A Blacksmith and a Sword in Nitra, Slovakia

Archaeological digs in and around Nitra, Slovakia, have discovered evidence that the earliest settlements in the area go as far back as six thousand years. But the city traces its modern foundations to the ninth century. That’s also when Prince Pribina built the city’s first Christian church. Nitra has memorialized him with his own statue.

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Seen below, Sts. Peter and Paul Church traces its origin to the 1620s. At the time of my visit in May 2008, workers had just recently found what they thought was a crypt underneath the flooring. They were estimating that it could date back to the ninth century. It was really cool seeing how excited our guides were about the discovery.

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The next picture is of Corgon, who is holding up a corner of The Canon House in Nitra. According to the local lore, Corgon, a blacksmith known for his strength, achieved mythical status after he saved the town from an invasion. What’s even better than being mythologized? Having your own brand of beer.

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Nitra has a pleasant Pedestrian Zone designed specifically for enjoying part of the city on foot. As the previous link indicates, the sword you see below is meant to be a symbol of peace. That’s because the blade is buried in the ground and cannot harm anyone. The design was copied from a real sword found in a ninth century tomb.

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Here’s a view of Nitra from one of the nearby hills.

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I didn’t stay in Nitra very long. I was part of a group who spent four weeks visiting both Slovakia and the Czech Republic, and our stay here was only a couple of hours long. Despite that, it was a lovely introduction to Nitra’s history. And staying on the subject of lovely, take a look at the chestnut trees that are still quite common in this part of the world.

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I was particularly fascinated by these magnificent chestnuts because the American chestnut tree has been largely wiped out by blight and is difficult to find.

Bonus picture!

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Nitra is a bit hilly, and the city expected (rightly so) that not every tourist is willing or able to climb a lot of stairs. So, the city has a “train” to give travelers a lift.

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