Small Carpathian Region

Devín Castle

Devín Castle

Cerveny Kamen (Red Stone) fortress

Cerveny Kamen (Red Stone) fortress

Right on the doorstep of the capital of Slovakia, Bratislava, are the Small Carpathianss. This range of hills, whose wooded peaks are a protected area and whose southern slopes are covered by vineyards, spreads north-east from the Danube for about 50 kilometres.

The Carpathians begin at the confluence of the Danube and Morava Rivers. Devín Castle, once a strategic stronghold, rises above the point at which the rivers meet. Archaeologists have discovered Roman, Slavic and medieval artifacts here. In 1805, Napoleon's troops destroyed the castle and we can thus admire its former beauty only thanks to a painting by Canaletto dated 1763. Bratislava residents often make trips to the romantic ruins of the castle, and it is now difficult to imagine that less than twenty-five years ago this area was part of the miltarized Iron Curtain border zone because of its proximity to the Austrian frontier.

A typical folklore product of the Small Carpathians Region is Modra pottery. The pottery-making tradition was brought here by the Anabaptist refugees – Habans – who settled in the region at the end of the 16th century. The so-called Haban pattern is used in Modra pottery to this day. You can explore the traditional techniques used in its production during a visit to the factory in Modra where it is made. There is also an opportunity to buy the pottery at the factory outlet.

Nestling in the Small Carpathians near Modra is the Renaissance Cerveny Kamen (Red Stone) fortress, in its time the best-fortified castle in the Carpathians, built to defend against Turkish raiders. It was constructed by the noble Palffy family in line with contemporary defensive technologies and a visit to its gun bastions (casemates) is, even today, an impressive experience.

The area is surrounded by serene vineyard landscapes, and it is possible to spot various statues of St. Urban, a patron saint of viticulture. The excellent local wines have to be sampled, and one good place to do so is in the cellar of the Small Carpathian Museum in Pezinok. This is a typical old house with a narrow yard and historical wooden wine presses. The forested Small Carpathian hills are a popular leisure destination from Bratislava. No walk in the woods is complete without a pleasant glass of wine in one of the area's small winegrowing towns.