There are not many places where you will be able to eat breakfast in one country and your lunch in another. The location of Slovak town Štúrovo certainly gives its visitors that possibility. When entering the town it is hard not to notice the large basilica on the other side of the Danube. Walking towards it you will soon find yourself on a bridge crossing the border into Hungary.
Our initial reason to visit the town was mainly to get an easy access to Hungary. However, we soon noticed that the town itself had a lot more to offer than just the bridge and view across the Danube. It was a pleasure to get the possibility to also see Štúrovo.
With its 11.000 inhabitants, it is a small town in the region of Nitra in southern Slovakia. The town is located at the border; right next to the Danube and with Hungary on the other side of the river. It is on the main Bratislava-Budapest railway line.
A Short History of Štúrovo
The first written records of the town date back to the 11th century, then under the name of Kakath. The Hungarian name for the town is Párkány. The current Slovak name is fairly new: it dates back to the aftermath of World War II. The name is a dedication to 19th century Slovak national leader Ľudovít Štúr.
The town came under the rule of the Ottoman Empire after the Turks conquered Buda in 1541 and it lasted within the empire until 1683. For those of you who are not familiar with the history of this part of Europe, these territories were part of Hungary for a very long time. The town remained a part of the Kingdom of Hungary until 1920.
The town became a part of Czechoslovakia after World War I, but was returned to Hungary in 1938 as a part of the First Vienna Award. Štúrovo once more became a part of Czechoslovakia after World War II when the First Vienna Award was annulled.
The Mária Valéria bridge joins Štúrovo with Esztergom on the Hungarian side. The bridge was destroyed twice during the 20th century, first during World War I and then again during World War II. It was later rebuilt and reopened in 2001.
According to the 2001 census, 68.7 % of the inhabitants identified themselves as ethnic Hungarians.
4 Things to Do In Štúrovo
The Mária Valéria bridge
This is the bridge across the Danube connecting the town with Esztergom right on the other side in Hungary. The bridge reopened in 2001 it became one of few border crossings between Hungary and the western part of Slovakia. The project to rebuild the bridge was covered by a grant from the European Union, in order to assist Slovakia and Hungary in their preparations to join the union.
The bridge itself is quite impressive, but it also offers a great view out over both the center of Štúrovo as well as the Basilica in Esztergom. The bridge was designed by János Feketeházy and named after the Archduchess Marie Valerie of Austria. The bridge opened in September 1895.
Spas and Thermal Baths
The southern part of Slovakia has one thing in common with neighboring Hungary. That is the thermal baths. You will find one of these in most towns in the area and Štúrovo is no exception. So if you have nothing else planned, why not dedicate some time to pampering yourself.
The center of Štúrovo might be small, but it it quite nice to just spend some time walking around. There are not many memorable sights, but the atmosphere in the center is cozy.
Esztergom is probably the main objective for visiting Štúrovo. Althought you might get sidetracked before crossing the border. It is really easy to walk across the Mária Valéria bridge and reach the center of Esztergom in a few minutes. There is no border control.
Esztergom is larger than Štúrovo with a population of around 28.000. The sights are also larger with the main one being the Primatial Basilica of the Blessed Virgin Mary Assumed Into Heaven and St Adalbert. If you think that is a handful, try saying Nagyboldogasszony és Szent Adalbert prímási főszékesegyház). Yes, there is a reason why language nerds love Hungarian. It is also simply known as the Esztergom Basilica for all of us who would not be able to remember the full name. The Basilica stands on top of the Castle Hill, overlooking the Danube river below.
Esztergom is also perfect if you are looking for some Hungarian Goulash for lunch. Esztergom is actually a very prominent city in Hungarian history. It was the capital of Hungary from the 10th till the mid-13th century.
Going to Štúrovo?
The easiest way to go to Štúrovo is either by road or rail. There are regular trains from the capital Bratislava.
- Car: There are no major road going to Štúrovo. Smaller roads are connecting the town with towns in the area such as Levice, Nové Zámky and Komárno. There is also a bridge connecting the town with Esztergom in Hungary.
- Bus: There are local buses connecting the town with other towns in the area.
- Train: The Eurocity trains between Prague and Budapest stop just outside of town. These trains connect the town with Bratislava and Budapest. There are also local trains to Levice.
The driving distance to Štúrovo from 3 major Slovak cities, according to Google Maps:
Bratislava– 174 kilometers (1 h 50 min)
Žilina – 262 kilometers (2 h 49 min)
Košice – 297 kilometers (3 h 8 min)
This post belongs to our series Exploring Slovakia. Click on the link to read about other interesting places in beautiful Slovakia!