UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Slovakia – 26 wonderful places!
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Slovakia! There is a total of 7 listings in UNESCO’s World Heritage List in Slovakia out of which 5 are of cultural and 2 of natural character. Well, 7 is not an exact number, because there are more places covered by one UNESCO inscription.
We are not going to list them all here because only UNESCO caves count here in hundreds. Let’s mention at least the main UNESCO Sites in Slovakia to show you which part of Europe is your next holiday destination. 🙂
Cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Slovakia
1. Bardejov Town Conservation Reserve (2000)
Let’s start with Bardejov, considered by many as the most beautiful town in Slovakia. Well, it is nice indeed! You will find it in the north-eastern part of the country, in Prešov region, not far from the borders with Poland.
You will fall in love with this place once you step in the city and take a walk through its romantic streets, around the medieval town walls that surround beautiful town centre. The main town square is in the shape of a large rectangle.
Its fortification system was one of the best in the whole of Europe. You can still see the main gate and 10 keeps.
Bardejov became one of the Free Royal Towns in the 14th century. The main town’s landmark is the Church of St Egidius which is really unique with its 11 gothic altars.
You can’t miss the 16th century Town Hall standing next to the church. It is really nice from outside but even nicer from inside. Today it serves as a museum or even as a concert hall, so do not miss it!
And once here, you also have to visit a world-renowned spa town Bardejovské kúpele. Even Empress Elisabeth of Austria (Sissi) tried spa’s healing effects here in the 19th century.
Bardejovské kúpele is also a home to open-air museum presenting folk architecture and is surrounded by mountains with a network of hiking trails so you’ll hardly get bored here!
Levoča is a small town in a northeastern part of Slovakia. It is also one of the oldest and most valuable towns in the country. The town was inscribed on UNESCO’s list back in 2009 thanks to its preserved historic medieval centre and fortification system enhanced with the fortification ditch.
Today you can admire lots of sights here and even though the town is quite small it is good to reserve a day if you want to see everything it has on offer. Walk through its walls, magical streets and squares.
Do not forget to visit its landmark, Church of St. James, which is the second largest church in Slovakia (just after Cathedral of St Elisabeth in Kosice). And it houses the highest wooden Gothic altar not only in Slovakia but also in the world (18,6 meters).
There are several museums that you simply must visit to learn something more about this city and region, such as Spiš Museum in Levoča that is spread in three different houses, including iconic Town Hall.
And finally, you should also climb up to the hill known as Mariánska hora. It is one of the oldest and most important pilgrimage sites in Slovakia. Even Pope John Paul II visited this place back in 1995, along with other 650,000 pilgrims on the same day.
3. Spiš Castle
The largest castle complex in Slovakia and even in Central Europe! Well, you will likely find Spiš Castle on every list of the largest castles in the world.
Founded already in the 12th century, Spiš castle experienced turbulent history until it was finally abandoned in the 18th century and gradually destroyed in following years.
Fortunately, its fall stopped at the end of 20th century and now it is the most visited attractions in the whole Kosice region and eastern Slovakia. There are lots of performances, concerts and other events during the year. You can visit it from April till November, every first Sunday of the month even for free!
4. Spišské Podhradie
Spišské Podhradie is a small town situated at the foot of the Spiš castle hill. Spišské Podhradie is extremely rich in historical monuments that are concentrated on its main squares.
When visiting Spiš castle and Levoča stop by to rest for a while here.
5. Spišská Kapitula
Spišská Kapitula was once a village, now it is a part of the town Spišské Podhradie. The village grew up around the local church from the 12th century.
Its most dominant landmark is the late Roman twin towers Cathedral of Saint Martin of the 13th century, but there are also other Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance monuments around, just take a walk!
And once you get hungry there is a chalet restaurant Spišský Salaš nearby with long history waiting for you and offering delicious typical Slovak meals.
Žehra would probably not be so interesting or of any significant feature, but since it is a home to UNESCO church built in the 13th century many tourists come to visit it.
The church is nice not only from the outside, you should step into and enjoy its interior as well. There you can admire valuable wall paintings from the 13th to 15th century.
The church in Žehra is not open every day and in fact, it’s not that easy to get into it (as I heard from some of you who visited the site). Contact parish office and make an appointment prior your arrival. You can find some contact information here: http://zehra.fara.sk/my (only in Slovak, if you need to arrange a visit, let me know below in the comments).
Levoča, Spiš Castle, Spišské Podhradie, Spišská Kapitula and Žehra church were inscribed in UNESCO under one property named Levoča, Spišský Hrad and the Associated Cultural Monuments. The first places were inscribed already in 1993, while the last one in 2009.
7. Historic Town of Banská Štiavnica and the Technical Monuments in its Vicinity (1993)
Another jewel among Slovak towns is Banská Štiavnica. This is the UNESCO World Heritage Site from 1993 and you’ll find it in the central part of the country.
Banská Štiavnica is among the cities with a rich architecture. Monuments in the historic centre were built especially between Gothic and Baroque and they were often rebuilt later.
The largest part of important monuments is located in the city centre, but nevertheless, important buildings are also found in peripheral parts (eg. Calvary). Thanks to a rich mining history there are numerous technical monuments preserved in the area, which are also part of UNESCO.
8. Vlkolínec (1993)
Vlkolínec was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List back in 1993. Come here to see 45 original and almost unchanged rustical houses, mainly from the 19th century with its typical plan of the three rooms. All buildings are made of wood, only the church is made of bricks.
