Slavín Monument in Bratislava

This modern landmark of Bratislava, standing in the commemorative cemetery of the Red Army on the hill above the city, was built according to the design of architect Ján Svetlík in 1960. The main entrance to the grounds is through a broad boarding staircase. On its axis, three graded sections of the cemetery gradually open up, with the climax taking shape in the majestic monument. The sculptural decoration of the central section of the extensive grounds takes its subjects from the wartime and particularly from victory-celebrating motifs. It comes from the sculpture studios of Ladislav Snopko, Ján Kulich, Tibor Bártfay, Rudolf Pribiš and Alexander Trizuljak.

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Trenčín Castle

Trenčín Castle is the largest and one of the most picturesque and important castle complexes in Slovakia. Owing to its location on a steep limestone cliff, allowing control over a wide span of the surrounding area it has long been attractive for settlement. The oldest and at the same time the most dominant part of the castle – its large tower – dates from the 11th century.
Situated at the crossroads of long-distance routes, the rock on which Trenčín Castle is built has been inhabited since the Palaeolithic Age. The castle rock saw also Romans who carved an inscription on it in 179 CE in memory of a victory in battle. The inscription bears reference to a winter that the Romans spent in Laugaricio. The existence of a Slavic settlement here has also been documented by a quatrefoil rotunda dating from the 9th and 10th centuries which was found on the rock. Presumably it served as a princely church for castle lords according to the tradition of a Slav fortress.
Trenčín Castle functioned during the middle ages as the administrative centre of Trenčín County, and was one of the few stone castles in the Kingdom of Hungary to resist the Mongol invasion in 1241. It subsequently passed to the Cseszneky family and then between 1302 and 1321 became the seat of the powerful nobleman Matthew Csák, before reverting to the crown. In the early 14th century the Hungarian King Louis the Great fortified the structure and erected a new palace here. During the 16th century the castle was leased on numerous occasions by the crown, but in 1594 the ownership passed to the Illéšházy family, who retained the castle until 1790 when it was badly damaged by fire. Štefan Illéšházy II then sold the castle to Baron Sina, but neither he nor his descendents did anything to restore the building, and they eventually donated it to Trenčín town.
Efforts to restore the ruins in the first half of the 19th century proved insufficient and incompetent. Serious reconstruction involving an archaeological survey and proper project documentation only began in 1953 after the castle had been proclaimed a National Cultural Monument. Today Trenčín Castle is owned by Museum of Trenčín, which offers a selection of exhibitions in various parts of the castle, including the castle well, feudal justice, coat of arms of the castle owners, leaseholders and captains, and the historic arms of the collections of the Trenčín Museum.

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Poland

The Slovak community in Poland is in comparison with other Slovak minorities living abroad not created by expatriates. There we can speak about native inhabitants who used to live in the northern part of Spiš region and in the upper part of Orava. These areas were after the First World War and after the dissolution of the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy affiliated to Poland following border modifications between Czechoslovakia and Poland on 28 July, 1920.
Following the decision of the Council of Ambassadors 14 Slovak villages in Spiš and 12 in Orava were despite large objections incorporated in the state of Poland. Slovak ethnic groups lived here in severe existential conditions. In September 1939 the territories of north Spiš and upper Orava were returned to Slovakia but they were part of Slovakia only during the Slovak Republic of 1939-1945. In accordance with “Prague Protocol” of 20 May 1945 this area was again affiliated to Poland.
The after-war life in Poland did not shape easily. Those people who reported Slovak nationality became subjects of victimization and persecution.
It was not before 1951 when Polish authorities allowed the founding of the first Slovak grammar school in Jablonka. This school is the first and until today the only general secondary school in this area. The year 1957 was a breakthrough year in the stirred history of Polish Slovaks, when on the occasion of a congress of the Organization of Slovaks in Poland, where the Social and Cultural Society of Czechs and Slovaks in Poland led by Adam Chalupec was founded, a mimeo newsletter with the title Krajanský život (Compatriotic life) was issued and in June 1958 there appeared the first issue of Život (The Life) monthly in Warsaw. This magazine has been a cultural and literary organ of Slovaks in Poland for fifty years.
In 1989 the situation of Slovaks living in Poland changed. Nowadays local Slovaks have their own building and printing works in Krakow which enable them to deal with literary activities more vigorously, particularly on the pages of Život magazine. In 1995 the compatriotic association was reorganised and the Social and Cultural Society of Czechs and Slovaks in Poland changed into the Slovak Union in Poland.

