Day 32 - Visiting Spis Castle

Omelette for breakfast
Sunday 27th July 2014

It's a grey morning and the castle is shrouded in the mist. We have an omelette breakfast and are on our way by 9am. We have learned to visit tourist attractions early, especially on a Sunday.

 

To allow the sun to burn away the mist we first visit Spisske Kapitula, a catholic chapter a kilometre outside the village on the opposite side of the valley to the castle. It is a walled enclave dating from the 13th century enclosing St Martin's Cathedral and a quaint street of gothic houses. Sadly the cathedral is locked so we cannot see inside.
 

Monastery walls

St Martin's Cathedral

Now the day is heating up and the castle is revealed. We ride up the single track road to the car park and change into lighter attire. It's still quite a hike up to the outer gate and into the castle.
Entrance cost is €5 (€4 for the old git) and is the best four quid's worth so far on this tour. The climbing continues up to the most intact part of the castle, the main keep.
 
Climbing up the high tower


Mick on the high tower

High Tower selfie - wow it's hot!
Here there is a museum and a dungeon with medieval torture implements on display. This is thought to be the oldest part, and is mentioned in chronicles dating back to 1209.

Sadly a massive fire devastated the castle in the 18th century, so much of it is in ruins.
We continue climbing up very narrow stairway tunnels onto the top of the tower. The views are phenomenal from up here.
 


In the museum

The village down below
The chapel

View from the tower
Back down and through the labyrinthine galleries and walkways we happen upon a reenactment performance. It is very Shakespearean in style, like a few scenes from one of the comedies. We can't understand a word of it of course, but you don't need to. It's funny and tragic and well acted with impressive sword fights. It lasts for around 20 minutes. The actors must be sweltering in their Middle Ages costumes.
 


Action shot

More action

The cast take a bow




Next back down to the main keep and the cafe and souvenir complex, quite tasteful and unrestrained for this part of the world. They obviously don't allow the gypsy traders in here.
After coffee and ice lollies I take a walk round the vast walls of the lower castle. It is sweltering and Mick opts for a rest in the shade of the wall while I sweat it out getting the photographs.



On the castle wall


Stage for opera

Dominates the landscape

Girl and castle


We have spent a good three hours wandering around this fantastic castle. It's now 1pm and time to get moving.

 Back on the bikes we are now heading for the Pieniny National Park. This is an area around the Dunajec Gorge where a fast flowing river cuts through 500 metre high sheer cliffs. In the summer the big attraction is river rafting through the gorge. There are dozens of narrow rafts running from Cerveny Klastor to Chata Pieniny. The trip takes about 90 minutes, and looks a bit wet. 
River rafts at the head of the gorge

We ride up and over to Chata Pieniny on a lovely road over a small pass the mountains of the High Tatra range loom ahead of us.
We decide not to stay here and double back over the pass to Cerveny Klastor and find lodgings in the Hotel Pltnik (thanks Lonely Planet).

 


Penzion Pltnik
Here in the tourist area the prices are a lot higher than lower down off the slopes. We pay €34 for room only. However fresh river trout is on the evening menu for three euros so all is not bad.
The room is cheerful and well equipped. It's been a long hot day and we are fast asleep by 10pm.
Tomorrow we head into and out of Poland to see the Polish side of the High Tatras. 


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