There are still around 30 people living there in these houses and you can even find an accommodation in few of them. So if you really wish to experience real folk holidays in the heart of Slovakia, then Vlkolínec is something you have to try!
The village is close to some of the best skiing slopes in the country, such as Malinô Brdo or Donovaly, as well as to one of the best thermal parks – Thermal Park Bešeňová.
Vlkolínec, UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Slovakia by Stefan Karpiniec
Wooden Churches of the Slovak part of the Carpathian Mountain Area (2008)
From the total number of about 300 sacral buildings around fifty have been preserved in Slovakia until these very days. I recommend visiting all of them, however, only 8 were chosen for UNESCO. And you can find them in the following towns and villages:
Wooden church in Tvrdošín, UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Slovakia (Žilina region – North Central Slovakia) by Pudelek (Marcin Szala)
Wooden church in Leštiny, UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Slovakia (Žilina region – North Central Slovakia) by hrusmar
Wooden church in Kežmarok, UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Slovakia (Prešov region – North East Slovakia) by Zuzana Medveová
15. Ruská Bystrá
Ruská Bystrá Church, UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Slovakia (Košice region – Very East Slovakia) by Henryk Bielamowicz
Wooden church in Hronsek, UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Slovakia (Banská Bystrica Region – Central Slovakia) by Prskavka
This set of eight wooden churches from the 16th to 18th centuries is an outstanding example of the European sacral architecture. They all have some different story to tell… They are usually surrounded by amazing nature and are situated in very magical and special places.
And if you would like to see them all in one day, you can visit Mini open-air museum of wooden churches in Ľutina. There are mini replicas of all these churches, however, you’ll miss the special places where the churches are actually situated.
Natural UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Slovakia
Caves of Aggtelek Karst and Slovak Karst (1995)
This is the group of caves that are spread on two neighbouring national parks – Aggtelek Karst (in Hungary) and Slovak Karst (South East Slovakia). From 15 caves that are opened to the public in Slovakia, 6 of them were inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage Site List (plus around 700 which are closed to the public).
All UNESCO Caves that you can visit in Slovakia are situated in Košice region, in the south-east part of the country. I am not going to describe them all here, as there is another article about Caves in Slovakia only. Just to mention them:
17. Dobšinská Ice Cave
Dobšinská Ice Cave is one of the largest ice caves in Europe and one of the first caves in the world to have electric lighting (1881). It is a part of Slovak Paradise National Park so you’ll find a lot of hiking possibilities all around.
Dobšinská Ice Cave, UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Slovakia by Margoz
18. Domica Cave
Domica is one of the largest caves in Slovakia and the only cave in the country where you can enjoy an underground boat trip on the river that flows through the cave (during good weather conditions only, in the last few years there is less water due to drier climate so the boating is not always possible, but the cave is opened).
Domica Ice Cave, UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Slovakia by Jojo
19. Gombasecká Cave
Gombasecká Cave is one of the most important caves in the Slovak Karst National Park and is famous for the thin straw stalactites.
20. Jasovská Cave
When visiting Košice region you cannot miss Jasovská cave and its surroundings including old Monastery, ponds, old cemetery, and a walk through the forest around. Read more about this destinations here: Visiting Jasov Cave in the Slovak Karst National Park
21. Krásnohorská Cave
Do you rather prefer some more adventurous trips? Krásnohorská cave requires some physical ability and a bit of courage. A few years ago it had even its own record in The Guinness Book of Records for the highest stalagmite in the world (34 meters tall). Until the people found the taller ones elsewhere in the world…
22. Ochtinská Aragonite Cave
Ochtinská Aragonite Cave is one of only three Aragonite caves in the world that are open to the public (the others are in Mexico and Argentina). But do not travel so far, come to Slovakia instead. Some of the oldest aragonite formations are almost 140 thousands years old.
Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians and the Ancient Beech Forests of Germany (2007)
They are not rainforests but are equally important and old! This is why they became a part of UNESCO!
23. Primeval Beech Forest Rožok
Forest Rožok is one of ten forests of the Carpathian beech forests (4 locations in Slovakia and 6 in Ukraine), which were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List back in 2007. Rožok is not accessible for public and it stands right on the borders with Ukraine.
24. Primeval Beech Forest Stužica
Forest Stužica is a National Nature Reserve, the original Carpathian forest, which is situated in a deep valley around Stužická River on the borders of Slovakia, Poland and Ukraine. It’s a part of Bukovske Mountains in Poloniny National Park – near the easternmost Slovak village of Nová Sedlica.
Stužica primeval forest, UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Slovakia by Caroig
25. Primeval Beech Forest Havešová
Forest Havešová boasts one of the tallest beech trees in the world. In 1964 the forest was declared a nature reserve and since 1997 it is a part of Poloniny National Park.
Primeval forest Havešová, UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Slovakia by Benjamín Jarčuška
26. Primeval Beech Forest Vihorlat
Vihorlatské Mountains surround one of the most famous and popular summer destinations in Slovakia – Zemplínska Šírava. And they are also home to UNESCO Forest Vihorlat. Oldest trees in Vihorlat forest are around 240 years old!
So that’s all folks! These are 26 amazing UNESCO places that really worth a visit in Slovakia. Have you already visited any of them? Or just planning your first trip to Slovakia? Let us know below in the comments! 13 additional properties are still on the Tentative List so hopefully, the list will be updated soon!