Date updated: 02/05/2023
The medium-sized Slovak town of Trnava is situated by the Trnava River, in the west of the country. It is part of the Lesser Carpathians (southern slopes).
In German, the toponym sounds like Tyrnau. The Hungarian name for the town is Nagyszombat. The town was chosen by the Slovak archbishops as their residence. The locals call Trnava the Slovak Rome. The city is home to around seventy thousand people.
A look into the historical past
Trnava is the administrative centre of the Trnava Region. In Slovakia you will find dozens of similar "toy" old towns with very beautiful architecture. They represent the country with dignity and are a serious competition to any Western European town.
Trnava is not far from the Slovak capital. Fifty kilometres is a mere trifle for the region. The city was chosen a dozen centuries ago as a staging post on several important trade routes. Hungarian and Bohemian lands are equally close. Another fork in the road is Poland and the Mediterranean countries.
The first documented mention of the town is from 1211. It is a letter from the Archbishop of Esztergom.
Medieval Trnava was not accidentally chosen as a place for Hungarian monarchs to meet with kings of neighbouring lands. This Slovak town was the first to receive a charter containing special privileges. They were granted to Trnava in 1238 by the famous Ugrian ruler Bela IV.
Already in the thirteenth century the citizens built a mighty fortress to defend the town. In its time, it was considered to be the pinnacle of fortification architecture. It was not without reason that the archbishop of Esztergom moved here in the sixteenth century together with his subordinate hierarchy and all his belongings. It was the time of bloody Turkish wars. The administrative administration of the country was then administered from Bratislava and the religious administration from Trnava.
In the thirties of the sixteenth century, Cardinal Péter Pázmán opened the first Hungarian university here. Students were educated there until 1777. Maria Theresia moved this prestigious educational institution to the Hungarian city of Buda. The knowledge and experience gained there became the basis for the future formation of the Budapest University.
Trnava is also famous in terms of the development of the Slovak language. At the end of the seventeenth century, Anton Bernolák created the first literary variant based on the Trnava-Pidgrian dialect. This was the dialect spoken by the people of Trnava.
The economic development of the region was brought by the establishment of the First Republic in 1918. Its administrative centre became the site of an industrial revolution. Today, Trnava still maintains this status. During World War II the Slovak Army Corps was stationed in the town. Through General Ferdinand Chatlos, it was subordinate to the German command. He ordered the corps to uniform into Wehrmacht uniforms and to defend German towns against air raids.
Today the town ranks among the five most developed industrial centres in Slovakia. The nearby nuclear power plant generates large amounts of energy. Since 2005, French Peugeot vehicles have been produced in Trnava. Recently, ufologists have also become interested in the town. Locals regularly report observation of unexplained flying objects in the sky above the power plant.
And for tourists, Trnava is the perfect place to take a break, find out a lot of interesting things, see the sights, and take beautiful panoramic pictures.
Climatic conditions of the region
The atmospheric and weather conditions in these places allow you to relax at any time, with maximum comfort and the prospect of an occasional return. The Little Carpathians and the proximity of the rivers Váh and Danube are favourable factors in the formation of a moderate continental climate. In winter the temperature usually fluctuates in the zero or plus range. There are occasional frosts of five degrees Celsius, but not very often. The warm weather is March/April and the first half of November. In the summer the air warms up to thirty degrees Celsius and sometimes more. But the average temperature is around twenty-two degrees Celsius. The best time to visit the region and relax in nature is the month of September. This is the time of the harvest. There is a warm peaceful atmosphere. The sky above you is clear and blue, and inside you feel an inexplicable sadness. It's not summer, but it's still a long way from winter. But for a more vivid experience, come May or June.
Rainfall is evenly distributed throughout the months (average annual rainfall is 400 mm).
Trnava is a city with a very good location on the hills. The Trnava River provides coolness in the summer. Lush deciduous forests provide excellent opportunities for interesting hikes to explore nature and for active recreation. There are deep caves to explore. One of them is Drina. This is a surprisingly beautiful place to explore, a realm of limestone, stalactites and stalagmites one to two metres long. There are also sintra lakes with 'cave pearls' under the water. Read more about the cave.
Trnava and its attractions
Trnava is a city full of sacral monuments and architectural masterpieces. They are astonishingly diverse. Here you will find pompous Baroque buildings, gloomy Gothic buildings and houses in classical, formal, modern and cubist styles. Trnava proudly bears the title of the second "Little Rome".
St. John the Baptist Cathedral
The visual appearance of the Cathedral of St John the Baptist (Katedrála sv. Jána Krstiteľa) was very inspiring for its contemporaries. And no wonder, for the building embodies all the characteristic features of the early Baroque. Tourists will want to see the wooden altar. It's a work of art from the mid-sixteenth century. The highlight is the three dozen statues of patriarchs and saints.
Basilica of St Nicholas
The Basilica of St. Nicholas (Bazilika sv. Mikuláša) is the oldest religious building in the city. Its original Romanesque appearance was very different from today's. Today you will see a majestic Gothic church. We recommend that you enjoy the beauty of the chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It is a place of quiet prayer for hundreds of pilgrims.
The City Tower
The Mestska Veza - a Renaissance town tower in the heart of Trnava. It was built during the Turkish period and was a part of the city defence system, as it gave an excellent view and the City Tower also fulfilled the most important function in those times - the alarm in case of fire, for which bells were placed. Explore the gallery of the City Tower and the structure itself. From here you will be able to take in a stunning panorama of Trnava and its surroundings.
