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Trencin Slovakia – Along the Rah River

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Trencin Slovakia Castle, overlooking the town clock tower

Trencin Slovakia Castle, overlooking the town clock tower

On the Western edge of Slovakia, not too far from the Czech border situated along the Vah river is the city of Trencin Slovakia. Although the city has it’s modern areas, the old town portion has many items of great and historic value.
The easiest way to get to Trencin Slovakia is by rail. Just pay attention to the stops, because they don’t make announcements as to what stop you are at or the next one on the train’s journey. If you plan on driving, the city is situated on the D1 Motorway which easily gets you to or from Bratislava and other cities.
If arriving by train, it is a short walk through M.R. Stafanika Park to the old town, several hotels and of course the castle. The first place you will come to is the Hotel Tatra. Even if you don’t plan on staying there you will definitely want to make a stop in at some time in your visit. This is because of the Roman inscription in the stone wall that the castle rests on. It is one of the oldest examples in all of Central Europe and visible from the terrace of the hotel.
If you are planning on staying, you might want to visit the Culture and Information Center located in the old town. Just head into the old town from the Hotel Tatra, following the road to the left. Keep heading in the same direction past the square with the small stage in the middle to the first modern looking building to the left. This is the Visitor Center. There you can find schedules for all of the museums and they can even help you book a room if you need it.
Of course, you can’t really miss the impressive castle, perched high above the old town. Finding the path to the castle is not too difficult as long as you keep a watch on where you are. The easiest is to start in front of the Hotel Tatra and walk toward the old town keeping to your left. Follow the first road that branches off to your left and just keep heading up. It will double back for the final leg up to the castle. At this point it gets a little steeper and there is a large rope built into the path wall to help those that need it. At the castle gate, about half way up, there is a window to purchase tickets and find out the tour times. The only way to go through the castle is with a guide, but it is good because they offer up a wealth of information regarding the history of the castle, it’s owners throughout the past and of the surrounding region. Most of the tours are presented in Slovak, although on my last visit they were offering two or three in English. Try getting there a little early in the day to make sure there is one still available and also because, in the summer months, it is quite frequent to experience afternoon showers.
The tour has many portraits of the previous families that lived in the castle, along with artifacts and weaponry. The end of the tour brings you to the high tower, giving you a birds eye view of the old town. Once the tour is over you will find several hands on displays and demonstrations on the ramparts of the castle. These include blacksmiths, archery and falconry. If you are hungry, there is also a small snack stand and a gift shop. If you are really lucky you will catch a wedding tradition of the newlywed couple visiting the Well of Love.
When you finally depart from the castle, don’t follow the switchback road down. Instead keep heading straight and you will find the Parish Church (Farsky Kostol). A 14th century church featuring a combination of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque influences. Nearby is St. Michael’s Carner. Originally built as the Bone House in the 15th century, it is the only mostly undamaged Gothic structure other than the castle. Also there is another nice overlook of the old town.
As you again start making your way down, you will find the Parish staircase. It is a covered wooden staircase, originally built 1568 as an additional defense passageway to the castle. Over the years it has burned and been rebuilt. It’s lower end drops you off in the middle of the old town and in a good spot to continue your exploring.
As you continue on, keep an eye out above for the statue of St. Jan Nepomucky kneeling on a cloud. The small street you are on will soon open up into Mierove Namestie (Peaceful Square). It feels a little more like a very wide street. Lined with shoppes and cafes. There is a small stage where the city hosts various performance artists and you will usually find small booths setup with crafts and art for sale. You will also find the Plague Pillar. Placed in remembrance of the plague that struck the city in 1710.
Soon you will probably recognize the area where you started your trek to the castle. But that doesn’t mean your done. Near by is the Museum of Trencin (Trencianske Muzuem). The 17th century building was built as a family palace and was eventually the district office of Trencin. It currently houses regular exhibits of history, art and archaeological items from the region and all over Slovakia.
If you follow the road to the 3-way intersection and follow it around to the left you will find yourself on Palackeho Street and pretty much heading back in the direction you just came. This is an active street, so be careful when crossing the road to look in any of the shop windows. There are several hotels and restaurants here. Also, if you are in need, there is a cosmetics shop and a pharmacist (lekaren) located on this street.
When you reach the end of the street, it will turn to the left and there you will find the Synagogue. It is an impressive building with architecture that stands out from the rest of the surroundings. Unfortunately it was pillaged during WWII and all of its contents were stolen. It is open to the public on occasion. But usually is only used as an exhibit hall for events that visit the city.
Just around the corner is Sturovo Square. It’s a triangular shaped pedestrian area with a whimsical fountain of a man coming out of a well spitting water that skips along the street. Of course there are the usual shoppes and cafes. I was pleasantly surprised to find a small sandwich shop that had bottles of Dr Pepper in the fridge. Since I’m from Texas, that is my preferred soft drink and a rare find overseas.
Some times on weekends you will find small stages set up with puppet and story tellers for children and their families.
If you keep heading in the direction of the castle hill you can’t miss the lower city gate tower. Originally built as a two story structure, it has grown over time to have six levels. During the summer months it’s possible to climb to the top and get a close up panoramic view.
Nearby you will also find the culture and information center.
Now that you have the lay of the land, explore it. There are plenty of nooks and crannies to keep anyone busy for quite a while. As you may have noticed, there are plenty of places to eat here. Make sure you give one a try for some great food. As a last note, Sunday is a day of rest for most of the city. Although you will find a few cafes open, don’t count on having as many places to explore and maybe just relax yourself. Enjoy.

Alan (Travelin' Al) Stiebing

Author: Alan (Travelin' Al) Stiebing

Alan Stiebing has been traveling for over 20 years. He blogs and photographs his experiences and passions for travelinal.com and other digital and print outlets.

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