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Before the concert (photo by Peter Procházka)

Development after November 1989

The development after November 1989 was full of political and social change. The totalitarian power fell, the transformation of the political-economic system in favour of market mechanism was in progress, private ownership returned and in 1993 the independent Slovak Republic rose. Changes in politics and economics were transferred into musical life. After the dissolution of central associations and institutions, there arose new art agencies, new clubs, communities or associations, radio and television companies, private music recording studios and music publishers, like mushrooms after the rain. Shortly after the Velvet Revolution the Slovak Jazz Society, the union of 12 authors and performers of popular music, as well as the Unions for professional musicians were established. Not all institutions and agencies, however, met the expectations of musicians in defending their common interests. Artistic agencies do not work correctly as well. General meetings of old and new institutions introduce democratic structure to a certain extent (e.g. SOZA in favour of popular music), but there is still the chance to improve things. Financial subsidies to state organizations and institutions are largely reduced and they are not always fairly distributed, which numbs the current method of how culture can exist in the territory of this state. Modern wealthy businessmen have not reached the level of becoming the sponsors of high quality art and science. Not all editors, subeditors and cultural workers are ready to accept the market effect of economic relations. On the other hand, the freedom of artistic expression, speech and entrepreneurship gives enough space for actionable people who prefer this political and economic climate. The names and addresses of music publishers, studios and organizations and also a rich list of active musicians with their production of all styles can be easily found on different websites (Music Centre, Wikipedia, You Tube and others).
In this market environment the development of popular music did not stop, on the contrary, it reached high dynamics. Radio and television stations present “top rankings” of popular songs, there are many CDs and audio cassettes published, from those of high quality up to those having just the value of kitsch art. We can notice the inclination to commercialism which appears as a result of market relations. Not very demanding music, limited in genres, is broadcast by media such as TV Nova, Markíza, Prima, Fun Radio, Rock FM Radio, Radio Koliba, Radio O. K. and others. Not much attention is paid to minority genres like jazz, alternative and avant-garde music, as well as classical music. Uniformity in style generates a further decline in the general culture and it discourages more advanced recipients from a regular following of the media. On the other hand, free entrepreneurship brings unprecedented development. Some art agencies organise tours of jazz and rock bands to the whole Europe and overseas. Jazz and rock musicians broaden their educational horizons at Berklee College in