along with the huge gold-plated pillow it rests upon, is nearly 4ft wide and 5.5ft in height – certainly too big for most heads!
This replica was added in the 19th Century in recognition of the Cathedral’s role in coronating Hungarian royalty. Ten Habsburg kings, one queen, and seven royal wives were crowned in St. Martin’s Cathedral during the reign of the Habsburg Dynasty alone.
The cathedral also contains some of the world’s earliest major works of Central European lead sculptures, dating back to the 13th century.
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9. Hrad Devín
For those only in Bratislava for a day or a weekend, a trip to the ruins of Hrad Devín, (also known as the Devin Castle), is an essential activity. This striking ruin perched on a large sandstone outcrop has always maintained an important role in Slovak history.
The castle is divided into two fascinating sections. The first section located at the site of the original castle features a fantastic museum that requires a ticket to visit.
The second portion is a public walkway along the river’s edge that provides a tranquil stroll whilst letting you gaze at the great walls towering over the mighty sandstone bluffs. Built with defense as a priority, every nook of the massive castle grounds has a distinctive vantage point over the surrounding area.
The center portion of the complex, flanked by the Morava and Danube rivers, is almost panoramic in scope. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to climb to the topmost terrace in the building, or get some snaps of the haunting Maiden Tower, where the two rivers meet!
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10. Primaciálny Palác (Primate’s Palace or Primatial Palace)
The Bratislava Primate’s Palace is one of Slovakia’s most beautiful classicist buildings, located in the capital city of Bratislava. The palace was built between 1778 to 1781 and designed by architect Melchior Hefele for Archbishop József Batthyány. Today it is the seat of the Mayor of Bratislava and is one of Slovakia’s historical and architectural gems.
Hungarian kings throughout history that have been immortalized on canvas and in wonderful tapestries have their likenesses on display in the palace’s extensive gallery. Special attention is paid to a rare collection of six English tapestries from the 17th century.
Another point of interest is the Fountain of St. George and the Dragon, depicting the mythical knight defeating the dragon and slaying the beast with his lance. Among the palace’s other claims to fame, it is where Napoleon signed the peace pact dubbed ‘The Fourth Peace of Pressburg’ in 1805.
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11. Nitra Castle
Slovakia is a land of stunning landscapes and spectacular castles, which may be found in abundance.
The Nitra Castle is one of these fortifications, surrounded by natural beauty. It was constructed in the 11th century on the ruins of a once magnificent Slav fort in the Old Town of Nitra.
The castle’s own striking beauty is enhanced by some of Mother Nature’s finest work, consisting of green meadow, rolling hills, and cloud blanketed mountains.
If you hadn’t gathered already, this is an incredibly picturesque destination to visit when on vacation in Slovakia and a must for shutterbugs looking for the perfect postcard.
The castle’s heart is St. Emmeram’s Cathedral, which also houses a Bishop’s dwelling.
It is composed of multiple distinct components. The oldest remaining section is the 11th-century Romanesque Church of St. Emmeram. The cathedral’s remaining two sections are the 14th-century Gothic Upper Church and the 17th-century Lower Church.
The castle of Nitra is considered to be one of the most magnificent historical sites in the entire country. The castle offers several tours around the complex, focusing on the castle’s history, and the culture of the city.
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12. Hviezdoslav Square
The lively Hviezdoslav Square in Bratislava, Slovakia’s beautiful historic capital, is nestled between the Old Bridge and the Slovak National Theater.
It was originally named for the ancient renowned poet Pavol Országh Hviezdoslav, who lived from 1002 to 1030 AD. The square is a public space perfect for sightseeing and relaxing, and it is also a popular meeting place in the city.
Upon visiting the Hviezdoslav Square, you’ll most likely be welcomed by music, for it is close to an open-air music theater, the Slovak Philharmonic, and the old Opera House, which are the town’s prime music venues.
Hviezdoslav Square is near several restaurants and high-end shops where you can stop before or after enjoying a tour of the square. Festive Christmas markets cover the square the landmark during December, making this an unforgettable winter holiday destination.
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13. Banská Štiavnica Calvary
The Banská Štiavnica Calvary is among the most stunning historical landmarks in Slovakia. It is a baroque-style calvary monument perched on the hill of Scharfenberg. Due to its location, it is a fascinating sight to see from afar and a great location to admire the surroundings from. Don’t forget your camera!
The beauty of this historical landmark and its history should not be missed. Banská Štiavnica Calvary is among the landmarks in the region that gets the most visitors.
Banská Štiavnica Calvary is home to various exhibits from one of its churches and provides an engaging tour of the region’s past.
The calvary is a gem that the town of Banská Štiavnica owns and preserves. For its unique beauty and historical significance, it was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1996.
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14. Banská Bystrica Plaza/Slovak National Uprising Square (SNP Square)
Banská Bystrica is a lovely town in Slovakia. If you are searching for a beautiful place to unwind in town, Banská Bystrica Plaza is a wonderful location to visit in the heart of the city.
Now known as The Slovak National Uprising Square, (commonly abbreviated as SNP Square), is one of Slovakia’s most significant historical sites, renamed relatively recently after the National Uprising of 1944.
Picturesque establishments, restaurants, and shops surround the square. Slovak National Uprising Square is a popular meeting spot in town as well as a space to enjoy delightful afternoon walks.
The square is also a wonderful place to relax and spend quality time with family or friends. For more than 600 years, it has served as the center of the city’s activity, recreation, and a renowned residence.
