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Slovakia: Levoča Old Town

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Levoča Old Town | Slovakia | Europe

[Visited: May 2011]

On my way to the east, I had already passed Levoča, right next to the eastern city wall, but I planned to visit on the way back. So it was that, as the sun was gaining ground against the clouds that had brought heavy rains the day before, I walked up one of the main streets from the southern side, aiming directly at the central square. But before reaching it, I suddenly felt an urge to postpone the view of the square, and walked around it in a wide circle. I found these side streets, with their small, colourful houses, somehow quite attractive. I walked a little outside the city wall: Levoča has one of the best preserved defense systems of all medieval towns of Slovakia. I entered the town again through a gate on the north eastern side, and I liked it even before I reached what the town is famous for: the main square.

Picture of Levoča Old Town (Slovakia): In the foreground: the Town Hall of Levoča, with the church of St. James in the background

Once on the square, which turned out to be quite big, I noticed large trees, the St. James church, and the Town Hall in the middle of it, while surrounded by house upon house of Renaissance style. I slowly walked the row of houses on the eastern side of the square, one even finer than the other. Among all the charming, unique houses, the one of Thurzov is probably the most famous, and indeed, it is an elegant house, richly decorated on its outside walls, and crowned by a remarkably decorated roofline. But there are many other attractive houses on this square; some of them turned into offices, but many with inhabitants. Colours of the houses range from yellow to green, blue to purple, white to terracotta. The square cannot be seen at once like the Old Town Square of Bardejov, which makes it seem grander.

Picture of Levoča Old Town (Slovakia): Mural on the walls of the Town Hall in Levoča

After enjoying the houses on the square, I turned my attention to the inside: the Cage of Shame, an iron cage-like structure where girls and boys were punished publicly in the Middle Ages for naughty behaviour, and the Town Hall with its arched gallery, and murals depicting the services it rendered. While I was not sure whether to wait for St. James church to open, I decided to do so just for the famous wooden altar - and was very happy with that decision. The warning sign in the ticket office, promising a € 50 fine for anyone taking pictures, made me be obedient for once - if only not to end up in the Cage of Shame after all. Unfortunately, the guided tour of the church was only in Slovak, but the sight of the winged wooden altarpieces was no impressive for it. And to be honest, even from behind the line preventing a closer view, the altar of St. James church, masterpiece of Master Pavol, son of Levoča himself, was truly impressive. Picture an 18m by 6m winged wooden piece with religious scenes painted on it, and you cannot help but admire the craftmanship of the maker. I took a mental picture of this grand work of religious art before leaving the church, and Levoča.

Picture of Levoča Old Town (Slovakia): Thurzov house stands out on Master Pavol square in Levoča, if only because of its roofline
Picture of Levoča Old Town (Slovakia): Looking up the Town Hall of Levoča with the bell tower of St. James in the background
Picture of Levoča Old Town (Slovakia): Purple Renaissance house on Master Pavol square in Levoča
Picture of Levoča Old Town (Slovakia): Cactuses behind windows in an old house on a street in Levoča
Picture of Levoča Old Town (Slovakia): Street of Levoča
Picture of Levoča Old Town (Slovakia): One of the attractive medieval houses on Master Pavol square from below, with bell tower of St. James church
Picture of Levoča Old Town (Slovakia): Each house on Master Pavol square is differently painted
Picture of Levoča Old Town (Slovakia): Bell tower and side entrance of St. James church in Levoča
Picture of Levoča Old Town (Slovakia): The Town Hall of Levoča and St. James church are the central elements on Master Pavol square
Picture of Levoča Old Town (Slovakia): Cage of Shame: this is where naughty girls and boys were publicly punished in the Middle Ages
Picture of Levoča Old Town (Slovakia): Looking up at the Gothic church of St. James of Levoča with graffiti in front

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