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3 things to visit in Spisska Sobota Poprad in Slovakia
Other people from Slovakia might not be proud of me now when I admit that although I’ve been to Poprad town many times, I visited its part Spisska Sobota for the first time only in July 2018. I know, it makes no sense but there’s always a first time, right?
Spisska Sobota Poprad is one of the 5 parts of the current Poprad town. It became part of Poprad only in 1946. Since then it’s been the most interesting historical part of Poprad.
3 things to visit in Spisska Sobota Poprad
1. Church of Saint George
According to our church guide, the Church of Saint George, called Kostol Sv. Juraja in Slovak, is more famous abroad than in Slovakia. First written source about the church dates back to 1256 but the church was obviously built before that year.
The original church was a small Romanesque church. It was made bigger in Gothic style adding also a big column in the shape of a palm tree.
The church interior is very special. There’s 5 well-preserved Gothic golden altars with wings. That’s quite many for such a small church which means that rich people used to live in the area. Maybe because silver and copper were extracted in the area in the past.
Inside the church we can find all kinds of styles. For example, Gothic is the main altar with a Madonna from 1464. Surprisingly, the Madonna was once shown in the USA so many Americans know about it. In the middle of the main altar Saint George is killing a dragon. When the British Queen Elisabeth II visited the church in 2008, she was very pleased to have seen Saint George there because he is the main Patron of England.
The youngest altar from 1516 is the one in the middle. Both the main altar and the youngest altars were made by Master Paul of Levoca, the most famous sculptor and carver in the Spis region in Eastern Slovakia.
2 out of 5 altars were done by someone we are not sure of. Most probably he was from Florence.
We all know that wall paintings, the so called frescoes on the church walls served as a Bible for the poor. We can find a big fresco with religious motives on the left side of the main altar.
While visiting the church, don’t forget to look up to the second floor to spot the pipe organ. It is a mixture of Baroque and Rococo styles with angels and many other ornaments. I have to say it is one of the most decorated pipe organs I’ve ever seen in my life. Unlikely to mostly wooden organs in that era, this one was made of metal. The pipe organ in the Church of Saint George is still the original one from 1662 and yes, still fully working even in the present.
Another interesting thing to check in the church is the Baroque style God’s thomb from 1750’s. It is located in a small chapel hall in the back of the church. God’s thombs were usually found in castles and not in churches like this one. I have to say I’ve never seen a “thomb” like this one anywhere else in Slovakia.
Nowadays the Roman-Catholic Church of Saint George is visited many foreigners and also many kids from the Netherlands who tend to talk about history and arts in there. There’s also a mass every day in the church. Did you know that the Church of Saint George was proclaimed a Cultural Monument in Slovakia in 2011?
As you can see, the Church of Saint George in Spisska Sobota Poprad is unique in many ways. I don’t want to reveal all the surprises in this post 😉 I definitely recommend you to pay for a guided visit to learn more. There’s a church guide inside the bell tower. Unfortunately, it’s prohibited to take photos inside so they sent me these photos to use them in this post.
The last 3 photos were taken by Peter Stas. I personally took the rest of the photos in this article.
And when you are outside of the church, go to the parking lot and look closely at the church tower. Not the belfry (bell tower), but the church tower on the right. The bottom part of it is leaning towards the right, while its top is built straight up. Half-leaning tower is just another rarity about Church of Saint George in Spisska Sobota Poprad.
Here’s a video I took of the church:
2. Podtatranske Museum of Poprad
The main hall of the Podtatranske Museum of Poprad is found in Poprad city centre. But one of its exposition halls is right at the main square in Spisska Sobota. Museum with exposition of crafts and guilds from the old times is located in the house number 33 from the 15th century. Inside, you can see also sacral art and what kind of things the locals would use in their houses.
The funniest to me was the old tiny bed. I have no idea how people could sleep on it! I mean I know they used to be shorter than we are nowadays, but still. Seemed like for kids but it was definitely for adults.
Don’t forget to walk to the museum garden to see interesting wooden statues.
3. Main square with burgher houses
Just to stroll around the main square is an experience by itself. Once you visited the Church of Saint George, the main monument of the square, walk around. All those medieval burger houses of different colors are so cute, aren’t they? Some of them are from the 14th and 15th centuries. Don’t forget to check the boards with information in front of some houses. You can find out there which important person used to live in that house.
15 interesting facts about Spisska Sobota Poprad
In 1950 Spisska Sobota Poprad was proclaimed Town Monument Reserve (sometimes it’s also translated as City Memorial Reservation). In Slovak we say it’s Mestska pamiatkova rezervacia.
The village was named after Saturday markets that were hold there every Saturday. The word sobota means Saturday in Slovak.
Many markets with handicrafts still take place in Spisska Sobota Poprad in the present time.
The Renaissance bell tower next to the church was built in 1598. Building a bell tower next to the church was very typical in the Spis region. Why? They wanted really huge bells and were scared that smaller church bell towers would not be able to hold them in. So they would build a bigger bell tower next to the main church. Interesting, right?
Immaculate Marian Column stands just a few metres from the bell tower. The current one we can see now was erected in 2006 and it is just the copy of the original sandstone Immaculata statue dating back to 1689.
Important archive and library are also located in Spisska Sobota.
Matthias Corvinus, the King of Hungary and Croatia (in Slovak Matej Korvin) visited Spisska Sobota in 1474. The reason of his visit is not very clear but we know that he stayed in the house number 31.
A famous military officer Maurice Benyovszky (Moric Benovsky) found his wife in Spisska Sobota.
Jan Juraj Rainer who built the first chalet in the High Tatras mountains was born in Spisska Sobota.
The first big hospital built in Spisska Sobota in 1911 doesn’t exist any more.
A lovely park with many different statues is situated just next to the main square. Unfortunately, it started to rain when we were there so we didn’t really spend time in the park.
Spisska Sobota is also famous for its restaurants and coffee shops. I recommend you to visit the backyard of Atrium hotel/restaurant. Vino and tapas is another well-known restaurant where they do interesting dinners, such as Last dinner from Titanic, or meals from the times of Maria Theresa.
Spisska Sobota Poprad is full of tiny family guest houses. For example Penzion Sabato is a really cute guesthouse just behind the Church of Saint George. However, I did not stay there. I was closer to the Poprad city centre at AquaCity Poprad because of their great wellness and aquapark 🙂
A number of Slovak and Czechoslovak movies were filmed in Spisska Sobota Poprad, such as Tisicrocna vcela (A thousand year oldbee).
One street in town has a nickname of the ”Street of Dead” because everyone who died and is buried at the Spisska Sobota cemetery was taken in a coffin along the street before being buried. The street goes through the only gate that has been preserved in town out of 4 original gates.
Thanks for a lovely trip to Spisska Sobota. For more information about Poprad, check Visit Poprad website. Did you know that Poprad is located in Region Tatry? If you are looking for tips about what else to visit in the area, have a look at Region Tatry.
Alex is a crazy Slovak girl who made traveling the reason of her life. In March 2011 she quit her stewardess job and hasn't stopped ever since. Her motto is ''I live to travel, I travel to live.'' She writes about crazy travel, fun adventures and sexy photos.
Alex is a crazy Slovak girl who made traveling the reason of her life. In 2010 she quit her stewardess job and hasn't stopped traveling ever since. Her motto is ''I live to travel, I travel to live.'' She writes about crazy travel, fun adventures and sexy photos. Alex is also a raw vegan specialist, fitness health coach and yoga teacher.