Date updated: 02/05/2023
Nestled in a green valley at the foot of the south-eastern slopes of the Lesser Carpathians is the small village of Smolenice. Although the picturesque Slovak village is only briefly mentioned in the local tourist guides, it is often visited by travellers who are interested in the history of the region, as well as by people from nearby towns, looking for a weekend in natural surroundings.
According to preserved archives, a settlement of Solmus, belonging to the noble family of the Pezinok family, was established on the territory of the Kingdom of Hungary near the town of Istropolis (present-day Bratislava) in 1256. In 1438, the manor was named Smolenice.
The dawn of the small village began in the 14th century with the erection of an impregnable fort, which was later rebuilt into a magnificent castle. In 1715, Smolenice had 98 inhabitants. In the 18th century, the village came under the ownership of the Pálfi dynasty and became the business and craft centre of the estate.
Today, about 3,400 people live in the settlement on the outskirts of Trnava district.
Smolenica has shops, a primary school, post office, two banks, restaurants, cafes, guest houses and several interesting sights that attract tourists to this peaceful area.
Sightseeing and Natural Sites
The main attraction of Smolenice is the romantic castle built on a hill near the village with pointed towers, arched gates and mighty bastions. The first references to it date back to the 14th century. At that time, the building was a guarding fortress, designed to defend the Little Carpathian mountain passes. In 1583 it was rebuilt and 194 years later it was taken over by the influential Pálffy dynasty.
Church of the Birth of the Virgin Mary
The Church of the Birth of the Virgin Mary (Farský kostol Narodenia Panny Márie) belongs among popular attractions in Smolenice. The ancient church, situated in a secluded spot on a picturesque hill, was brought back to life in 1644 thanks to Count Gabriel Erdödy and his wife. The rebuilt church is an example of Renaissance architecture with Neo-Gothic and Baroque elements.
Next to the church on a small lawn, a giant linden tree grows. It is 23 metres high and its trunk has a diameter of 6.53 metres. The venerable tree is over 300 years old and was declared a protected nature monument in 2000.
Molpir Fort and Museum
One of Slovakia's most valuable historical monuments, the remains of the ancient fortress of Molpír (Hradisko Molpír), is located on the hill of the same name near Smolenice. It was a settlement with three walled courtyards in the 6th century B.C. The life of the ancient Slavic and Celtic tribes is reflected in the findings of archaeologists: household items, ritual objects, weapons and jewellery.
Discovered artefacts, rare books, archival photographs and exhibits about the history, traditions, rituals and nature of the Trnava Region make up the collection of the Museum Molpír.
Rocks that are up to 145 million years old, steep cliffs, deep canyons, hornbeam and oak forests greet those who decide to take a closer look at the beautiful Smolenice Karst Valley. In 1981, the 123-hectare park was declared a national nature reserve. The flora counts some 1,500 plant species, and the fauna includes wild boars, foxes, deer, squirrels, weasels and lynxes.
The most popular destination for tourists hiking in the valley is Hlbocean Waterfall. A gushing torrent falling from a height of 9 metres with a diameter of 1.5 metres, it disappears into the bowels of the earth. Geologists believe that the Drina Cave was formed after the existence of the waterfall.
The Drina Cave is the only accessible cave in western Slovakia and one of the main tourist attractions in the Lesser Carpathians. It is a popular tourist site, where temperatures do not rise above +8°C.
The attraction is open to visitors from April until the end of October.