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Greetings from...Bardejov


photo: Ján Svrček

Bardejov, the centre of the Upper Šariš region, has remained largely unchanged over the past few hundred years, giving it one of the most beautifully preserved old town centres in Slovakia. As a result it manages to attract tourists to this northeastern area of the country, far from the capital.

The 15th century Cathedral of St. Egídius dominates the town centre. Its gothic-revival interior is on a magnificent scale with an eight-metre high crucifix, massive main altar and 11 smaller altars flanking the pews.

In 1950 the centre was declared an Urban Preservation Area and many of the older buildings were restored. The quality of the preserved architecture around the town's main square earned the town a European Prize Gold Medal in 1986, the first site in former Czechoslovakia to win the award.

The town's calm exterior hides a dark and disturbing past. In the 15th century it was granted the right to deal with bandits preying on local merchants in any way the locals saw fit. The townspeople were merciless, as a letter dating from 1493 from a local brigand attests, threatening reprisals on the town for the execution of members of his gang.

Even the model of the town as it was in the 19th century, which appears in the town museum, clearly shows gallows on a hill outside the town's moat.

Just six kilometres from the town is Bardejovské Kúpele, a royal spa town that was one of the preferred holiday destinations of the Habsburgs. The spa can still hold its claim to be one of the best in Europe, and attracts visitors from surrounding countries as well as further afield.

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