Slovak Paradise National Park
The Slovak Paradise is a unique mountain karst formation located in the eastern part of Slovakia. Its total area is 19,763 hectares and the most strictly protected area has 13,011 hectares. The landscape comprises plateaus, deep gorges and canyons as well as other karst formations, e.g. sinkholes, cliffs, rock pillars and caves.
Dobšinská ľadová jaskyňa (ice cave) is the most well-known cave, listed as UNESCO natural world heritage site. The national park also boasts with the largest cave system in Slovakia – Stratenská jaskyňa.
The Slovak paradise got the status of a national park on January 18th, 1988, and spreads out in the counties of Spišská Nová Ves, Poprad, Rožňava, and Brezno. The first attempts to award the area the status of national park emerged in late 1920s. The first important step of this effort was a ban on timber harvesting in 1931, which can be regarded as the first legislative act of protection of this area. In 1964, the territory was claimed a protected landscape reserve as the first area in Slovakia.
History of tourism in the Slovak paradise
The history of tourism in the Slovak paradise goes back to the second half of 19th century, after the discovery of Dobšinská ľadová jaskyňa in the southern part of the area (in 1870 by Eugen Ruffinyi and his partners).
The first marked tourist trails in the southern part of the Slovak paradise lead to Dobšinská ľadová jaskyňa and Občasný prameň (spring). The attractiveness of the northern part of the Slovak paradise rose significantly after the completion of the railway track from Košice to Bohumín. The first tourist shack was built in 1889 at Tomášovský výhľad (cliff). The oldest tracks run to Kláštorisko, Glac, and along the right bank of the river Hornád.
The first recorded walk along the Veľký Sokol gorge took place in 1898 (Róth M., Filarszky N., Karoliny M.).
Territorial division of the Slovak paradise
11 national natural reserves:
Kyseľ, Piecky, Sokol, Suchá Belá, Prielom Hornádu (gulley), Tri kopce, Holý kameň, Hnilecká jelšina, Statená, Vernárska tiesňava (gorge), and Zejmarská roklina (canyon).
9 natural reserves:
Čingovské hradisko, Kocúrová, Malé Zajfy, Ostrá skala, Vyšná Roveň, Barbolica, Mokrá, Muráň, Havrania skala.
4 natural monuments
Hranovnické pleso (loch), Čertova diera, Medvedia jaskyňa (cave), Občasný prameň (spring).
1 protected area:
1 national natural monument
Dobšinská ľadová jaskyňa (cave).