Discover the fascinating artistic heritage of eastern Slovakia on this new tour, developed with art historian Alex Koller
Visit the Cathedral of St Elisabeth in Košice, one of the most important Gothic buildings in Eastern Europe
Take in beautiful landscapes on a circuit of the region, visiting castles, wooden churches and open-air museums en route
“I have never encountered a tour guide as knowledgeable as Dr Koller in all my (many) years of art tours”
“Alex is always thorough and brings the subject alive”
- ACE customers on previous tours with Alex Koller
A combination of picturesque scenery, well-preserved towns and villages, and major architectural and artistic monuments make eastern Slovakia a rewarding destination for travellers interested in exploring a country unspoilt by mass tourism. This new tour provides an in-depth understanding of the rich artistic heritage and fascinating history to be found at the foot of the High Tatra Mountains.
Košice, the most important urban centre on our route, has the largest contiguous area of historical buildings in Slovakia, and, in the form of St Elisabeth’s Cathedral, one of the most important Gothic buildings in Eastern Europe. Similarly unexpected is the exquisite architecture of sites such as the Zápolya Chapel at Spišský Štvrtok.
For an area remote from many of the main centres of European cultural development, eastern Slovakia is extraordinarily varied – principally due to its historical connections with Hungary, Poland and the German-speaking world, as well as the presence of a variety of religious groups, among them Catholic, Lutheran, Eastern Orthodox and Greek-Catholic/Uniate communities.
While the rich legacy of Gothic art, in particular the oeuvre of Master Paul of Levoča, looks towards Southern Germany and Austria, aristocratic houses are predominantly linked with Hungary, as exemplified by the Andrássy Manor in Betliar. The mausoleum of Imre Thököly, one of Hungary’s national heroes, is found in the town of Kežmarok, also situated in the Spiš area of eastern Slovakia. Meanwhile, the grandeur of 19th century Hungarian architecture can still be appreciated at spas like Bardejovské Kúpele.
The latter moreover features an open-air museum of vernacular architecture, a subject that forms a particularly important focal point of our tour due to eastern Slovakia’s vast collection of wooden churches. These encompass several denominations, including Catholicism and Lutheranism; Greek-Catholic churches are also widely represented.
Throughout our tour, we will take in the region’s remarkable natural scenery, which is largely unspoilt, with highlights including the Slovenský Raj National Park and views of the High Tatra Mountains.
We will stay at hotels of three and four-star standard in Košice, Kežmarok and Bardejovské Kúpele.
Our Tour Director is art historian and experienced tour leader, Alex Koller, PhD. Alex studied in Vienna, Salzburg and Cambridge, and gained his PhD at Magdalene College, where he also lectured and supervised. An accomplished linguist, Alex has led many art and architecture tours across the globe, and his experience ranges from Eastern Europe, Russia and the Himalayas to Japan and Southeast Asia. Having undertaken a comprehensive research trip in eastern Slovakia in 2022 to develop this itinerary, Alex very much looks forward to introducing an ACE group to the region in 2023.