End of August 2021, I am on the road again, to Berlin via Slovakia and Poland. My route: Munich, in Slovakia: Bratislava – Trnava – Nitra – Žilina – Terchová – Dolny Kubin, then in Poland: Wilkowisko – Cracow – Szlarska Poreba – Wroclaw, and finally Berlin.
Nitra is my next destination. It was here that during the Great Moravian Empire, Cyril and Methodius translated the bible to the Slavic language in the late 9th century. Their successors were expelled later and introduced the Slavic bible in Macedonia and Bulgaria. Cyril and Methodius are venerated in Slovakia, though the country is a Roman catholic country today. The orthodox cross is on the coat of arms of Slovakia.
I had selected the hotel 11 because of the terrace with the view of the castle hill. Coming from Trnava, I settle and first have a coffee on the hotel terrace, enjoying the great view of the castle hill with the cathedral, the religious centre of Nitra.
Overview of my tour as a Swiss butterfly through Slovakia
Source: Elevation map of Slovakia
The historic castle hill of Nitra with St. Emmeram Cathedral
I climb up the castle hill using the Samova street and crossing the Pribina square with the Pribina statue and the beautiful baroque palaces.
Pribina is the first known ruler at Nitra that is of Slavic origin (around 860).
Passing the monument reminding of Cyryl and Methodius, I reach the Maria column that parallels the belfry of the cathedral.
Graceful angels are surrounding Maria.
The cathedral is behind the fortification wall.
Inside the cathedral, I climb up the stairs – and I notice this new kind of holy water.
Yes, we go through a pandemic right now and disinfectants are important.
The cathedral consists out of three churches. At the highest point is the Baroque church.
I like the trompe-oeuil painting with the people at the window.
In the lower church, this beautiful Gothic fresco of the death and coronation of the Virgin Mary has been uncovered during the restoration works of 2005-2014.
On the opposite side of the fresco, I admire the representation of the deposition from the cross and the burial of Christ (Johannes Pernegger, 1622).
The third church hides behind the Gothic church. It is of Romanesque style, from the 12th century.
I look back at the cathedral from outside.
Behind the fortification walls, I find a bar with this beautiful view of the city and the mountain Zobor.
Strolling around in the pedestrian area in the lower city centre
Nitra has set up its pedestrian area with care. You can shop here and restaurants invite to sit down.
This Renaissance Revival building from around 1880 was the town hall and is now the regional museum.
Nitra is proud of its singing clock. My Müller guidebook says that the melody plays at midday, but I heard it several times in the late afternoon, while having dinner.
Near the pedestrian area, I visit the Synagogue built around 1910 combining Moorish, Byzantine and Jugendstil elements.
I enter and admire the solemn atmosphere with the cushions on the floor that invite to pray.
On the way to my hotel, I come across the Baroque Ladislaus church that is part of the Piarist monastery. The Piarists founded their catholic order in the early 17th century to teach children and youth.
The warm summer evening on the terrace with the footballer’s wine and the view of the castle hill
I return to my hotel 11 to enjoy the warm summer evening on their terrace. At the reception bar, I select a wine from Hamšík winery. Hamšík is THE football player of Slovakia. While playing football in Italy, he learnt about wine and wineries and now, he sells his wine that is famous in Slovakia. What a great plan for his future, when he will no longer be a football star.
With my glass of wine I sit on the balcony of the hotel 11 and enjoy the view of the castle at twilight…
… and then at night.
I stay here until midnight. I know, this is the last warm summer evening… rain is announced for the night. The ugly summer 2021 that I have experienced in Basel will catch up with me again now.
Drazovce – the pretty church Saint Michael north of Nitra on a hill
After a good breakfast at my hotel 11, I buy some Slovakian wine in the shop nearby. Then I leave the city in search of the small Romanesque church Saint Michael from the early 12th century at Drazovce. It turns out to be difficult to find the village and the church.
First, my GPS takes me south to another place called also Drazovce. I notice that after a few kilometers and return to Nitra. My GPS now guides me north on the express way to Drazovce-Nitra. However, the exit to Drazovce is closed due to construction work. It takes me quite some time to find the detour to the village. I park my car in the village, follow a small foot path and find this chapel full of atmosphere. It was worth the effort!
From here, I have a magnificent view south, to Nitra with the Castle hill and the Cathedral.
Before I drive north towards Teplice, I stop to take another photo of this marvellous church above the rock.
Thank you, my Müller guidebook, for having pointed me to the chapel Saint Michael.
Perhaps I will return to Nitra one day to visit the castle hill with the cathedral once more, to climb the mountain Zobor and to taste wines at the vineyards around Nitra.
- André Micklitza, ” Slowakei”, Michael Müller Verlag 2019
- Frieder Monzer, “Slowakei”, Trescher Verlag 2018