5 Most Important Archaeological Sites In Slovakia You Should Visit

From Roman military camps to Slavic burial grounds

JamesDeMers (CC0), Pixabay

Slovakia´s archeological findings might not be able to rival those from Italy, Greece or Middle East. Yet they definitely don´t deserve to be completely overlooked. If you consider yourself a real history and archeology fan and you happen to be in Slovakia, these are the places to include into your itinerary.

1. Gerulata

Ever wondered how far to the north has actually Roman Empire reached in its good old times? Beautifully preserved remains of roman military camp in the Bratislava´s outskirts might give you a clue. Gerulata dates back to the 2nd century AD and its significant importance is underlined by the number and variety of local findings – two cemeteries, bakery with large stone ovens, robust watch towers, workshops and plenty of barracks. Gerulata was in fact part of Roman borderline Limes Romanum. Remains of this military camp might have far from the famous excavation sites in Italy, yet it still serves as a lovely place to enjoy your day out – especially if you happen to be a history buff on your trip to the Slovakia´s capital Bratislava. There´s a small museum, a possibility to arrange a guided tour and the open air excavations themselves. Once in the area, you can also enjoy a lovely walk in the nearby forest park.

2. Havránok

If you don´t have enough imagination for visualizing all those beautiful buildings of our ancestors just by seeing some subtle remains in the ground, you should definitely head to Havránok – a unique archeological open air museum. Situated in the beautiful surroundings of hilly Liptov area next to the picturesque water basin Liptovská Mara, this charming place hosts an imposing reconstruction of a fortification and a settlement from the Late Iron Age. Although the museum itself doesn´t contain any real antiquities, its location and content is not incidental. Havránok is one of the most important archeological sites in Slovakia. Human presence here dates at least to the 1st century BC and artifacts found in this locality prove both Celtic and Slavic cultures were thriving here in the past. What is the best time to visit Havránok? Try the first half of July when local history enthusiasts organize attractive historical festival called “Živý Starovek” here.

3. Devín

This majestic castle ruins near Bratislava are definitely worth being on every tourist´s itinerary when visiting Slovakia. The castle´s location is simply perfect. Overlooking the confluence of rivers Danube and Morava and marking the historical border of the Iron Curtain between Slovakia and Austria, this place has unbeatable genius loci. Yet its bold history is even more thrilling – the evidence shows that this area was continually inhabited from the 5th millennium BC and nearby sandstone caves with fossils of prehistoric fish and scallops might even satisfy some paleontology fans. Archeological findings prove the existence of Neolithic, Celtic, Roman and Slavic fortified settlements here, while the remains of medieval castle on the dramatic cliffs above the river banks can be seen from far away. Take your time and join the guided tour of the castle uphill. There´s much more to this recently reconstructed site than can be seen from the outside.

4. Zámeček – Slovak Troy

Thanks to the great number, variety and importance of its archeological findings, this area in southern Slovakia was nicknamed “the Slovak Troy”. In fact, this place is one of the richest excavation sites in the whole Central Europe. Before Slovaks started using Euros, they even had this site represented on one of their Slovak crown coins. The most valued finding from this site is definitely the Neolithic statue called “Slovak Helen”, or “Venus from Hrádok”. This stylized figure represents the goddess of fertility known as “Magna Mater” (Great mother) and, thought the original has been, understandably, moved from the site long ago, you can still admire the enlarged copy directly on the spot. History of this site dates back to 5th millennium BC and it was continually inhabited for at least 1200 years. Archeologists found plenty of beautifully crafted ceramics, highly valued bronze artifacts, remains of skillfully built and even repeatedly improved and repaired buildings and graves of both humans and animals providing the priceless information about the lives of local inhabitants. Do you fancy juicy historical mysteries? Some of the human bones and skulls from the site are hinting that these lovely people might in fact be opportunistic cannibals…

5. Bojná

Bojná is the most important archeological site of Slavic origins that can be found in Slovakia and, since it´s still relatively uncovered, the hopes of possible future discoveries on the spot are rather high. Scientists have just recently scanned the grounds in Bojná from air using the Lidar technology that has, for example, also contributed to some of the most important archeological findings in Cambodia, Honduras or Canada. Bojná is in fact a vast complex of fortifications that has served as cultural and political centre of the area even before the formation of Great Moravia (874 AD). It is a source of great archeological wealth – more than 800 unique artifacts have been excavated here so far, including the rare gold-plated bronze fittings, bell clappers and many more. The reason why this site has so much to offer is quite prosaic – for some reason, this place was abandoned abruptly and it has never been repopulated since. All the treasures of its magnificent past thus remain silently waiting in the ground to be rediscovered…

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