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Komárno is the most Hungarian of Slovak cities

Held under siege by the Turks, home of an anti-Hapsburg rebellion, destroyed by a series of earthquakes in the late 18th century, and divided between two countries after World War I, Komárno, located approximately 100 kilometers southeast of Bratislava, has had a turbulent history politically, militarily and seismically. As the most Hungarian of Slovak towns, it often seems as though Hungarian is the only language heard on Komárno's street (though communicating in Slovak is no problem). These elements combine to make this small city of 32,000 people an interesting place to spend an afternoon, though not much longer.


Gen. Juraj Klapka, leader of Komárno's 1848 uprising, watches over his namesake square.
Jim Gladstone

Held under siege by the Turks, home of an anti-Hapsburg rebellion, destroyed by a series of earthquakes in the late 18th century, and divided between two countries after World War I, Komárno, located approximately 100 kilometers southeast of Bratislava, has had a turbulent history politically, militarily and seismically. As the most Hungarian of Slovak towns, it often seems as though Hungarian is the only language heard on Komárno's street (though communicating in Slovak is no problem). These elements combine to make this small city of 32,000 people an interesting place to spend an afternoon, though not much longer.

A good place to start is at the main square, Námestie Gen. Klapku. To get there from the bus and train stations, go south past the new Tržnica and look for the spires that will lead you to the square. The square has been well restored with the neo-classicist town hall as its centerpiece. In front of the town hall is a statue of General Juraj Klapka, who led Komárno's anti-Hapsburg uprising in 1848.

From the main square, head down Palatínová ulica to the Danube Museum in the old Palace of Culture (Poddunajksé Múzeum-Kultúrny Palác). For a 10 Sk entry fee, you will be treated to an excellent exhibit chronicling the history of the inhabitants of the area dating back to the Paleolithic age, though unfortunately the captions are only in Slovak and Hungarian. The most interesting exhibit is the collection of Turkish arms and armor. The museum also contains a collection of 18th and 19th century paintings, including one showing the damaged city after the 1763 earthquake.

From the museum, continue further down Palatínová ulica and across the main thoroughfare to the Serbian Orthodox Church. Go through the entry hall of the apartment building in front to gain access to the church, which was built in 1754 on the site of an older Gothic church by Serb immigrants fleeing the Turkish occupation of the Balkans. Inside you will find a collection of 26 icons dating from 1770 separating the worshippers from the altar section. The church still has services on the first Saturday of the month for the small community of Russians, Ukrainians, Bulgarians and Serbs. After leaving the church, go around to the other side to see the small graveyard with tombstones engraved in Cyrillic.

From there you might be tempted to walk down the Danube to see the anti-Turkish Fortress. The fortress, strategically located at the confluence of the Váh and the Danube, was built between 1546 and 1557 as a defense against the approaching Turkish armies. The walls, though, did not prevent the Turks from burning the town to the ground during their siege of 1594. Today the fortress is flanked by apartment blocks and the harbor and holds army barracks inside. The interior is under reconstruction and is closed to the public. As a result, the fortress will not be very interesting for anyone who has already seen a brick wall. Hopefully in the future it will be restored and opened to the public.

More interesting are the town fortifications and bastions constructed at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries during the Napoleonic wars, and which rivaled Bratislava's. Inside the beautifully restored Bastion Number 6 at the end of Ul. J. Szinnyeiho you will find the Roman Lapidary with its collection of tombs, sculptures, portraits and sarcophagi. The best way to get there is to take Okružná cesta around the edge of town, about a one mile walk.

So if you want to learn a little about the history of southern Slovakia, experience a little of the local Hungarian culture, and eat some great food, Komárno is a worthwhile place to visit for the better part of a day. However, you would be well advised to make plans for the rest of your weekend as Komárno is best seen on your way elsewhere.


Sights & Sounds Travel Tips

Informačné Centrum- Dôstojnícky pavilón 2, 0819/3177, 0819/4568. Open: Mon.-Fri. 7:30-15:30. Extremely helpful.

LODGING

Ring Bar- Letná 4, tel.: 0819/638-68. Has five double rooms. 450 Sk for foreigners, 300 for Slovaks. Accepts Master Card.
Hotel Európa- M.R. Štefánika 1, tel.: 0819/4251. Singles for 410 Sk for Slovaks, 650 for foreigners. Doubles between 690-810 Sk for Slovaks, between 990-1,350 Sk for foreigners.
Hotel Čajka- Bratislavská cesta 2, tel.: 0819/3422. Doubles for 256 Sk for Slovaks, 583 for foreigners. Triples for 371 Sk for Slovaks, 795 for foreigners.
Delta Pension- Malodunajské nábr. 10 (across bridge on island in the Danube), tel.: 0819/639-83. Single for 480 Sk, Doubles for 960 Sk, Apartments with TV, satellite and refrigerator for 1,080 and 1,280 Sk. Prices include breakfast.

DINING

Fortezza- In Bastion Number 6; tel.:0819/603-68 Open: Mon.-Sun. 11:00-23:00. A wide range of pizzas, pastas and Hungarian dishes. A disco next door.
Grosso Pizzeria- Velchovnícka 21; 0819/5470. Open: Mon.-Fri. 10:00-22:00, Sat.-Sun. 12:00-22:00. Italian food at good prices.
Reštaurácia Klapka- Nám. Gen. Juraja Klapku 9 (In the Zichy Palace); tel.:0819/637-44. Open: Mon.-Sat. 9:00-24:00, Sun. 12:00-24:00. Features standard Slovak food priced 60-120 Sk per main dish. They greet you in Slovak, Hungarian, and German as you enter.
Sonáta Café- Dôstojnícky pavilón 1, tel.:0819/3048. Open: Mon.-Fri. 9:30-23:00, Sat.-Sun. 14:00-1:00. Upstairs in a beautifully restored yellow building complete with turrets. Great for coffee and cake. In nice weather, the terrace offers a great view of the main square.

IMPORTANT PLACES

The Danube Museum- Palatínová 13, 0819/4153 Open Tue.-Sun., 10:00-17:00.
Serbian Orthodox Church- Palatínová 32, 0819/4017. Open Tue. - Sun., 10:00-12:00 and 14:00-16:00; 10 Sk.
Bastion Number 6- Okružná cesta, 0819/612-41. Open Tue. - Sun., 10:00-17:00.

Topic: Tourism


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