It is a source of pride for the people of Trnava. It is one of the oldest defensive structures in the country. The fortress is a historical treasure of the entire region. The walls are six metres thick. The fortification ideally repelled the onslaughts of the Ottomans. Its walls still visually protect parts of the old town quarters.
Trnava has been known to historians since the early thirteenth century, as evidenced by a document - a letter from the Archbishop of Esztergom in 1211.
A defensive fortress was built around the beginning of the thirteenth century. It elevated Trnava to the status of a royal town. The fortification of the town was a decisive factor in the move of the Archbishopric of Esztergom to the town. Trnava was considered impregnable to the invading Turks and thus it was well suited to house the Christian centre of all Hungarian lands here.
The fortress was rebuilt many times over the centuries and underwent significant changes, so you won't notice a seamless transition between the historic part and the modern quarters. They adjoin directly to the fortifications. You can even see the multi-storey buildings of the Czechoslovak period from the fortification wall.
It is rightly considered one of the biggest and most imposing fortifications in Slovakia, as well as in the whole central part of the European continent. In fact, it is a perfect embodiment of a model of an impregnable fortress of the sixteenth century. The development of the town was for a long time determined by the factor of safety, which the fortification ensured.
You can enjoy your time in the city at the local museums and exhibitions. A very interesting place to visit is the Jewish Cultural Museum. You'll find it in the city's former synagogue. You can also see the Jan Konjarik Gallery. If you are a music lover, don't miss the wonderful exhibitions at the House of Music. You can learn a lot about the fate and work of Mikuláš Šnejder Trnavský, as well as John Dopera.
Every year the Dobrofest Trnava music festival is held in Trnava. It is an endless extravaganza of sounds from the so-called resonator guitar. It was invented by John Dopera, a native of the area who moved to the USA at one point. If you manage to make it to the festival, you will get to see masterpieces and examples of musical directions from dozens of guitar masters from Europe and America.
Trnava Tradition Fair
One of the most important cultural and social events in the city of Trnava is the ideally organized Tradičný trnavský jarmok (Tradičný trnavský jarmok).
This annual autumn event takes participants back to the times when traditional local markets were dominant. A popular medieval spectacle beneath the castle walls is an integral part of the event.
The Trnava Fair revives regional culture and ancient crafts. It is also an important part of the modern development of the town, relying on the special rights granted in ancient times by King Bela IV. Trnava used to have eight regular large markets. They were later transformed into annual obligatory events.
During the four-day event, local arts and craftsmen present their wares to visitors. Original handicrafts and wares from blacksmiths, wire carvers, carvers and honey makers are on display. Traditional fair specialties - flour and meat products, young wine - burczak - are available in abundance on Trojica Square. There are merry-go-rounds. If you're a big mead lover, you'll be happy to see a whole range of meads at the fair.
Visitors can take advantage of the rich cultural programme.
Don't miss out on the authentic atmosphere of medieval life. Behind the ancient city walls, in the Antonius Bernolák Gardens, every year during the traditional Trnava Fair, ancient swordsmen, armourers, archers and knights find shelter. They are an organic part of the whole event. Ancient military camps, ancient cuisine, handicrafts, fencing, archery demonstrations and horseback riding provide an authentic medieval atmosphere. You can also visit the city tower. There is a reduced admission rate during the fair days. Trnava is visited by renowned singers, concert groups and bands for the festivities.
This unique artistic programme of the Trnava Traditional Fair comes alive every year beneath the city walls.
It portrays the city's medieval life. During the few days of the year it takes on a real appearance. You can get a taste of the spirit of chivalry. Local and regional enthusiasts stage knights' fights under the castle walls and demonstrate their skills in archery and other martial arts. This is part of a unique event that brings visitors as close as possible to life in the city many centuries ago.
The programme is constantly expanding and getting richer and more interesting. You can expect to see a number of the original camp tents, and get to know the programme and the gastronomy of the medieval period. Original clay cups made especially for the unique event are also displayed and sold here.
Don't miss out on the authentic atmosphere of medieval life behind the ancient city walls in Anton Bernolák's garden.
Swordsmen and knights set up camp beneath the castle walls with their retinue to introduce guests to the Middle Ages through ancient cooking, fencing, archery demonstrations and horse riding. Their aim is to create a colourful feast.
Events related to the everyday lives and activities of Trnava citizens, warriors and nobles in the Middle Ages are linked to the traditional autumn fair programme. This is a series of events, performances, market stalls, and concert, cultural, artistic and theatre programmes. The fair on the town's main square lasts for several days. The event takes place in the first half of September. Follow the announcements on our website.
The Víno Tirnavia International Wine Competition is the biggest wine festival in Trnava and every year the best medal-winning wines from Slovakia, Moravia, Tuscany, Spain and Bordeaux are tasted. Many of them win awards from the prestigious international jury. This wine competition is considered the most prestigious and innovative wine. It has become a leader in introducing modern elements to the system of evaluating the quality characteristics of wine beverages.
It is the first competition in Slovakia which allows winemakers to decide whether they want to decant their wines before judging. They also set the time for preparing the wine for tasting. Slovak winemakers at the competition present their best wines, which would remain undervalued without proper promotion. Visitors can look forward to white, red, rosé, orange and neutral wines. Fans of sparkling and fruity wines won't be bored here either.
The venue is Nádvorie trnavskej radnice, Hlavná ulica. The event takes place at the end of May.
Meet friends at the Tirnavia Wine Spring festival and enjoy the rich aromas of last year's wines as well as mature premium wines from previous years. Also read the article Wine tourism in the Trnava region.