Poprad

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Poprad  is a city in northern Slovakia at the foot of the High Tatra Mountains, famous for its picturesque historic centre and as a holiday resort. It is the biggest town of the Spis region and the tenth largest city in Slovakia, with a population of approximately 50,000. The Poprad-Tatry Airport is an international airport located just outside the city. Poprad is also the starting point of the Tatra Electric Railway (known in Slovak as Tatranska elektricka zeleznica), a set of special narrow-gauge trains (trams) connecting the resorts in the High Tatras with each other and with Poprad. Main line trains link Poprad to other destinations in Slovakia and beyond; in particular, there are through trains running from Poprad to Prague in the Czech Republic.

History :  The territory was since the Migration Period inhabited by Slavic settlers. The first written record dates from 16 March 1256 in the deed of donation of the Hungarian King Bela IV. It was colonized in the 13th century by German settlers and became the largely German town Deutschendorf meaning ‘Germans’ village’. From 1412 to 1770, as one of the Spis towns, Poprad was pawned by the Kingdom of Hungary to the Kingdom of Poland, resulting in a strong Polish influence on the city’s further development. In the 17th century, the number of Germans began to decline. In January 1919 this territory was placed under the control of Czechoslovakia.

Poprad itself was for 690 years (up until 1946) just one of several neighbouring settlements, which currently make up the modern city. The other parts of the current municipality are Matejovce (first reference 1251), Spisska Sobota (1256), Velka (1268), and Straze pod Tatrami (1276). The most significant of these original towns was Georgenberg, now Spisska Sobota), which preserved its dominant position in the area until the late 19th century. During World War II, Poprad was liberated on 28 January 1945 by troops of the Soviet 18th Army. After the war, with the development of winter sports, it became the starting point for expeditions to the High Tatras. In 1999, Poprad put in a bid to host the 2006 Winter Olympics, but lost to Turin, Italy.

Access : Coordinates: 49.059444, 20.2975 / By plane :  1 Airport Poprad-Tatry (TAT IATA).  is the highest-placed airport in Europe, 718 m above sea-level. It sees limited, mostly seasonal, service. The nearest international airport is in Kosice, approximately 100 minutes by road. By train : Direct trains serve Poprad from Prague, Zilina, Kosice and Bratislava. Trains can be caught from Bratislava main train station (Bratislava Hlavna Stanica) approximately every one to one and a half hours. The approximate fare for this trip, which lasts about 5 hours, is €12. Local electric trains (tram like) reach to nearby mountain resorts of Vysoke Tatry – Smokovec, Tatranska Lomnica and Stbrske Pleso.

A really cheap way of getting to Poprad from Prague is with RegioJet trains. You can choose either the night connection, which arrives in Poprad early morning, or the train during the day. Tickets for normal seats are 10€ and in sleeping car 13,5€. Onboard it is possible to buy very cheap food and beverages, including beer (under 1€) which will be brought to your RegioJet also has good connections to Bratislava.

By bus : From some towns in Czech Republic, Poland or Slovakia it can be easier to catch a bus than a train. Bratislava: regular bus connection by many bus companies.
Kosice: regular bus connection by many bus companies.
Banska Bystrica
Zilina: egular bus connection by many bus companies, at least once every hour during the day, it takes around 2 hours, tickets cost around €7.
Zakopane: the bus company Strama goes from Zakopane to Poprad with a few stops in Vysoke Tatry, ticket cost €5,50 one way . This service is irregular, especially in winter. In front of the station in Zakopane, there is a bus stop with a sign that lists the times the bus leaves for Poprad  unfortunately it’s in Polish, but it’s not hard to figure out. If the service is not running, look for the drivers that stop in front of the bus station. Tell the driver you want to go to Poprad. Your best bet is to get enough people who want to go to make it worth the driver’s while. Some locals may also going, so ask them if you can join them to form a group. The driver will drop you off at Lysa Polana (Lysa is pronounced Wee-Sa in Polish), the border town between Poland and Slovakia. Wait for another bus to take you to Poprad (not long)

Attractions : Historical buildings – Classic and Baroque houses, Renaissance houses, Burgher’s habitation and church of St. John the Baptist (Jan Krstitel) in Straze, church of St. Jan Evanjelista in Velka, Renaissance bell tower from 17th century and church of St. Stefan in Matejovce, ruin of Poprad castle from 15th century in Zamcisko nad Kvetnicou.

1 Church of St. Egidius, St. Egidius square. Early-Gothic from the late 13th century. Interesting wall paintings (like the oldest High Tatras panorama).
Evangelical church, St. Egidius square. Classicist style from the mid-19th century. edit
2 Church of St. George (Juraj), Spisska Sobota. There is an interesting Gothic altar by Master Paul of Levoca.
3 Podtatranske museum Poprad, Vajanskeho 72/4. Mondays closed. you could find expositions Ganovce – The Environment of the Neanderthal Man, Prehistoric Age and Early Middle Age below the High Tatras, Poprad through Centuries, Nature both known and unknown, Manufacture of blue-printing from Elemir Montstek’s workshop in Hranovnica and Folk plastics. €2, reduced 1.
4 Tatranska gallery Poprad, Hviezdoslavova 341/12. Saturday closed. Currently it is housed in the former steam power plant, its scientific and exhibition activities present especially the work of visual artists from the Spis region and the wider Eastern Slovakia. But there are also many works of other notable Slovak artists. €3, reduced 1,5.

Activities : Poprad offers a lot of pleasure activities for its tourists and citizens. 1 Aqua City Poprad, Sportova 1397/1. It has several indoors and outdoors swimming pools, sauna, water toboggans, fitness centre, children’s playground, hotels, bars, cafes and restaurants.
Poprad has good conditions for sports such as swimming, football, basketball, tennis, and skating, bowling or extreme sports. If you like cycling, Poprad and Svit are connected with bike paths. It is also very popular with roller skaters.

In the winter there is skiing or snowboarding to High Tatras, Svit – Lopusna Dolina, Kubasok – Spisske Bystre or Poprad – Kvetnica. If sports are not for you there is shopping from clothes to souvenirs.  Young people should visit the International Festival of Mountain Films and the music festival Okey Leto.

Go next : Levoca / Spis Castle / Kezmarok / Vysoke Tatry / the Tatra Mountains and the Slovak Paradise National Park.

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