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Calvary

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The Calvary is one of the most beautiful sightseeing points in Nitra. In the past years this lime hill was known as the Mariánsky or Green (Zelený) hill. The inhabitants of Nitra called its east hillside as Magpie Hill (Stračí vrch) and its west slope Small Rock (Skalka). Since 1846 it was marked with the rock mining which was designated for building the road from Nitra to the railway station in Trnovec nad Váhom. In the half of 20th century caves have been accidentally found, but they aren´t open to public. The most well-known are the Cave on Magpie road (Jaskyňa v Stračej ceste) which is 50 m long and the Cave under the Calvary. They were researched by Dr. Juraj Bárta, Dezider Horvát and Ján Majko. From the top of Calvary, only 213 m above the sea level, which exceeds the surrounding terrain only by 80 m, is a beautiful round view on the town´s dominant features, Gallows Hill (Šibeničný vrch), the whole ridge of the Zobor Mountains from the Dražovce church through Zobor to Žibrica and Mount Kolíňanský. The distant ridges of Tribeč, Pohronský Inovec, Vtáčnik and Štiavnica Mounts can be seen on the northeast.

The Calvary is a small nature oasis with an unaffected and little disturbed vegetation situated in the densely populated town residential area of Nitra and it has a similar significance as Lupka or the Zoborská lesostep in the Zobor Mountains. The main area of the Calvary is covered with thermophilic and xerophilous plants which were used as pastures in the past years. In the border parts, the west border of the hill is mainly decorated with cliffs and crakcs and rubbles. The ground cover on the ridge by the Cross road (Krížová cesta) and in the surroundings of Calvary hill is broadly trampled and so destroyed by the visitors.

The steppe ground covers are rich in species. Dominant species are the xerophilous grasses. A very typical species for the Calvary is the alyssum montanum. It can be found only by the Calvary in the broad surroundings of Nitra. It is absent even in the similar locations of Zobor. It grows in the cracks of lime rocks. Other curiosities of the Calvary are not so visible but belong to the really rare species which are searched after and admired by botanists. To find a Radnor Lily which is registered in the Red list of the endangered species of Slovakia, you need much luck or the precise knowledge of its appearance and time of blooming. The botanist becomes an investigator and every discovery is an exciting experience.

Because of the Calvary´s distortions by the mining of lime in the local stone quarry and the dumps in the past, some of the rare species became extinct. The coronilla vaginalis, pulsatilla nigricans have been missing for some decades and the decorative grass chrysophogon gryllus too, but fortunately it can be found in Lupka.

How do we know that these species did grow in this area? We have information from old entries from the 19th century of botanist Knapp, who wrote about their appearance in the locality of Marienberg, which was the former name of the Calvary, in 1863.

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