The first thing I noticed when we stepped out of the car was the warmth. Spring had arrived and there was a lovely scent in the air – a mixture of pink blossoms and blooming lilacs. And how pretty the blossoming trees looked against the pale cotton candy colours of the buildings surrounding us. Lost in the light, the scent, the colours, for a moment I didn’t know where I was but I knew I was happy to be there.
If it wasn’t for my hunger I would have been happy to just wander the streets and take in the sights as they came. But not only was I hungry but we were all hungry and eager to try a new Asian restaurant we had heard about called Enak.
On the outside, Enak looked very unassuming but once inside we found a nice modern bistro with a vaulted ceiling. The front room was very cosy and dark while the room in the back had plenty of light and there was even an outdoor patio behind it.
Most of the tables had been reserved but the waitress was kind enough to point out quickly that the reservations were for later and that we could sit anywhere if we just wanted to grab a quick bite to eat.
Enak’s menu is inspired by Southeast Asia. The owners of Andrea and Matus are avid travellers and it was during their trip through Asia that they fell in love with the cuisine and decided to bring it back with them to Trnava. They also managed to convince a Vietnamese chef to join them and teach their Slovak chefs how to prepare the Asian recipes they loved in an authentic way.
Enak’s menu is limited but that’s a good sign. They change their menu depending on what types of ingredients happen to be available and depending on what is fresh. We all ordered the Pad Thai and it was the best Pad Thai I had eaten in a long time.
The food that went out to the tables around us looked equally tempting and we were convinced that this restaurant alone was worth a trip to Trnava. The portions were large enough that there was no room to try the tempting raw cakes they had displayed.
I love a nice slice of raw cake and as you will see later I did manage to have a piece somewhere else.
With our bellies full and feeling deeply satisfied (thank you Enak) we wandered into the old town. Our first stop was the Trnava’s Town Tower which was initially built to improve the town’s defence system against the Turkish threat. From its heights, you can clearly see the flatlands outside the town border.
At the same time, the tower provided a good way to watch for fires within the town walls. In 1729 the sundial on its front was replaced by a mechanical clock which is still functional today.
The Town Tower is considered a unique renaissance monument that dates back to 1574. It is about 8 stories high and to get to the top you must climb 3 flight of steep wooden stairs but the view is worth it.
Once back down on solid ground we made our way to St. John the Baptist Church – the first purely Baroque building built in Slovakia. The church’s construction was entrusted to the Italian masters Antonio and Pietro Spazzi in 1629. Its most important feature is its colossal main altar considered a treasure and is one of the biggest early Baroque alters in Central Europe. Another significant interior feature of the church is the painted ceilings depicting the life stories of the church’s patron, St. John the Baptist, from his birth to martyrdom.
Standing on the Sv. Mikuláša square is St Nicholas Basilica whose twin towers is probably the most well known landmark of Trnava. From 1543 -1820 St Nicholas Basilica was the cathedral church of the Esztergom Archbishop. Originally built in the Gothic style it lost it’s original Gothic character in 1618-1630 when cardinal Peter Pázmány ordered its widening and overall reconstruction in the Baroque style.
Just before leaving Trnava we visited the 19th century Orthodox Synagogue. And yet this was not an Orthodox Synagogue but an Orthodox Synagogue turned into a cafe. How is this possible? It was turned into a cafe as a way to resurrect it from a century of decay and as a way to preserve it. When the Jewish community returned to Trnava it had built a new Synagogue and it was decided to turn this space into not only a cafe but a place where exhibitions are heldand other cultural events.
We took a seat beneath its beautiful star painted ceilings and ordered lemonade, coffee and 3 pieces of raw cake – each a different flavour so that we could try a little bit of each. We were pleasantly tired and in need of something sweet.
With its high concentration of churches and significant religious history, I now understood why Trnava is known as Slovakia’s Little Rome. In 1526 Trnava became the main religious centre of Hungary and it remained so for 200 years. This has given it a very special atmosphere worth exploring. The high-speed train from Bratislava costs about 3 Euros (one way) will get you to Trnava train station in about 35 minutes. From the train station, it’s about a ten-minute walk to the Old Town.