There are several towns in Western Slovakia that are easily accessible from the capital city, Bratislava. Most of these places have a lot to offer for visitors who’d like a short visit or day trip. Trnava is one of the more known cities in Slovakia and it is also very close to Bratislava. Going there takes little more than 30 minutes. With a population of around 65.000, it is the 7th biggest town in Slovakia and it is also the capital of the Trnava Region (Trnavský kraj). The town delights its visitors with multiple beautiful churches and other interesting sights within its town walls.
While living in Bratislava, we took the train to Trnava. However, there are also frequent buses. While in town we took the opportunity – as we usually do – to walk around and enjoy the atmosphere. It is an important student city, and as we visited during a school break, the streets were quiet and calm. The town is perfect for just strolling around and enjoying the view. Because of the compactness of the center, the distance are short and everything is within easy reach. You do not need to worry about getting lost or sorting out how the public transport works. At least not as long as you stay within the town walls.
Essentially Trnava is a typical Central European city: the buildings are weak shades of pastel, the streets are paved with cobble-stones, churches are everywhere. The food is hearty and the alcohol is cheap. In other words, you should definitely go there if you ever get the chance!
A Short History of Trnava
The first written mentioning of Trnava dates back to the 13th century. It was during that very same century that the place became the first town within the Slovak territory that received the privileges of a Free Royal Town by the Hungarian king.
In the 16th century the town’s importance grew and it became an important trade center. In 1543 the archbishop moved from Esztergom (in today’s Hungary) to Trnava. From then the town became the cultural capital of the Kingdom of Hungary and it remained that for 300 years.
Here it might be worth mentioning that Slovakia as we know it today is a fairly young state; for a very long time it was part of Hungary.
Trnava later became a part of Slovakia and between the world wars it was the 3rd biggest town in Slovakia. It has since been part of Czechoslovakia before once again becoming a part of an independent Slovakia in 1993.
5 Things to Do In Trnava
Considering the size of Trnava there are a lot of things to see and you can really feel the historical importance of the town while walking around in the center. Here are 5 things we recommend you to see while visiting Trnava:
The City Tower
In Slovak it’s called Mestská veža and it stands 57 meters tall. The construction of the tower began in 1574. The tower offers a great view out over the rest of the town. A couple of fires in the 17th resulted in the fact that the tower does not have a roof.
The Town Fortifications
The town fortifications include the town wall, parts of which still stands around the central part of the town. The oldest parts of the complex date back to the 13th centuries and it is a unique sight in Slovakia. At the time of construction of the fortifications, Trnava was one of the largest cities in Central Europe (size-wise).
Stroll around in the center
There are a lot more than just the main sights such as towers, walls and churches. Walking around in the center will let you enjoy the scenery and give you the possibility to enjoy a sip of wine, some good traditional food or an ice cream on a warm summer day. Maybe it is here that you will have your first taste of delicious Bryndzové Halušky?
The Trnava University (Trnavská univerzita)
The university was founded in 1635 by the Archbishop of Esztergom and it eventually had four faculties: theology, art, law and medicine. It was originally in use for 142 years (before being moved to Buda) and it has played an important part in the town’s history. The university was reopened in 1992 and it is an important center of legal education and research in Slovakia.
All the churches
You will in Trnava find a lot of them. For example the Cathedral of St. Nicholas (Dóm sv. Mikuláša), the Church of St. Helena (Kostol sv. Heleny), the Church of St. John of Baptist (Katedrála svätého Jána Krstiteľa) and there are also two Synagogues.
Going to Trnava?
The easiest way to go to Trnava is either by road or rail. There are regular buses and trains connecting the town to the rest of Slovakia.
- Car: The road E58 connects the town with Bratislava in the West and Nitra in the East.
- Bus: there are regular regional buses going to Trnava from the capital Bratislava; these buses also connect the town with the cities of Trnava, Zvolen and Banská Bystrica. Buses are run both by Slovak Lines and Student Agency.
- Train: There are trains connecting the town to Bratislava in the West and to Trenčín, Žilina, Poprad and Košice to the East
The driving distance to Trnava from 3 major Slovak cities, according to Google Maps.
Bratislava– 57 kilometers (38 min)
Žilina – 156 kilometers (1 h 20 min)
Košice – 394 kilometers (3 h 48 min)
Below are a few external links where you will be able to find more information about the town of Trnava.
This post belongs to our series Exploring Slovakia. Click on the link to read about other interesting places in beautiful Slovakia!