The town of Trenčín (that’s pronounced trenchin), in western Slovakia, is renowned for a single piece of Roman graffiti carved into the base of one of its cliffs. The graffiti, also known as the Roman Inscription, is dated 179 CE, and it marks the victory in battle of the Romans over the Germanic tribes of Marcomanni (the inscription, if you wish to see it, is enclosed with the grounds of Hotel Elisabeth).
Trenčín, thanks to the Roman Inscription, was long thought to be the northernmost reach of the Roman Empire in Central Europe (until a little Roman fort was discovered in Mušov, in the Czech Republic, just north ofTrenčín).
The town of Trenčín came into being during the reign of the Great Moravian Empire, a Central European Slavonic state which formed and flourished in the 9th and 10th Centuries – it was called the Great Moravian Empire because it was based around the Morava River (the lower part of which forms the border between the Czech Republic and Slovakia).
Trenčín Castle, which dates back to the 11th Century CE, was built to watch over the Váh River valley, and to help defend the mountain passes of the White Carpathians (the mountain range – part of the Carpathians – that sits on the border of Slovakia and the Czech Republic).
Trenčín Castle is the third largest castle in Slovakia (the largest is Spiš Castle), and because it was made of stone, and positioned on a defensible rocky outcrop, it ended up being one of the few places in the Kingdom of Hungary – Slovakia was contained within the Kingdom of Hungary at the time – to withstand the 1241 CE invasion by the Mongol Empire, led by Batu Khan (founder of the Golden Horde and grandson of Genghis Khan).
The Mongol invasion left the Kingdom of Hungary in ruins. Up to quarter of its population were killed in the attack.
Things eventually settled down – following many more wars and invasions over the ensuing centuries – allowing Trenčín to develop into the peaceful, charming, humble town that it is today.
It remains relatively un-touristed (apart from Czech/Hungarian/Slovakian tourists), to the point that locals will stop to look at you curiously when you pull your out camera to take a snap.
Trenčín lies on the main Slovak rail-line, about half way between the capital, Bratislava, and Žilina. It’s an easy daytrip from either city.