SLOVAKIA

Rich in minerals, wool, flax and shrewd merchants in the late Middle Ages, Slovakia was on one of the great trade routes of Europe and the roads must have been clogged with traffic. The highlights of Slovakia are still the fruits of this wealth seen in the extraordinary rich churches most with glittering with realistically carved altarpieces in the early days of the Renaissance. One of the greatest is to be found in Levoca carved by Master Paul and his studio. The centre of Bratislava has the charm of an Austro Hungarian city, but the real gems are found in the small mining towns as Banska Stiavnica and in the foothills of the Tatra Mountains where, near the Polish border, are found delightful wooden churches. Kezmarok has a fine library too. Here religion and tradition are strong. Spis Castle and neighbouring Spisska Kapitula are extraordinary reminders of power and the cloistered life. Good collections of furniture and ceramics are found in the Palffys’ Cerveny Kamen and the Andrassy house at Krasna Horka. Everyone interested in costume should make a pilgrimage to the great costume museum at Martin.