Trenčín (TRENCH-een) was one of the neatest little discoveries I've ever made in my travels. This pristine little Slovakian town is like a mini-Heidelberg, with a large active main square filled with shopping and eating, and a massive castle overlooking from a precipitous cliff. Located just a short 80 miles from Bratislava, Trenčín is a perfect day excursion for anyone visiting Bratislava.
The obvious main attraction is the Trenčíansky Castle, which is clearly visible from nearly every point in the city. This castle was built on top of a Moravian courtyard somewhere around the 11th century. It was used in the 17th and 18th century as a military garrison while the town fought the invading Turks, but it burned down in 1790, and has been under restoration ever since.
The Castle is now a museum and tourist attraction, providing superb exhibits of Slovakian history and culture in the L'udovits (LYOO-duh-vitz) Palace (pictured below).
The exhibits inside here include expositions of medieval weapons and Slovakian heraldry (where one can recognize a number of Germanic and Slavic names that once ruled over the region). Also, the site has exhibitions on medieval tortune in the King's Dungeon Tower, and several impressive art galleries. Professional falconers have an exhibit near the castle grounds' entrance hall, and their birds are on display continuously at the northeast wall.
At the top of the palace is a marvelous observation deck, where you can get a gorgeous view of the town (such as the below). This is the northern half of the main marketplace.
You can also get great views of the Mestský Stadion, the public swimming area, and the industrial center to the far north (which will soon be posted in the Art Shots section under Features).
But, the marketplace is where all the action is, and at unbelieveable prices. I enjoyed the top brand names in Slovakian beer for only 19 crowns for a half-liter (40 US cents). Like many Slovakian towns, Trenčín is quiet -- you won't be elbow-to-elbow people here -- but there were quite a number of locals about enjoying the sunshine, such as those around this unusually elaborate fountain below.
Trenčín's shopping is pretty good -- a number of brand names are available at low prices in their stores. However, the town has as of yet avoided the incredible influx of western billboarding. The town still has the look and the feel of its roots, within its old churches, towers, and streets.
Visitors can easily spend a half-day in Trenčín, possibly more depending on how fast a climber they are (unfortunately, those with physical limitations are not well accomodated regarding the climb to the Castle, as far as I can tell). A recommended excursion from Bratislava would be to leave by train in the mid-morning, enjoy the castle, have a late lunch, stroll the downtown, and return by train to Bratislava in time for dinner.
Trenčín -- one of Slovakia's neatest little surprises!
Trip taken 7 July 2001 -- Page last updated 01 September 2006 -- (C) 2001 Tom Galvin