Population: 14,366

Nearest urban centre: Spišská Nová Ves (11km)

Levoča is one of those towns that refers to itself as a crossroads. In fact, during the Middle Ages it simply lay on the main Hungary-Poland road (there wasn’t an east-west route to “cross” it), and for years battled (quite literally) with Kežmarok further to the north for control of the commerce that flowed along it.

The reason people go to Levoča is to see the works of its most famous son: Master Pavol, the medieval artist who carved some of the best-known gothic altars in the country.

His masterpiece is the 18.6-metre-high gothic altar in Levoča’s Sv. Jakub (St. James) church, the highest altar of its kind in the world. It’s so famous, one of its central figures – a statue of the Madonna – is pictured on Slovakia’s 100-crown bills.

But even if you don’t get a look at Master Paul’s work, there’s still plenty to admire in Levoča, and the number of historical buildings that have been preserved is a welcome byproduct of the town’s slow movement to the economic periphery. The old town walls are largely intact, and make for a fascinating walk, past monasteries and museums and the stunning evangelical secondary school, with the paneláky of the newer town tenements far below.