Tucked away in the hills of the Little Carpathians is the delightful town of Svaty Jur. Only 15 km from Bratislava, this sweet, historical town will capture your heart with its welcoming atmosphere, quaint houses dating to the 17th century, vineyards, wine bars, coffee shops, and its very own castle. Check out this guide for a perfect one day trip to Svaty Jur. Well-known for its history and wine-making traditions, Svaty Jur is the perfect spot to experience town and village life of Slovakia.
Svaty Jur is one of the closest historical towns to Bratislava, which makes it easily accessible by car, train, and bus. Using the train is the easiest way to reach the town since the ride will only take ten minutes from Bratislava Main Train Station. You can also take a bus directly to the town from Bratislava Main Bus Station. You can check the bus and train connections here. If you would prefer to go by car, you can enter the town from Krajinska Street and there are many places to park either near the city center or along the sidestreets.
10 THINGS TO DO IN SVATY JUR
- Explore the city center to see the golden-topped well, the sundial, the mural of Saint George, and the Holy Trinity Church.
- Take a walk along the side streets to see the houses dating to the 17th century and the original town walls.
- Explore the paths along the vineyards. The vineyards are located outside of the city walls and will allow you to see Svaty Jur from a higher vantage point.
- Have a glass of wine at one of the local wine bars, such as Cafe Korzo, Renesancny Vinohradnicky Dom, or Vinarstvo Bognar a Vinoteka.
- See the Roman Catholic Church of Saint George’s wooden bell tower. This tower dates to the 17th century and the bell inside dates to 1400.
- Take a hike to White Stone Castle. The castle dates to the 13th century and will give you the opportunity to imagine what Svaty Jur may have been like during the Middle Ages.
- Have some coffee, ice cream, or fresh juice at Cokokafe. It is a great place to stop and recharge.
- For those with small children, stop by the playground on Letohradska Street. Make sure to bring along a scooter since the playground has miniature roads and traffic signs for added fun.
- See the exterior of the Palffy family’s mansion dating to the 12th century. The Palffy family is famously known in Slovakia so it is worth it to stop and admire the building.
- Make sure to bring a bottle of wine home from ViNOCENTRUM to remember your trip to Svätý Jur!
MEANING OF THE NAME SVATY JUR
Svaty Jur, Saint George, Sanctus Georgius, is known for taming and slaying the dragon. This town is dedicated to the saint and he is depicted on a mural near the city center killing the dragon. This depiction of the saint is also the coat of arms of the town. Since Svaty Jur’s city center is protected, there are many traditional aspects to see and explore.
Close to the city center is the Info Centrum in case you have any questions about Svaty Jur. In the city center, there is a long pedestrian path that you can use as you walk into town.
Once you are at the top of the path, you will be able to see the town’s sundial. You will need to look up in order to spot it on a nearby building. You will also be able to spot the Holy Trinity Church, which is painted in a beautiful pastel yellow. There are also three wells, one of which is located in the city center. The other two can be found by exploring the small, interwoven sidestreets. If you have small children, make sure to head over to the playground located on Letohradska, which is one of the many winding roads.
Since the town is not too big, we recommend taking your time and looking at the ornamented houses, walking up to the vineyards, and seeing the stream that runs through Svaty Jur. Because Svaty Jur is a wine-making town, it is nice to see where the grapes are grown. You will also be able to have a wonderful view of Svaty Jur by walking through the dirt paths that surround the vineyards. There is also an observation deck overseeing the village.
Svaty Jur is situated in the hills rather than in the valley so there is a steady incline when going farther into town. If you decide to venture higher up the hill on Prostredna Street, you will see the Palffy mansion. The Palffy family is well-known in Slovakia since this family owned many properties in the country from the Middle Ages to more recent times. Seeing the mansion will give you the opportunity to see one of the many buildings this family owned.
ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH OF SAINT GEORGE
Even higher up is the Roman Catholic Church of Saint George. The church itself was built in the 13th century and has a sandstone alter from the 16th century. It is built in Gothic and Renaissance styles. This church property is also worth seeing because it has an original wooden bell tower with a bell inside dating to 1400.
HRAD BIELY KAMEN
If you are interested in exploring further, Svaty Jur’s castle, which is named Hrad Biely Kamen, is even higher up the hill. Hrad Biely Kamen, which translates as ‘White Stone Castle’ in English, is a ruin located above the main town of Svaty Jur. It can be found by taking a twenty minute hike on the yellow trail, which starts from Podhradie Street. This hike is not overly strenuous, but do be careful once you arrive at the castle. There are many paths interlaced within the structure and some are difficult to maneuver through. Although there is little remaining of Hrad Biely Kamen, you will be able to imagine what Svaty Jur might have been like during the Middle Ages by exploring this castle.
Hrad Biely Kamen was formerly called Jursky Hrad, which means ‘Jur’s Castle.’ The dukes of Svaty Jur and Pezinok, a nearby town, built the castle in the 13th century after the Tartars raided the area. The castle belonged to the dukes until their lineage died out in the middle of the 16th century. It then changed owners several times. After much debate and argument over the constant change of ownership, the town council took control of the castle at the end of the 16th century. In the middle of the 17th century, Svaty Jur was granted the title of free king’s city by King Ferdinand II so the castle became obsolete as a defensive structure. The city had to pay 22,400 l of wine a year to King Ferdinand II because he gave them this status. Since the castle became obsolete for defensive purposes, the Palffy family took ownership of Hrad Biely Kamen at this time. The Palffy family later moved to their own mansion near the center of Svaty Jur. In 1663, Hrad Biely Kamen was most likely destroyed during the Turkish raid. After this raid, there was no reason to repair Hrad Biely Kamen so it was left to fall into ruin.
Since Hrad Biely Kamen has been a ruin for about 350 years, most of the structure has succumbed to the elements. The castle is overgrown with only a few walls still remaining. Even though this castle has seen better days, it is still a nice place to hike to. You will have the chance to explore beyond the town of Svaty Jur and see what was once the most important structure for its inhabitants.
WINE & REFRESHMENTS
Once you have explored the castle and decide to head back down, there are various wine bars and cafes to go to for a refreshment, such as Cokokafe, Cafe Korzo, Vinarstvo Bognar a Vinoteka, and Renesancny Vinohradnicky Dom. We would also recommend picking up a bottle of wine from ViNOCENTRUM before heading home.
COKOCAFE AND RENESANCNY VINOHRADNICKY DOM
Cokokafe and Renesancny Vinohradnicky Dom are located within a renovated courtyard home on Horne predmestie Street. Cokokafe is a charming cafe that serve coffee, cakes, lemonades, and ice cream. The have seating indoors and outdoors and a children’s area with toys and games.
Renesancny Vinohradnicky Dom uses the larger section of the courtyard for its guests. If you are interested in seeing this 15th century winemaking home, you will need to book a wine tasting.
Then you will be able to see the traditional wine cellar and beautiful structural work in Gothic and Renaissance styles.
VISITING SVATY JUR
Whether you are viewing the town from the highway at night with all of its twinkling lights flowing up into the hills, from the vineyards that allow you to see all the way to Bratislava, or from the very center of town with the pastel-colored buildings and courtyard style homes, Svaty Jur is truly magical. It is a captured moment in time since many of the buildings are preserved and each one has something special about it. Make sure to take in all the little details since there are so many to find around the town. And remember, it is a place for everyone. There are many spots to have a glass of wine, go on a hiking adventure, have fun in the playground, or learn about the town’s history. The relaxing atmosphere of Svaty Jur will take you away from the city for a day and remind you to find the small pleasures in life. So sit back, relax, and enjoy that glass of wine!
Author: Kathryn Baurhenn
Photo Credits: Marek Švec and Kathryn Baurhenn