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Spiš (Hungarian: Szepes, German: Zips) is a historic region in north-east Slovakia near the Polish border. A small portion of the historic Hungarian Szepes county is on the Polish side.
Traditionally, the region is divided into:
- Lower-Spiš ((sk)Dolný Spiš), corresponding to districts of Spišská Nová Ves and Gelnica,
- Middle-Spiš ((sk)Stredný Spiš) corresponding to districts of Levoča, Poprad and a big part of Kežmarok district,
- Upper-Spiš ((sk)Horný Spiš) corresponding to districts of Stará Ľubovňa and north-west of Kežmarok disctrict called Zamagurie.
Towns and cities
Spišská Nová VesEntrance of Slovak Paradise National Park.
KežmarokHistoric germanic city (Käsmark) known for its baroque church and castle at the feet of High Tatras
LevočaA well-preserved city center on the list of UNESCO World Heritage list.
PopradAt the feet of Tatra National Park, it's the entrance to High Tatras.
Spišské PodhradieWith the nearby Spiš Castle - one of the largest castles in Europe, which for many centuries was the major centre of power in the region. A fortified monastery Spišská Kapitula. Listed in UNESCO.
ŽdiarA town in Tatras, with original folk traditions and ethnographic museum.
Stará ĽubovňaA castle and an open-air museum
- The Gothic Church at Zehra is also in UNESCO World Heritage List
- Tatra National Park
- Pieniny National Park
- Slovak Paradise National Park
Whilst historically the major languages of the region were Hungarian and German, today Slovak is spoken throughout. The Spis region has a notable presence of minorities: Gypsies, Rusyn-Ukrainians, and Gorals. These often keep their languages and traditions alive in their own separate villages. Until the Second World War there were also large German and Jewish populations; the latter were deported to their deaths in German camps by the Slovak puppet government during World War II, (mostly by train from Poprad station), and the Germans were largely expelled after the war.
Poprad is the biggest city in Spiš. It has its own airport (the most elevated one in Europe) as well as a railway station. Trains connect Poprad with Bratislava in the west as well as with Košice in the east.