Slovakia’s rich and diverse architectural heritage ranges from Roman forts to Gothic churches, medieval castles, Renaissance and Baroque mansions, rustic farmhouses and water mills. This physical heritage is complemented by a network of over 500 museums of various kinds.
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Slovakia has been an independent country since 1 January 1993 when it came into existence following the split of the former Czech and Slovak Federative Republic (ČSFR). Its accession to the European Union in 2004 saw the culmination of democratic changes in the country, ensuring its position among the ranks of democratic European states.
Traditional folk culture
by Barbora Morongová
The traditional folk culture of Slovakia constitutes a rich treasury of unique and original cultural phenomena and manifestations, which were created and experienced mainly in rural areas and passed down from generation to generation orally. In this treasury there are represented various customs and ceremonies linked to the different parts of life and calendar; traditional folk songs, music, dance, theatre, tales, proverbs, sayings, crafts, clothing, food, building, architecture, and many other tangible and intangible manifestations, which have their distinctive atmosphere in each location and region.
Traditional folkloric culture comprises the sum of the material and non-material products of human activity created in traditional communities and connected with the social layers called folk, which in Slovakia were constituted especially by farmers, workers and other non-privileged social strata. It was passed down from generation to generation orally, usually by imitation, and less frequently in written form. It was significantly affected by the country’s agrarian character. The traditional folk culture as an integral and living system gradually declined with the modernisation of society; however several of its features became sources of cultural and social identity and are preserved as manifestations of local, regional or national cultural heritage.
From the factual point of view traditional folk culture is divided into material and non-material culture, part of which is the folklore.
Visual arts traditions in Slovakia reach far into the past. In the course of centuries the visual expression of our ancestors was combined with the crafting excellence of artists from foreign countries. These traditions blossomed into the suggestive expression of the Gothic, the pompous magnificence of the Baroque, but mostly into the awakening national consciousness of the 19th century which was accompanied by an interest in Classicism, Romanticism, Historicism and Realism. The interwar period brought a great shift forward, paving the way for developments in the late 1960s when, thanks to some outstanding people, the visual arts in Slovakia reached a European standard.
When Slovak spirits were freed from barriers and the borders with Europe and the world were opened, there arose a great opportunity for Slovak visual artists, not only to receive motivation from outside, but also to present the values of Slovak visual arts abroad. The current picture of Slovak visual arts development is one of overlapping efforts by some generations and by numerous opinion orientations embracing the whole spectrum from classical tendencies to intermedia subjects and processes that make use of computers and video appliances. Visual happening is supported by various artistic and professional organisations, interest associations and state, regional, municipal and private galleries as well as other devoted individuals, artists and lovers of this form of artistic expression.
by prof. Henrieta Moravčíková
The majority of visitors perceive Slovakia as a country of castles dominating the mountain ridges alongside the former trade routes or on the borders of historical kingdoms which possessed this land in the past. It’s nothing to be surprised at. After all, the organic structures of these fortifications line most of the roads to this day, dominate numerous settlements and rank among the most important monuments. Some of them – e.g. Bratislava Castle, Spiš Castle or Trenčín Castle – have made Slovakia famous internationally. However, valuable architectural works in the territory of Slovakia are much more heterogeneous than just the aforementioned fortifications from the Middle Ages. The variety of styles is the trademark of Slovak architectural heritage. In a relatively small territory, a visitor can find not just the oldest monuments in the form of Roman or ancient Slavic remains of buildings and Gothic or Baroque masterpieces, but also some extraordinary works of twentieth -century modern architecture. The distinctive feature of these works is that they are not concentrated in one place, because they were built in particular parts of the country that were prospering during a particular period. This is why the most magnificent works of the Middle Ages emerged in the northern parts of Slovakia, in the territory of towns of the Spiš region (henceforth referred to as “Spiš towns”), while the most valuable Baroque or Modern architectural works can be found in the western parts of the country. Slovak architectural heritage is also very distinctive as it emerged on the eastern border of Central Europe under the influence of various cultural centres and value systems affecting Slovakia both alternately and simultaneously depending on the specific time period.
by Dr Martin Šmatlák
Slovak cinematography is an inseparable part of both the Slovak national culture and the European audiovisual context. Its outcomes and creative power only confirm this, despite the fact that the production and technological conditions for film work in Slovakia have not always been optimal. Throughout its existence in the 20th century, Slovak film was also influenced by the fact that since the beginning of continuous film-making and production it operated under the conditions of a state monopoly or under the distinctive control and influence of the state and political authorities. That is why today Slovak audiovisual culture must continue to search for a financial solution and system which will ensure its continuous existence in the market economy and guarantee its sustainable development with the support of public finances and the free creative competition of new content.
After nearly seven decades since the beginning of systematic film production in Slovakia, more than 40 years after the most creative period of Slovak film and after a quarter-century of change in the social and economic regime, Slovak film, despite several historical changes, has considerable creative potential, which can grow in the new conditions of the Slovak cultural and economic context and enter successfully into the international scene.
After creating a stable financial, legal, educational and institutional background of the Slovak audiovisual for its further development, what will be important is the gradual improvement of the technological infrastructure, the implementation of other financial mechanisms and proactive presentations of the achievements in the Slovak and European cultural context.
Slovak literature in the course of more than one thousand years of its complex history has passed through various forms of existence.
The media is an important part of social and cultural life. Through print media – periodicals, auditory media – radio, audio-visual – television, they fulfill in Slovakia these basic functions. They are informational, educational, cultural and relaxing. In addition, they have a significant impact on public opinion.