"Churches......lots of churches....." Top 5 Page for this destination Trnava by leics

Trnava Travel Guide: 97 reviews and 167 photos

I really did not give Trnava the time and attention it deserved. Although it is a large, mainly modern settlement it has a historical core which is well worth exploring.

I had fully intended to make a return visit later in my Slovakian stay (Trnava is less than an hour by train from Bratislava) but a pulled 'leg' muscle prevented me (it really, really hurt!).

So my whizz round Trnava was just that...a quick whizz of a couple of hours, with no chance of visiting the cathedral of St Nicholas (1380) because there was a service in progress (not a mass, a special service). All the other churches were closed, unfortunately.

Trnava certainly has a lot of churches in its centre. The town was the first in Slovakia to be 'given a town charter (1238), but the settlement has been in existence since prehistoric times. By the Middle Ages (Medieval times) Trnava had become a wealthy town, not least because it lay on the main Budapest>Prague and Vienna>Krakow routes. It was also an important religious centre, with several monasteries and a Jesuit university founded in 1635.

The town was originally walled, as was the case with many (most?) European settlements of any size. You can still see a little of the city wall remaining, at the back of St Nicholas cathedral and in other parts of the historical centre.

Much of Trnava's earlier architectural heritage was disguised by renovations and changes during the 1700s...lots of Baroque twiddles and twirls are still visible ...and, I'm afraid, there is plenty of evidence of later industrialisation and Communist-era 'concrete block' architecture.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed my wander....

Initial impressions were poor. Trnava railway station is in the process of being renovated and what is in use at the time of writing is probably the dingiest, most depressing and most unpleasant railway station I've ever come across. Exiting the gloomy, grubby entrance area and immediately being faced by a woman with obvious mental issues didn't help matters. But I walked on regardless, hoping that the historic centre would be more pleasant than the grim concrete and busy traffic suggested.

And it was. Once I'd crossed a couple of busy roads I found myself in an area filled with rather lovely trees, with more than one church tower visible and with many an interesting building.

Hlavna., which seems to be central Trnava's 'main drag' , is a very wide, pedestrianised street lined with Baroque buildings, shops and cafes. I wandered up towards the Municipal Tower (main photo, 1500s) taking photos of said twiddles and trying to navigate my way towards St Nicholas. Turning through Trojicne Namestie, the main square, and resisting the offer of a 'free hug' from various university students (I am fussy about whom I hug!) I eventually found myself outside St Nicholas' cathedral.

This is indeed a venerable building, and it was very frustrating not to be able to explore inside, although I believe the interior now dates largely from the 1700s.

But I couldn't see outside, so I walked around the outside and explored the town walls and found what I assume is the outline of the original, much earlier church laid out in red paving slabs.

After that, I just pottered about the town for a while. I really liked the suare which adjoined the cathedral (Namestie Svateho Miculasa) and was interested to note that was where a busload of German tourists were being dropped for their town tour! Lots of old buildings in this area, and lots of mature trees.

Sadly, it seems a lot of those older buildings are being cleared (perhaps because they were too far gone to renovate...I saw several like that as I wandered) There was a very large building site between the square and Halenarska but I was pleased to see clear signs that there had been an archaeological exploration on the site, with a well and a set of stairs discovered far below the existing surface level.

I made my way back to the depressing railway station, taking a route which exposed me to more 'empty' spaces in the historical heart of the town and a truly horrible concrete-block building or two.

Trnava is definitely worth a visit if you are in Bratislava or elsewhere in Western Slovakia. But do allow yourself more time to explore than I did: a full half-day, at least, not just a couple of hours. There is plenty to interest you.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Churches, history, some interesting architecture.
  • Cons:Concrete and traffic.
  • In a nutshell:Worth a visit.
  • Last visit to Trnava: Oct 2012
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Comments (1)

  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo
    Nov 10, 2012 at 1:08 PM

    Lovely little page about Trnava here. At least it looks like you had fabulous weather with a brilliant blue sky during your couple of hours in the city.

    • leics's Profile Photo
      Nov 10, 2012 at 1:12 PM

      Thank you, Holger. It was indeed beautifully sunny: not warm, but lovely. And I really should have spent longer exploring Trnava. Another time, perhaps......


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