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Slovakia: Bardejov Old Town

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Bardejov Old Town | Slovakia | Europe

[Visited: May 2011]

It was late in the afternoon, and still raining, when I arrived in Bardejov for the second time that day. A few hours before, I had passed through on my way to Jedlinka, but now, I was here to stay. I found a pension with extremely friendly owners, and since the day was not over yet, resisted the temptation to stay and chat. Instead, I found myself walking in the rain for the fourth time of the day, hoping that the clearer sky in the west was a sign that the worst rains were over. A short walk took me to the northern entrance of the old town of Bardejov, and before I knew it, I was on the Old Town Square, right next to the Saint Egídius Basilica where people were coming out after prayer. I sneaked in right away, and felt dwarfed by the enormous interior of the Gothic church - quite a contrast to the tiny wooden church I had seen just hours before. There was sufficient light outside to make the tall colourful windows stand out, and I especially enjoyed the winged altarpieces scattered around the church, the biggest one obviously right at the altar itself.

Picture of Bardejov Old Town (Slovakia): The heart of Bardejov: the City Hall on the Old Town Square

Outside, I noticed that it had finally stopped raining, and then, I just stood next to the statue of Saint Florián, in a corner of the Old Town Square, to soak in the view of this most famous spot of Bardejov. Right in the middle of the square, I saw the City Hall, like an island in a tranquil bay, surrounded by two rows of medieval Gothic and Renaissance houses, each one of them unique in appearance and colour. The cobble stones of the square were still wet, and I just stood there, watching, to see the light squeezed out of the sky in a very gradual way. Every now and then, someone would pass, echoes of footsteps bouncing back against the old houses that had seen so many people pass by. But for much of the time, I was alone, and I wondered how this was possible: such an attractive place, declared world heritage site, but without visitors. The skies seemed to be clearing, and I hoped I would have a sunny view of Bardejov the next day. I came back to the square after dinner: bright lights made the City Hall stand out, the Old Town Square looking like a fairy tale.

Picture of Bardejov Old Town (Slovakia): Interior of the Saint Egídius Basilica in Bardejov

The next morning, I made sure to be in the town before sunrise, but found the sky still full of clouds. Instead of walking directly to the obvious Old Town Square, I walked on and around the thick city walls, with its defensive towers and several arched bridges crossing the surrounding moat. It almost seemed like I had this charming medieval town to myself: an early Sunday morning, and no one around. But I could not get enough of it, and continued walking, drawing circles around the Old City Square, until I stood right in front of the City Hall. Once again, I walked around the square several times, often stopping and enjoying the views. I was just under the Saint Egídius Basilica when the bells started their call for prayer. Suddenly, people appeared from all corners of the square, and continued to flow into the small entrance door to this enormous church. I wondered how little things had probably changed, in some respects, in this town. Bardejov, founded in the 13th century, was a flourishing city in the late Middle Ages, and the square was a busy market place back then. The basilica had been there all along, and it developed into an important centre for trade with Poland which is quite close. I walked off the central square, and when I stopped in front of the famous icon museum, the lady with the key was just arriving. I enjoyed the beautifully painted Orthodox icons very much, learnt a little more about the wooden churches in the region around Bardejov, before walking to the Old City Square again. Then, for the first time, I was lucky, as the sun was finally winning the battle with the clouds and the square was bathing in the bright light.

Picture of Bardejov Old Town (Slovakia): One of the bridges leading to a city gate of the medieval town of Bardejov
Picture of Bardejov Old Town (Slovakia): Scene on an icon in the famous icon museum of Bardejov
Picture of Bardejov Old Town (Slovakia): Charming entrance to the City Hall of Bardejov
Picture of Bardejov Old Town (Slovakia): Dominating the skyline of Bardejov: Saint Egídius Basilica
Picture of Bardejov Old Town (Slovakia): Defensive tower on the city wall of Bardejov
Picture of Bardejov Old Town (Slovakia): Night view of the City Hall of Bardejov, right in the middle of Old Town Square
Picture of Bardejov Old Town (Slovakia): Old Town Square in Bardejov is surrounded by typical medieval houses
Picture of Bardejov Old Town (Slovakia): Saint Egídius Basilica of Bardejov in the early morning
Picture of Bardejov Old Town (Slovakia): Row of medieval houses on Old Town Square in Bardejov
Picture of Bardejov Old Town (Slovakia): Old Town Square of Bardejov under a cloudy sky in the early morning
Picture of Bardejov Old Town (Slovakia): Sunset over Old Town Square of Bardejov

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