Exploring the East: Rožňava and Betliar

On my journey to explore the eastern part of Slovakia, I went on from the border with Ukraine to Rožňava, a lovely little town close to the Hungarian border. The bus connections worked very well, and the weather played along too, so I could just watch amazing landscapes flying by.

In Rožňava I met up with one of my students, Vojto. He had invited me over to show me around his patch and I stayed with him and his mum for a few days. I had a really great time – thank you both very much again!

Rožňava is a small, but beautiful town, which used to be extremely significant for mining, especially silver and other metal ores.

plaqueToday, it’s a rather quiet place where there’s not much work to be had, so many people are leaving. For tourists, however, it’s still a fab place. If you’re interested in mining & geology, there’s a big museum to introduce you to all you ever wanted to know about that.

For those who prefer the open air, you can climb up the clock tower and enjoy the views.

roznava-tower roznava-view-1 roznava-view-2The tower plays a little tune every full hour, and it’s always a different one, from folk music via classical to jazz. A bit tacky, but I liked it.

The whole region is also called Gemer, which is an old Hungarian name. I really like the way how those names bring back the history of a place! There’s so much to see, both in terms of cultural heritage and outdoors, I only scratched the surface. A good overview is on this website: http://www.retep.sk/indexe.htm

If you’re there, and castles or manor houses are your cup of tea, you shouldn’t miss the Manor House of Betliar. It’s only a handful of kilometres away from Rožňava and can easily be reached by bus.

betliar-castleThe guided tour (in Slovak, but German and English are on offer, other languages come on leaflets) took just under an hour. If you’ve ever watched those ‘Sissi’ films about the Austro-Hungarian empress Elisabeth – this is the castle of her Hungarian attaché Andrássy. I was more impressed by the open-mindedness of the family, especially compared with contemporary Slovak politicians.

betliar-koran-curtainThe manor house also comes with a huge park with a lake and little rivers. What impressed me most, however, was of course the library. betliar-library