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Itinerary of a visit to Bratislava or Slovakia

I will try to introduce you a country lying in the very centre of Europe, literally in its heart. There is no sea but there is a beautiful nature. The destiny of the country and people living there was influenced by its beauty and underground riches as well as by location of the country itself.
Slovak territory used to be a crossroad of important ways leading from east to west and from south to north of Europe. The boundary between western and eastern culture was the reason of mutual cultural change as well as often war conflicts.
The Slovak Republic is a country the state sovereigny of which was re-established on January 1, 1993. On that day Czechoslovakia was split into two countries and the independent Slovak Republic came into being.

Slovakia, while only small in size, is richly endowed with tourist attractions. In its terrain and in the variety of its tourist attractions, Slovakia is similar to Switzerland and Austria.
Slovakia is characterised by large and interesting national parks, beautiful caves and ancient town represent.

We have more than 4200 caves registered in Slovakia, 12 caves, which are open to the public. Slovakia is unusual in that it can boast of three different kinds of caves – stalagtites, icicles and aragonite. What make the aragonite cave so unique is that it is one of only three in the world. Two Slovak karst cave systems – Slovenský kras – Agtelekský kras and Dobšinská ice cave, which is one of the biggest and most beautiful ones in Europe, are listed in UNESCO the World Nature Heritage. The Dobšinská ice cave was enlightened as the first one in Europe in 1882. To visit the ice kingdom is an unforgettable experience for children as well as for adults.

In Slovakia there are five national parks. Every national park is beautiful and worth seeing. We have Tatra national park, Pieniny , Nízke Tatry, Slovak paradise and Malá Fatra.
The High Tatras are the only truly alpine mountains in Eastern Europe and one of the smallest high mountain ranges in the world. The name of the highest peak is Gerlachovský štít, 2655 m.

We have also a great number of lakes and other places that are suitable for water sports. The water was a very important source of energy in the past. At present there are many artificial lakes such as Liptovská Mara, Oravská dam, Zemplínska Šírava, Domaša, Gabčíkovo dam and others used for electric energy production, drinking water providing and of course recreation and relaxing. These are our Slovak “seas” rich in fish, with good water and in lovely locations.

Slovakia has a number of internationally known spa towns, whose curative mineral water is used in the treatment of illnesses of the motive system, digestive tracts and for post-operation recuperation. The best-known of these spas are in Piešťany, Trenčianske Teplice, Dudince and Bardejov. There are also a number of towns in the High Tatras whose climate is ideal for the treatment of respiratory tracts.

Piešťany are known for medicinal mud used as a wrapping of sore extremities. The termal water has 69° Celsius. They were known in 12th century, but the first note is from 1545. At the entrance of spa there is a sculpture presenting the man breaking his crutch.
Trenčianske Teplice is the oldest and most known spa town from the 14th century in West Slovakia. It considered to be the most important in Hungary kingdom in 16th century. Exeptionally valuable building is the spa house Hamman, built in years 1888-1890 in the style of Oriental buildings. In the spa park there is the known Spa courtier where festivals of classical music “Music Summer” is annually organized.

Very unusual thermal pool is in Sklené Teplice. It is a cave where thermal mineral water is inhaled.
The highest mineral spas are in Korytnica in Low Tatras, 825 m high. There is the coldest water with the temperature of 5,4° Celsius only.
I will finish the part about Slovak mineral water by one European rarity. It is Herliansky geyser, the only cold geyser in Europe. The corruption is 10-15 meters, repeating every 32-34 hours and lasting 25 minutes. About 6000 liters of drinking mineral water come out by one eruption.
The town Bardejov is listed in UNESCO the World Heritage List. It is old rich trade town that belonged to the biggest ones in Slovakia territory in the 15th century. Besides historical buildings such as St. Egidium gothic church from 1448, renaissance town hall and many others there are spa with thermal water. In spa area there is natural museum of folk architecture situated.

Slovakia`s traditional folk architecture and everyday life and customs can be seen in a series of museums (skanzens) located in individual regions. The skanzens in Javorníky near Martin, in Zverovka, and in Pribylina are very well preserved.

The many castles and chateaux in Slovakia underline just how long this region has been settled and how important its geographical position has always been. The most interesting castles are the castles in Devín, Bratislava, Spišský hrad and Zvolenský hrad.
Spišský hrad is the largest castle in Slovakia. It was founded in 1209, wrecked by the Tatars in the 13th century and reconstructed in the 15th century. Although the castle burnt down in 1780, the ruins and the site are spectacular.

Among the rare buildings that Slovakia has are its characteristic priceless wooden churches and chapels. The architecture of these wooden Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical churches blends naturally into the character of the countryside. Some of them were built without any metal joints.
When one looks at the map of Europe, Slovakia`s advantageous position is clear at first glance. It is a natural crossroads leading from West to East and from North to South. Slovakia is readily accessible, and the West European motorway system streches from Austria to Bratislava. The motorway link between Bratislava and Prague is also valuable. Bratislava, Vienna and Budapest are suitable points of entry by plane. Slovakia`s position makes it an ideal destination in an itinerary that includes its neighbours, and a visit to Slovakia can thus become an execellent way of getting to known the whole region of Central Europe.

Bratislava, the capital of the Slovak Republic stands on the edge of the foothills of the Small Carpathians and the Danubian and Záhorie Plains. It has a population of half a million people. It lies in the middle of Europe on both banks of the river Danube. It borders on Hungary in the south and on Austria in the west. At present it has all the attributes of a modern city. Bratislava is the seat of the President, Government, and diplomatic corps. It is important for its political, economic, cultural, humanitarian and social organizations.
The city called Pressburg, Pozsony or Prespork in the past was affiliated to Czechoslovakia in January 1919. It has been the capital of independent Slovak Republic since 1st January 1993.

Bratislava has a rich history. This cliff overlooking the Danube has long been a major European crossroad, and it has been successively by all the ethnic groups that have lived in the area since the Stone Age. The citadel of the Old Slavs on the hill where Bratislava Castle stands and on the headland above the confluence of the Morava and the Danube became the centre of the Great Moravian Empire. After the collapse of the Great Moravian Empire in the 10th century, the citadel in Bratislava was replaced by a royal castle, and Devin Castle became a border fortress for the newly emerged Hungarian state. In 1809 the Castle Devin was destroyed during the Napoleonic wars. After the renovation of the remains the castle is now a national cultural monument, open for public.
Bratislava Castle is the dominant feature of the city. The first written document about Bratislava is from 907 AD and it is connected with the Castle. After the reconstruction between 1953-1968 the castle became the ceremonial seat of the President and Slovak National Museum.
St. Martin`s Cathedral was built in Gothic style. 11 kings and 8 queens were crowned in this cathedral.
Academia Istropolitana was the first university on the territory of Slovakia, founded by the Hungarian king Mathias Corvinus in 1465.

Chemical, engineering, consumer, glass, food and electrical enterprises are all represented in Bratislava. It is also the country`s banking, insurance and finance center.

Thanks to unique architectural, historical, cultural and natural attractions, Bratislava is the city of art and tourism. There are many hotels here to serve the tourists. Restaurants besides offering Slovak specialities can cater to international palates with a fine choice of Italian, Asian, Balkan or Jewish cuisine.

A very strong enticement is historical Old Town with its lovely streets and well-known Korzo. The friendly city charm is closely connected with its cultural and artistic tradition as well as with some famous names such as Mozart, Haydn, Rubinstein, Liszt, Warchal, Dvorsky and many others.

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