Slovakia © Marcin Szala
Centrally situated in Europe, Slovakia, or the Slovak Republic, is an up-and-coming tourist destination that beckons travellers from around the world to its rugged mountainous scenery, rich architectural history and competitive prices.
The centre for Slovakia's arts and culture is the capital city, Bratislava, which boasts many museums, art galleries, palaces and ornamental churches in and around its historic Old Town district.
The Tatra Mountains are a popular destination all year round, offering skiing in winter and hiking and climbing in summer; while throughout the country numerous mineral springs and natural spas cater for health-conscious tourists looking to relax and be pampered. Scattered among the hills and valleys of the lowlands are numerous fortified castles, relics from the Middle Ages that were built near to almost every hamlet and major road for protection from invaders. Also among the country's greatest architectural treasures are the ancient wooden churches in northeast Slovakia, unique in their construction without nails, and still functioning as religious buildings today.
Slovakia became an independent nation in 1993 when Czechoslovakia split into the Czech and Slovak Republics. The Czech Republic went on to revel in the glory of its capital city, Prague, which has become one of the must-see cities in Europe; while Slovakia's quiet charms have remained relatively unexplored. Nowadays the beautiful scenery, ski resorts, historic towns and easy access from the rest of Europe means that more and more travellers are starting to add Slovakia to their list of top European holiday destinations.