The region of Spiš has been typical for cohabitation of various nationalities and religions from of old. Dominant features of towns and villages under the Tatras were usually churches. E.g. in case of Štrba, it was an evangelical church built in 1784 and the Roman-Catholic church of St. Andrew built in 1784 on foundations of a chapel from 1306. The town of Poprad arose from five villages that were connected. Each of them had its own church. The most remarkable one is undoubtedly the church of St. George in Spišská Sobota, which dates back to the 13th century.
Even younger Tatra settlements had their own sanctuaries shortly after they were established. Three years after the oldest Tatra settlement of Starý Smokovec was founded, a wooden chapel was built there. A new church of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary was consecrated in 1888. Churches of both confessions were built in other Tatras settlement at the turn of the 19th and 20th century as well.
Wooden churches enlisted in UNESCO World Heritage are typical examples of sacral folk architecture in Eastern Slovakia. You can find them in the High Tatras too – in Starý and Dolný Smokovec, Tatranská Kotlina and Tatranská Javorina. Other significant historical churches in close neighbourhood are located in Poprad and Kežmarok.
Poprad – Spišská Sobota – Roman Catholic Church of St. George
The church of St. George from the mid 12th century is the oldest building on the square of Spišská Sobota. It is decorated with Early Gothic wing altars and the main altar from 1516 made at the workshop of Master Paul of Levoča.
Poprad, Roman Catholic Church of St. Egidius
The church of St. Egidius is the most precious historical monument in the centre of the town. It dates back to the 2nd half of the 13th century.
Poprad – Veľká, Roman Catholic Church of St. John the Evangelist
The church dates back to the 13th century. Only a tower and nave walls were preserved from the original Late Romanesque building.
Poprad – Kvetnica, Roman Catholic Church of St. Helena
The small church is located in a beautiful forest park. It was financed by Peter Ráth and his family and built on municipal land in 1909 – 1910.
Kežmarok, New Evangelical Church
In the second half of the 19th century, Evangelists decided to build a new, representative temple. A religious delegation visited the main regional architect, Teofil Hansen in 1870. He gave them his own projects designed for Orient originally.
Kežmarok, Wooden Articular Evangelical Church
This national cultural monument was built almost 300 years ago. It is one of eight Slovak wooden churches that were enlisted in the UNESCO World Heritage in 2008.
The Symbolic Cemetery at Popradské pleso (tarn) located under a steep rock wall of Mt. Ostrva is a significant cultural monument too. It is a memorial place dedicated to victims of the High Tatras. There are plaques with names of those who died in the High Tatras but nobody is buried there. You can get there from the bus stop Popradské pleso or from Štrbské Pleso along a red marked tourist trail.
Technological monuments and constructions
A suspension cable car operating from Tatranská Lomnica to Lomnický štít (peak) was a unique technological invention in Europe in its time. Only in 1955 was it “beaten” by a cable car operating from Chamonix to Aiguille du Midi in France. Station buildings in Tatranská Lomnica, at the mid station Štart, at Skalnaté Pleso and on Lomnický štít (peak) were all preserved. They were designed by an eminent architect - Dušan Jurkovič. Tatra Grand hotels count to stunning technological constructions that were built in the early 20th century - in Starý Smokovec (1904), Tatranská Lomnica (1905) and Štrbské Pleso (1906). The main designer of luxurious Art Nouveau Grand hotels (Nagyszálloda) was a famous architect from Budapest, born in Spišské Podhradie, Quido Hoepfner.
The region of the Tatras is rich in archaeological finds. The territory of the present Tatra mountain range used to be washed by the sea. This can be seen on limestone sediments of the Belianske Tatra Mts. and Červené vrchy Mts. in the Western Tatras. Geologists found even dinosaur footprints from late geological eras there. After the last glaciers had melted about 10,000 years ago, Tatra valleys turned green gradually. Not only lichens but also various vascular plants with beautiful flowers had to adapt on extreme conditions at high altitudes over 2600 m. And so did several animal species. Some of them have their closest relatives even in polar regions, in the Alps or in other grand mountains. A really precious archaeological find is a collection of remains of a Neanderthal man found at Gánovce pri Poprade.