There are many great things to do in the square, including checking out its retailers, taking photographs, enjoying a walk and nearby tourist attractions, as well as basking in the pleasant, colorful, and enchanting ambiance of this picturesque town.
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15. Orava Castle
One fine castle standing over the lands of Oravský Podzámok, is Orava Castle; a magnificent old castle perched on a high rock 112 meters above the Orava river. Orava Castle is an ideal destination for those who seek a scenic and historical adventure in Slovakia.
The fortress was constructed in the 13th Century while the region was under the reign of the Kingdom of Hungary. The castle is among the most remarkable landmarks in town. A blend of both beautiful and ominous, it is famous for its appearance in the classic 1922 vampire film Nosferatu.
The castle is perched over the river and the town, offering a spectacular overlooking view of Oravský Podzámok. The castle’s ownership changed hands many times over its long existence, and it has seen decades of damage, and reconstruction.
The worst damage was by fire in 1800, which largely gutted the castle, causing it to fall into disuse. The castle would undergo huge restoration efforts, finally being opened to the public in 1868, housing the Orava Museum, one of Slovakia’s oldest museums still in operation.
The castle is also a wonderful sight to behold from afar. The museum is home to various historical exhibitions within the complex, from its furnished rooms and chambers to massive halls, courtyards, and impressive arsenal.
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16. Old Town Hall
The Old Town Hall is in the capital of Slovakia, Bratislava, and is a magnificent historical monument. It is a set of 14th-century structures in Old Town, Bratislava. The tower, which was built in 1370, is Slovakia’s oldest city hall and one of Bratislava’s earliest stone structures.
Once the old Romanesque residence of Mayor Jakub, the tower passed into the possession of the city. Over time, Unger’s House and Pawer’s House were attached to it, making it a complete compound.
After undergoing multiple modifications, the structure now exhibits aspects of the Renaissance, Baroque, and Neo-Renaissance architectural styles.
Old Town Hall houses a variety of fascinating things to discover, including the old city hall, Bratislava City Museum, and municipal court. The museum within the town hall exhibits various historical pieces and displays such as ancient weapons, dungeons, paintings, and more.
Old Town Hall is a great place to start or end a day out in Bratislava, as it is close to some of the town’s top attractions.
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17. Castle Lietava
The extensive ruins of Lietava Castle are among the most spectacular attractions and landmarks to see in Lietava, Slovakia. Lietava Castle is remarkable a sight to behold and a destination not to miss when planning to travel to the historic town of Lietava.
The ruined castle looks over the northern part of Slovakia in the Súľov Mountains. This beautiful ruin can be seen between the district of Zilina’s Lietavská Svinná-Babkov and the town of Lietava.
It is situated 664 meters above sea level, and it is considered the second-largest set of ruins in the country, its origins traceable back to the late 13th Century.
The old four-story tower was believed to be constructed by members of the Balas bloodline. This tower was then extended throughout the years into a gigantic, three-tiered fortification.
As a result of its abandonment sometime around the middle of the eighteenth century, the castle has become a remarkably untouched ruin and become the region’s most well-known historic symbol and landmark.
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18. Dobšinská Ice Cave
Dobšiná Ice Cave is a fascinating tourist attraction that lies close to Slovak Paradise National Park. The cave is a spectacular tourist spot not to be overlooked when visiting Slovakia. It has been recognized as a part of the Caves of Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst. Deservedly it was added to the World Heritage Site list in 2000 by UNESCO.
The overall ice volume has been estimated to be 125,000 cubic meters, making it one of the most significant ice caves on Earth. It is calculated that the ice could be up to 26.5 meters thick at its thickest point.
It is believed that the cave has been in existence for roughly 250,000 years. The ice cave covers a total distance of 1,491 meters. Dobšiná Ice Cave is open to the public from May to September. The ambiance inside the cave is amazing. Key features include frozen stalagmites, resembling flawless marble, seemingly erupting from the ground, in chambers shimmering with draping threads of frost.
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19. St. Elisabeth’s Cathedral
The Cathedral of St. Elisabeth is a wonderful place to see in the picturesque city of Košice. This Gothic cathedral is considered Slovakia’s largest church. The presence of Kassa is noted in a document dating back to 1230, which is linked to the history of the rectory cathedral.
It’s believed that the cathedral was constructed so that if one measured its circumference with a tape measure and then stretched it, the length of the church would equal the perimeter of the defense wall that surrounded the entire city block.
As soon as you enter St. Elisabeth Cathedral, you will understand the significance of the cathedral’s patron saint. The captivating Altar of St. Elisabeth is housed in the cathedral.
The church also boasts a unique Gothic double spiral stairway – one of only five of its kind in all of Europe. Among the cathedral’s highlights is the crypt of Francis II Rákóczi, the leader of the largest anti-Habsburg rebellion in the former Kingdom of Hungary from 1477.
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20. Museum Slovenského Národného Povstania (SNP Museum)
The Slovak National Uprising (SNP) Museum is an architecturally unique building built in 1969 as the Memorial of the Slovak National Uprising of 1944. The building is situated on the southwestern edge of the historic center of Banská Bystrica.
The museum specializes in recording the development of Slovak society during the years 1938 to 1945 when the country was occupied by Nazi Germany.
It is situated in the heart of a park that contains an open museum displaying the weapons and equipment used in the uprising. The museum’s structure is separated into two sections and connected by a bridge.
Other great displays include a transport plane that delivered supplies to fighters at the Tri Duby airfield in Slia. You can find it near the park’s entryway.
Much of the museum’s exhibitions and collections are devoted to the anti-fascist struggle for liberation and the Slovak National Uprising, chiefly emphasizing the latter.