Kláštorisko – Letanovce, Slovakia - Atlas Obscura


Letanovce, Slovakia

The ruins of a 13th-century monastery that long served as a place of refuge from wars and raids. 


For centuries, the ruins of a medieval Carthusian monastery were hidden under the grass and trees at what is now Kláštorisko, an archeological park within the Slovak Paradise mountains. The remaining stone structures and walls were once part of a sanctuary perfectly defined by its Latin name, “Lapis Refugii,” or “Rock of Refuge.”

Located on a rocky plateau surrounded by deep gorges and canyons, the site was used as a shelter for local people in many dangerous situations over the centuries, such as wars, raids or epidemics. It lent the national park its name, “raj,” meaning “paradise.”

In the 13th century, the sanctuary protected the inhabitants of Spiša during the devastating raids by the Tatars. Hundreds of locals managed to survive by escaping to Kláštorisko. Following this event, Carthusian monks built a monastery there, founded in 1299. But the plateau was likely used as a safe haven long before that. Archeologists found that the site was already settled and fortified in the pre-Christian era, and believe it may have served as a refuge from the very beginning.

The remains of the monastery have been renovated in recent years by groups of volunteers. It is now the site of one of the main tourist centers of the national park. Near the ruins, you can also visit a newly built symbolic cemetery dedicated to those who tragically died in the Slovak Paradise, and also to those who contributed to the development of the park. It is decorated with several interesting wooden statues carved by local artists.

Know Before You Go

Kláštorisko is at the crossroads of several tourist trails within the park. You can get there from tourist centers Čingov, Podlesok or either Letanovský mlyn. It is not a very difficult nor long hike from any of them, but be prepared for a rather steep ascent and descent. For more information visit the center at Čingov or Podlesok, or contact info@raj-spis.sk.

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March 6, 2018

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