It may be five hours from Bratislava to Prešov by motorway; we never really tested that proposition. What we can say is that it was nearly eleven hours from Bratislava to Prešov Sts. Cyril and Methodius by national highways with sightseeing stops in the ancient cities of Nitra and Levoca. So we had a long but interesting day.
Nitra, our first stop, is a very old town. The Principality of Nitra is the oldest known proto-Slovak state, which existed before the Great Moravian Empire, to which it belonged from 833 to 920. There is an annual festival, 1-5 July, celebrating the origins of Slovakia in Nitra. It was here that Saints Cyril and Methodius worked transcribing the scriptures into Slovak and established the first bishopric. Thus Nitra can be regarded as View of Nitra from the Hrad the birthplace of Slavic Christianity.
We only had time for a short stop, but climbed the castle hill and admired the views over the city. The castle gate is inscribed with the names of Leopold, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Hungary, and Thomas Palfy, Chancellor of Hungary, dated 1673. We took our pictures in front of the excellent bronze statue of Cyril and Methodius, and found a store selling "Suveniry" where we purchased some keepsake books.
Two hours had passed in Nitra, after which we had a long drive through light rain, running into one cul-de-sac and one long mountain road with many construction delays. But 16th century Town Hall, Levoca we stopped in another important tourist destination, the walled city of Levoca. Once a royal town and a wealthy center of trade, Levoca was bypassed by the railway and fell into disrepair in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Late in the afternoon, there was plenty of parking around the beautiful town square, and we walked around admiring the buildings and churches, including the first "Evangelical" (Lutheran) church we had seen in Slovakia. The most intriguing item was a large metal structure near the old town hall, a beehive-shaped cage. This, according to the signs in Slovak, German and English, was the "shaming cage", used for the punishment of minor criminals Shaming Cage, Levoca in the 18th century.
We drove around and admired the old city walls before continuing on to Prešov. Searching for the Hotel Dukla in the dark, our two cars were separated, giving us the opportunity for much kidding about which group of two travelers located the hotel first. Neither party would reveal how many strangers were stopped and questions asked!
As it turned out, we didn't stay at the Dukla as long as we had first intended. It was undergoing renovation, and had no hotel parking; instead we had to make use of a municipal parking lot with a full-time attendant. While highly secure, we found the parking rate of 25 SKK per hour, 24 hours a day, cash only, too steep, and this led to our finding a superior hotel the next day, as we began our genealogical inquiries.