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Námestie Majstra Pavla from Levoča, Slovakia

Levoča, called Leutschau in German and Lőcse in Hungarian, was the capital of the historical region of Spiš and features one of the largest squares in Central Europe. It is almost unchanged, with only one or two modern intrusions, bounded by 50 old houses, a few of them with painted façades. At the centre of the rectangular square, which reproduces on a smaller scale the proportions and shape of the still walled burg, one finds the church of Saint Jacob, with the highest wooden carved altar in the world. Made in the late Gothic style, this is the work of a talented and mysterious craftsman named Paul, of whom almost all information was lost during the fire which destroyed the town’s archives in 1550. But the square nonetheless bears his name today. The Majstra Pavla Square also holds the building of the City Hall and its arches, remade after the fire in 1550, one of the best examples of Renaissance lay architecture in Slovakia. Aside from this one finds the 16th century cage of shame, where the guilty were locked up in order to be displayed before the community.