Boston and in Graz (J. Burian, M. Jakabcic, H. Toth). In international formations world-famous jazz personalities perform together with Slovak musicians (A. Ciaccia, L. Konitz, Ch. Marian L. Smith, T. Stanko, M. Stern, J. Stivin and many others). The concert activity at festivals and in clubs has grown so that it is difficult to map. Jazz activities have developed proportionally in all cities. The most important festivals include Bratislava Jazz Days, Jazz Gremium Festival and Pet Jazz in Bratislava, Košice Jazz Festival, Slovak Jazz Festival in Žilina, Jazz Prešov, Jazz Fest Bardejov, Trenčín Jazz Festival and others. Various clubs and smaller bars offer their premises for jazz performances (Klub Čierny havran – Black Raven Club, restaurant U Liszta in Bratislava, Cassovia Jazz Club, M klub in Košice, Marioneta Jazz Club in Žilina, Tatra club in Nitra, S-klub in Levice, Národný dom – National House, Smädný mních – Thirsty Monk and Irish Pub in Banská Bystrica and others). Here perform the most important jazz personalities in Slovakia (pianists: P. Adamkovic, M. Bihari, P. Bodnar, P. Breiner, A. Danyi, G. Jonas, J. Hajnal, E. Gnoth, K. Kovac, O. Krajňák, M. Menšík, P. Prieložník, K. Seidmann, M. Škuta, J. Tatar and A. Vagner; guitarists: J. Burian, M. Jakabcic, A. Kellenberger, S. Pocaji, A. Seban and M. Zeleznak; bassists: J. Brisuda, F. Freso, M. Gaspar, J. Griglák, A. Jaro, J. Kalász, V. Kratochvila, M. Marincak, R. Ragan and A. Sebo; drummers: M. Buntaj, J. Dome, J. Fabricky, E. Fratrik, J. Rozsival, M. Ruček, P. Solarik, M. Sevcik, J. Skvaril, J. Sosoka and C. Zelenak; saxophonists and clarinetists: S. Ceman, D. Huscava, V. Chochol, I. Kaduc, J. Krajcovic, J. Pondelik, M. Popradi, P. Rucek, M. Suchomel, V. Skrabala, L. Tamaskovic and R. Tariska; trumpeters: J. Bartos, M. Durdina, O. Jurasi, J. Karvas, J. Lehotsky, J. Polak and L. Priehradnik; trombonists: F. Karnok, M. Motyl, V. Ondruska and V. Vizar; singers: B. Balogh, A. Bartosova, R. Hajnalova, I. Heller, G. Huscavova, S. Josifoska, J. Kocianova, D. Libiakova, P. Lipa, J. Orlicka and G. Sustekova, as well as conductors: M. Belorid, B. Trnecka, V. Valovic, P . Zajacek and others.
In the last decade of the 20th century other specific genres have received some space: classic blues, R&B, folk, country and various rock styles (e.g. metal and cantilena rock) which partially moves the attention of the listener from mainstream popular music. Blue grass and C&W can be heard each year at the Trnava Dobrofest where its visitors always remember the legendary inventor of the guitar “dobro” the native of Trnava Jan Dopjera. “The new spiritual song” in the style sacra scores especially in the religiously oriented programmes and media (such as TV Lux). There is a much greater differentiation than in previous periods. A lot of discs and notes appear on the shelves. They had previously been literally unavailable or undercounter matter. Despite this positive indicator in the media and theatre dramaturgy, the artistically average and low “hit production” mostly by foreign authors, has received a disproportionate space which contradicts the healthy growth of artistic background among the younger generation.

