Date updated: 02/06/2023
Poprad is a town in the northern part of Slovakia, near the river of the same name. It is situated at an altitude of almost seven hundred metres above sea level in the foothills of the High Tatras. Today it has a population of about 50,000 people. The Poprad-Tatry airport is situated not far from the town. It is the highest airfield in Europe.
In ancient times there was a settlement here called Matejovce. It is now part of the town. A tomb from the late fourth century A. D. , which was found here by archaeologists, confirms the signs of civilization already in that distant time. The separated villages Spiska Poprad, Květnica, Matejovce, Velká, Spišská Sobota and Straže below the Tatras became the basis for the later integrated city conglomerate.
The first documented mention of Poprad is from 1256.
At that time, the region was settled by German colonists. The town was subject to the Hungarian kings until the fourteenth century, but in 1312 it became part of the Polish lands. The whole Spisz was written off for royal debts and did not regain its former status until 1772. The economic development of Spisz was favoured by the railway line construction in 1871 (from Košice to Bohumin).
At the end of the twenties, Poprad became the county centre. Spiska Sobota lost its importance because of its smaller population and weak economic development. The convenient access to tourist trails and ski slopes of the High Tatras encouraged intensive cultural and social development of the town. The town gradually incorporated Spišská Sobota and other nearby villages. Thanks to this development, Poprad became one of the most densely populated villages in the region beneath the Tatras.
Note. In the Middle Ages, Spisska Sobota was considered to be the richest and most developed town among other competitors of upper Spisz. But in the twentieth century Poprad took over the initiative, absorbed the old and once very successful town. Nowadays this part of Poprad is an attractive tourist site with an ancient architectural complex and a reserve of monuments.
What makes the town at the foot of the High Tatras interesting?
Poprad has earned a reputation as a tourist paradise and successfully enjoys all the advantages of a place where you can not only have a good rest, but also be active in many sports. You can find one of the most popular ski areas with an excellent infrastructure.
Athletes from all over the country and Europe can enjoy outdoor activities in the beautiful forests. The slopes are suitable for all sorts of purposes and will satisfy both the experienced skiers and the beginners. A special ski school for children and teenagers has been functioning here recently. The best trainers in the republic work with them.
Tourists have at their disposal a full-fledged "adult" training base. Professionals can improve their skills on one of the so-called "black slopes". These are slopes with higher level of complexity. There are also snowboarding slopes. Skiers are provided with full equipment. Modern, safe lifts take them to the slopes.
Visitors have a chance to indulge in fine local food and try Slovak wines, beers and spirits (e. g. dozens of kinds of plum brandy). There are plenty of cafés and restaurants in the town and in the hotels. Hiking in the surrounding countryside is an unforgettable experience. The Tatra Mountains with their lush forests are protected by the state as a nature reserve. The Tatra National Park with its wildlife can be found in the northern part of the town. The Slovak Park with its richly vegetated nature, dramatic rock formations and gorges can be found in the southern part of Poprad.
Church of St Egidio
The Church of Sant'Egidio (Námestie svätého Egídia) is one of the oldest religious buildings in Poprad. It was the location of a typical Gothic church from 1245. Later it has been rebuilt several times, greatly changing the appearance of the building and the style of expression. By the present time the church has absorbed many features typical of Baroque. The building was last reconstructed at the end of the last millennium. It is possible to admire the wonderful frescos from the fifteenth century, which have remained almost intact over the years.
A tall bell tower was added to the main building in the seventeenth century. The whole complex is considered an important architectural masterpiece of the town and region and is protected by the state.
Church of St George
In its original form it was a large late Romanesque cathedral. Only parts of the old building remain. The southern portal and a couple of the nave walls have been completely preserved. The ancient Renaissance bell tower from the end of the sixteenth century is intact, as is the measure by which grain was weighed. It was sold on fair days right outside the cathedral.
Juraja church (Farský kostol sv. Juraja (Spišská Sobota) church was built between 1271 and 1273. The building was reconstructed in the middle of the fifteenth century, in the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. Interesting for the overview is the altar from 1516 - a masterpiece from Pavol of Levoca, and the Renaissance bell tower from the end of the sixteenth century.
Church of the Holy Trinity
The church was built between 1829 and 1834 in the Classicist style, designed by Jan Fabrizi. The classical altar was built in 1838. In the church there is a tombstone of the priest, writer and nobleman Ondřej Fabrizi from 1830, who worked in Poprad for 41 years.