Have you ever heard of Kezmarok town in North-Eastern Slovakia? Most probably, if you were not born in Slovakia or very close to the Slovak – Polish border in that area, the town name won’t ring any bell. Even many people in my home country don’t really pay a visit to this lovely mostly reconstucted historical town which, in my opinion, is a shame. So during my last visit I came up with 12 things to do in Kezmarok Slovakia.
It is said that Kezmarok should be visited at least once in a lifetime. I’ve revisited a couple of times already, definitely more than 3. Those before were when I was a little kid and can’t remember it clearly. But my last visit was for 5 day when I invited my mother to stay at the Hotel Hviezdoslav in the Kezmarok city centre.
The best way to get to know Kezmarok is by foot, for sure, which is exactly what we did with my mom and walked around it every single day a couple times. I could not stop staring and taking photos of all the colorful buildings and the historical landmarks scattered around. If I had to pick a place out of all those I’ve been to and call it picturesque, it would be Kezmarok.
*There’s a small entrance fee to most of the following landmarks.
12 things to do in Kezmarok:
1. Wooden articular church first built in 1687 and rebuilt to the present shape in only 3 months in 1717 is a UNESCO World Heritage Site now. This unique church was made of wood without using a single nail. From the outside, on top of the wooden walls clay was used and overpainted in white. Thanks to great acoustics inside concerts take place there. You can find beautiful rich painted walls inside which is very unusual for Evangelich churches.
2. New Evangelical Church from the 19th century stands out even among all the colorful city centre buildings because of its easily recognizable Eclectic style with Byzantian, Renassaince, Romanesque, Moorish and Oriental elements. The Mausolem of Imrich Thokoly, the uncrowned king of Hungary who fought here for religious freedom in the 17th century, can be found inside. The church looks very symmetrical but has only one tower which ruins the symmetrical rules.
3. Lyceum and its Library is the biggest secondary school library in Central Europe holding approx. 150 thousand precious books, out of which the most precious ones are 55 first editions called incunabula (all printed before 1500) and 3,000 books from the 16th century. This fact proves Kezmarok has been the town of poets and writers. There’s also Luther’s Bible stored there. Many famous writers studied there at the Lyceum, such as Pavol Orszagh Hviezdoslav, Vojtech Alexander, Aurel Stodola, etc.
4. Kezmarok castle is a rarity because most castles in the world are usually built on top of a mount but this one is located in the flat city centre. It was built to protect the town inhabitants and in the Dark Ages known as the St. Elisabeth Church. The castle owners demanded taxes from a free royal town which is why the castle was a burden in the dark Ages. There’s 12 exhibits at the castle Museum (local guilds, old coat of arms, historic pharmacy, historic cars etc.) and many different performances/activities are organized there at the castle yard throughout the year. I was told that the castle is cursed and the Black Lady, the castle key holder who stole precious jewelry, still strolls around it so watch your watches and earrings!
5. Redoute is the huge yellowish building with a Latin inscription located not far from the Town Hall. At the same place a watch tower used to stand before Redoute was built in the 17th century. Now just a flag reminds us of a former tower. In the same century the building was reconstructed as a manor house for the Thokoly family. It used to hold the municipal library for many years. Now the library has been moved to a different location still in the city centre.
6. Roman Catholic Holy Cross Basilica is the white church with grey roof on the Church Square (Kostolne Namestie) and is definitely worth a visit. Just check if the door is open to enter and admire golden ornaments. The Basilica was built in 13th century but the current Gothic appearance is from 1444. Inside a statue of Jesus carved by the famous Maestro Paul from Levoca can be found. In 1998 the Pope John Paul II raised the church to Basilica minor, the first Basilica in Slovakia not of Virgin Mary. Don’t forget to admire the small vox celesta with nine registers, the main altar with martyred Christ and the senator’s bench beneath the choir.
7. Belfry is the Golden Tower standing next to the Basilica shows many Renaissance signs as it was built at the end of the 16th century. The oldest bell from 1525 has a 20 cm crack on it and thus gives an unclean C-tone. According to a legend, one of the bells flies to Rome on Holy Thursday.
8. Old market is the oldest inhabited street in Kezmarok where you can see restored houses from the early 13th century. Typical Spis houses with shingle roofs and stone walls up to one and a half metres can be still found in the upper and lower part of the street.
9. Paulinius church initially built in the Baroque style is the light sand-colored church standing among houses on the Main street (Hlavne namestie). In 1650 the Kezmarok town donated 3 houses which were rebuilt into this Catholic church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. A small sculpture of Christ’s baptism in Jordan proves the building also served as a Catholic parish church. The church burnt down several times and was reconstructed in the Rococco style which is the one we can see nowadays.
10. Historical cemetery is the eternal rest for many known townsmen, Mr. Kray included. Some colorful tombs reminded me of my visit of the Recoleta cemetery in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Jewish cemetery is worth a visit, too.
11. Museum of Housing Culture leads visitors back in time to when tiny dishes and candles were commonly used for lighting. It presents furniture and living rooms typical for the Spis region inhabitants. The collection shows also writing desks, clocks, pipes, wardrobes, female suitcases. The saying goes the building is still haunted so let me know if you bump into a ghost during your visit 😀 The museum is situated just 3 houses right from the Hotel Hviezdoslav I mentioned above.
12. Town Hall Municipality right in the city centre with the town Mayor office.
PS: Every second week of July the EĽRO European Folk Handicraft festival takes place in Kezmarok Slovakia for 3 days where you can learn more about particular crafts.
For more information about this sweet town (in English and other languages), visit the Kezmarok website.
And if you are visiting our beautiful country, please also check out 10 reasons to visit Slovakia. If you haven’t planned your visit yet, this might change your mind. Trust me 😉
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.
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