24 interesting facts about Slovakia

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The last sherpas of Europe, a ‘Clapping Tower’ and the ‘Cage of Shame’ are some of the most interesting facts about Slovakia.

Aerial view of Spiš Castle in Slovakia
Interesting facts about Slovakia include the spectacular Spiš Castle (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: Slovak Republic
Population: 5.4 million
Area: 49,035 sq km
Capital city: Bratislava
Major languages: Slovak, Hungarian, Roma
Major religions: Christianity
Time zone: UTC+1 (Central European Time)
– Source: CIA World Factbook

Interesting facts about Slovakia

1. Slovakia is a landlocked country located in Central Europe bordering Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Ukraine.
– Source: Britannica

2. From 1918 to 1992, Slovakia, along with the Czech Republic, was part of the former country of Czechoslovakia.
– Source: Britannica

3. The relatively amicable break up of Czechoslovakia was known as the “Velvet Divorce” in reference to the bloodless Velvet Revolution that overthrew communist power in 1989.
– Source: The Economist

A map of Slovakia and its bordering countries
Slovakia borders five countries (Shutterstock)

4. The name Slovakia likely comes from the Latin word “Slavus” meaning Slav. It had the local form “Sloven” which was used since the 13th century to refer to the territory of Slovakia.
– Source: CIA World Factbook

5. Slovakia is known for its exceptional concentration of caves. There are over 1,000 within its borders.
– Source: UNESCO

6. Slovakia’s flag is a traditional Slavic white, blue and red tricolour, similar to the flags of Russia and Slovenia, but features the country’s coat of arms of a red shield with a white cross rising from three hills – the Tatra, Fatra and Mátra ranges.
– Source: DK Publishing (2008) Complete Flags of the World. DK: London

Slovakia's flag flying in the wind
Slovakia’s flag (Shutterstock)

7. Brown bears, European wolves and Eurasian lynx (three of Europe’s Big Five animals) can all be found in Slovakia, particularly in its famous High Tatras National Park.
– Source: Lonely Planet

8. The highest peak in the Carpathian Mountains – the enormous range running through Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine – is in Slovakia. Gerlachovský štít in High Tatras National Park is 2,654m (8,709ft) high.
– Source: Lonely Planet, Britannica

9. Adjoining Austria and Hungary, Bratislava is the only national capital to border two sovereign states.
– Source: Wanderlust (2021) Flags, Capitals and Countries of the World: The Complete Handbook. Wanderlust Press: London

Bratislava at sunset showing the River Danube
Bratislava is located on the River Danube near the Austrian and Hungarian borders (Shutterstock)

10. From 1536 until 1848, following Ottoman conquests in Hungarian territory, Bratislava was the capital of Hungary.
– Source: BBC News

11. Bratislava got its name in 1919 after Czechoslovakia gained independence. It likely derives transliterations of the 9th-century military commander, Braslav, or the 11th-century Bohemian Duke Bretislav I. Finally, it may also come from the Slovak words brat (brother) and slava (glory).
– Source: CIA World Factbook

12. Slovakia has the world’s newest and most accurate astronomical clock. Built in 2009, the Stará Bystrica Astronomical Clock uses satellite-controlled software to display true solar time. As such, it’s believed to be the world’s most accurate astronomical clock.
– Source: Atlas Obscura

The Stará Bystrica Astronomical Clock
The Stará Bystrica Astronomical Clock (Shutterstock)

13. Spiš Castle is one of Central Europe’s largest castle complexes. Initially built in the 12th century, the castle features a 22m-high tower.
– Source: Lonely Planet

14. In Levoča there is the Cage of Shame. Here, during the 16th century, women caught on the streets after dark were imprisoned overnight in their undergarments and had their heads shaved as an example to other females.
– Source: Rough Guides

15. Pop artist Andy Warhol’s parents came from Slovakia. Their village, Mikova, is considered a place of pilgrimage for his fans, still has some of his family living there and has converted a post office into the Andy Warhol Museum of Modern Art.
– Source: New York Times

A road sign outside Mikova featuring Andy Wahol
Slovakia is the ancestral home of Andy Warhol (UA-Lora/CC BY-SA 3.0)

16. Other celebrities with Slovakian roots include Angelina Jolie, Paul Newman and Jon Bon Jovi.
– Source: IMDB1; The Telegraph; IMDB2

17. In total, Slovakia has eight properties inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
– Source: UNESCO

18. Slovakia is famous for its wooden churches located in the Carpathian Mountains. The eight structures include Roman Catholic, Protestant and Greek Orthodox churches built between the 16th and 18th centuries, mostly in isolated villages.
– Source: UNESCO

A wooden Greek Orthodox church in Slovakia
A wooden Greek Orthodox church in Slovakia (Shutterstock)

19. In the town of Banská Štiavnica, there is a Clapping Tower (Klopačka) where a giant clapping contraption was built for waking up miners. Today it still claps but only for the amusement of tourists.
– Source: Rough Guides

20. Kofola is a popular fizzy drink in Slovakia. It was created as an alternative to Coca-Cola and Pepsi when Western goods were prohibitively expensive in the region.
– Source: BBC Travel

21. The Basilica of St James in Levoča has the world’s tallest wooden altar at 18.6m (61ft).
– Source: Slovak Tourist Board, UNESCO

Outside the Basilica of St James in Levoča
Basilica of St James in Levoča (Shutterstock)

22. Slovakia’s High Tatra Mountains are home to the ‘last sherpas of Europe’. Here, it’s not unusual for porters to still carry enormous loads of up to 100kg up and down the mountain trails using skis, crampons and chains.
– Source: BBC Travel

23. The Fujara is an extremely long flute played in Slovakia. Measuring between 160cm and 200cm, the Fujara is played with three finger holes traditionally by Slovak shepherds.
– Source: UNESCO

24. The village of Terchová in northwest Slovakia is known for its collective vocal and instrumental folk music, traditionally played by shepherds.
– Source: UNESCO

Every effort has been made to verify these facts about Slovakia using primary sources. However, if you find an error or have any questions, please contact us.