Slovaks sometimes say, the largest darkness is under the lamp. And really, my country is like that lamp...an unknown place that's right in the center of Europe. We understand, that a lot of people from all over the world don't know too much about our history. The Slovak republic is quite a young country, established on January 1, 1993. Before that, we were part of Czechoslovakia and the Austro-Hungarian empire.
The relief of the country, as you may have noticed on the pictures, is quite hilly. Large parts of the country consists of hills and mountains. The largest mountains, the sacred mountains of Slovaks, are the High Tatras.
There are 9 national parks all over the country. Each one is different and has lots to offer: rafting the river Dunajec in Pieniny national park surrounded by high limestone cliffs, climbing the ladders along waterfalls in Slovak Paradise National Park or watching the night sky in the Poloniny Dark-Sky Park, which is the 20th dark sky park in the world. You'll also see many beautiful wooden churches all through Slovakia.
Slovakia's history is partly unknown, but very deep and interesting. And you can recognize it in the shape of the country. If there is something typical about my country, think castles. There are hundreds of them all over the country. Many of them are in ruins, which allows you to feel the magical atmosphere of the place. But a lot of them were saved and their majesty is evident today. Some of them are also written in the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Ancient castles are also tied to historical towns with charming squares, where I'll point out interesting architecture. The town square of Bardejov or Banská Štiavnica are two that you should visit, and both are written in UNESCO as well.
In almost every historical town you can visit historical gothic cathedrals.That's because Slovakia has more than a thousand years of Christian history.
Another interesting thing worth seeing is the traditional folklore architecture - the peasant wooden houses. There are many villages and open-air museums, usually located in gorgeous, natural areas, where we share the original way of living. These houses remain for you to see and are preserved for our children and generations to follow. The most famous village is Vlkolínec which was written in UNESCO in 1993.
But if you prefer a more action type of vacation, and if you like to move and push against your limitations, there are many, many things that I can offer that are exciting and fun activities.
First, I have to mention hiking. In Slovakia, the hiking routes are clearly marked. That's what makes our orientation in the woods and the observation of nature so much easier. There are more than 15 000 kilometers of marked routes, so you just need to take your first step, which is usually the most difficult one, but in the end it's always worth it!
Do you like rafting? No problem, there are many rivers which are being rafted. This tradition has also roots in our history. In the past the rivers served as "highways". Rivermen were transporting the goods on rafts made of tied timbers to the Black or Baltic sea.
Or do you prefer cycling? Also no problem. This sport is very popular in our country, because three-times world champion Peter Sagan is from Žilina, northern Slovakia.
And I'll share with you lots of information about Slovakia...such as what we consider to be our country's golden underground treasure.
Did you know that Slovakia is also located very strategically? It's very close to other beautiful places that you may want to visit...such as...Wien, Prague, Budapest, and Kraków. All of these cities are usually no more than two hours from here. So when you are planning your trip we can visit more than one country.
So, come with me. I'm inviting you to explore Slovakia, the hidden treasure right in the middle of Europe!