Cheese! The name of this town came from German - Käsmarkt, a Cheese Market. This town could be a symbol of the whole Spisz history. Funded by Slavic people, re-funded by the Saxon colonists in the 13th century, it became an important local centre of trade. Predominantly German but with significant populations of Slovaks, Hungarian, Jews, nowadays Gypsies. During some time ruled by a Polish noble from Łaski family. The Hungarian and German were expelled during the times of the WW1 and WW2, respectively, but their traces are still visible in this charming town.
Kieżmark (as it is called in Polish) was a home of the first “official” tourist to the Tatras - Beata Łaska. She went for an excursion to the Tatras without his husband’s consent. For this reason she was sent to the prison where she spent many years (some say it was also due to her richness which her husband could use during her “absence”**. Anyway, the story is true, 16th century!
Kežmarok Sightseeing - the rich history of this town gave an interesting range of monuments from different periods:
Wooden Articular Church of the Holy Trinity, from 1717 (so called Old Protestant Church), listed on UNESCO’s Heritage List, Baroque in style, built in… 3 months. Kežmarok was an important centre of Protestant Church, however they lived within a pro-Catholic country. It is called Articular because of the 1681 decreet and its 26th articulate that allowed the Protestants to build one church in a royal owned town (like Käsmarkt). However, the church had to be built of precarious materials, so it was made of wood (larch and yew). Its size reflects the number of local Protestants at that time (it can gather up to 1500 persons). Its design was inspired by typical Dutch churches of the time. If open, don’t miss to enter.
New Protestant Church - the symbol of the town due to its original, Oriental-styled architecture (yes, it is the one with “the minaret”), built in the last years of the 19th century. Nowadays it houses a mausoleum of Emerik Thököly, a Hungarian national hero, born in Kežmarok.
Kežmarok Castle - late-Gothic castle, once an enemy of the town as the owners (nobles) were trying to control a self-governed, free town. Eventually, after centuries of conflict it was… bought by the town in 1720. Nowadays it houses a museum of the town (history of Kežmarok).
Old Town - typically “Spišish” merchant town, it deserves a short walk to soak the atmosphere. Check the beautiful classicist town hall (Radnica) and the Pauline Church for more interesting monuments.
Find it on Day 3/5: The Land of 7 Cultures.