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Arrival of Alexander Dubček to Bratislava (photo by Peter Procházka)

Post-war Slovakia 1945-1989

After 1945, politicians and members of the resistance returned from overseas, while groups of pro-fascist intellectuals and politicians emigrated. Germans were resettled, Magyars were discriminated against up to 1948, and thousands of citizens of Slovakia were deported to the Soviet Union. Post-war Czechoslovakia found itself in the Soviet sphere of influence. Its political system is usually referred to as a ‘limited democracy’, in which few political parties, nationwide or Slovak social organisations and the National Front were allowed to operate. However this lasted for a short period of time.
The communists in the Czech lands and the Democratic Party in Slovakia won the parliamentary elections in 1946. In the summer of 1947 the government, under the pressure of Moscow, rejected economic assistance in the form of the Marshall Plan. Shortly afterwards, the communists took advantage of radical post-war moods; they acquired significant offices and rallied masses of unsatisfied people to the streets, and in February 1948 they implemented a coup d’etat which gave them power that they would not relinquish for the next 40 years.
The new totalitarian regime with its Communist Party control, many incapable officials and materialistic ideology controlled practically everything. It liquidated civil rights, independent institutions and thinking, elections became only a formality, and in the name of the ideal society, traditions were demolished and inhuman forms of expression unleashed. Stalinist centralism practically liquidated all elements of the autonomous status of Slovakia. It cruelly persecuted not only its political opponents but also farmers, officials, intellectuals, church officials and communists themselves. Trumped up trials and personal purges whipped up an atmosphere of fear. Czechoslovakia became absolutely dependant on the Soviet Union; it mechanically took over all aspects of its life which was, frequently tragically. Practically all production capacities were nationalised and farmers were forced to enter the agricultural co-operatives. Large enterprises, especially in heavy industry, were eagerly built, although they were inappropriate for the conditions of small Slovakia. Towns grew rapidly, at the cost of tasteless prefabricated buildings and the liquidation of historical centres. The healthcare, educational and cultural infrastructure were completed (including for example the Slovak National Gallery, the Slovak Philharmonic, the art school system and a number of museums). For the first time these areas were also accessible to the lower social layers. National minorities received fair national rights.
In the 1960s the Communist dictatorship ‘softened’. Stalin’s violence was criticised and methods were sought to harmonise socialism with democracy and freedom. The democratisation process, embodied particularly in the highest political official Alexander Dubcek, peaked in 1968. Censorship was lifted, small private businesses were permitted, new organisations sprung up spontaneously and the market was expected to play a certain role in the centrally-managed economy. However, in August 1968, before the features of ‘socialism with a human face’ could be displayed, the armies of the Warsaw Pact occupied Czechoslovakia. The Soviet army was to remain until 1991.
In the 1960s, the push for a dignified state legal status of Slovakia was equally strong. In October 1968, Czechoslovakia was officially changed into the federative state of two national republics – Slovak and Czech. However, due to the normalisation regime headed by Gustav Husák, this federation existed only symbolically.
Although Husák’s regime was substantially more moderate than the Stalinism of the 1950s, it renewed strong centralism, demanded unity and obedience and discriminated against and persecuted tens of thousands of people. Approximately 200,000 Czechs and Slovaks emigrated.
Although Slovakia recorded economic and social growth during this period, the competitiveness of the Czechoslovak economy slowed, and it lagged behind that of the developed world. Moreover, Czechoslovakia’s international isolation was significant. The environment in the country was deteriorating, offices were ineffective, services did not meet needs, and corruption and ‘cronyism’ became part of everyday life. Social communication was reduced to empty phrases.
In this ‘grey’ atmosphere, groups of dissidents, ecologists, church activists and artists criticised the freedom-less situation and rallied for civil rights. Dissatisfaction with unfree and unfair conditions in the country and a sense of lack, however, spread across all social layers. The protest events took place in public, especially in Prague. In Slovakia, the ‘candle manifestation’ of March 1988 in Bratislava was the largest public protest for religious and civil freedom. The ‘more enlightened’ Communists and state officials were aware of the necessity of reforms, especially after Mikhail Gorbachov came to power in the Soviet Union. In November 1989, under the influence of mass protests throughout Czechoslovakia, the ineffective and tired Communist regime fell. The deadened society began to spring into life.

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Bojnice Castle (photo by Peter Fratrič)

Diversity of Styles and Building Types in the 19th Century

New building types in Slovakia emerged already at the beginning of the 19th century. However, the real building boom started in the second half of the century, when Slovakia became the most industrial part of the Kingdom of Hungary. New buildings appeared due to long periods of peace and because of the increasing investment activities of the bourgeoisie, townspeople and the state administration. During this period, modernisation of Slovak towns continued. The last remains of town fortifications were disappearing. Infrastructure in the towns began to develop – sewer systems, water pipes, street lighting – as well as public buildings – redoubts, theatres and hospitals. Development of railway transportation encouraged construction of railway stations’ networks. These buildings especially drew inspiration from historic Renaissance architecture. However, they did not just copy the Renaissance style; they were more like imitations with Baroque and Classical motives. The Jonáš Záborský Theatre in Prešov (M. Repaszký, 1881) and the Town Theatre in Levoča (Müller, 1883) were built as neo-Renaissance palaces. Modest Renaissance architecture was also used for the first railway station in Bratislava designed by well-known local architect Ignác Feigler Jr. (1871). Even the first architect of Slovak origin, Ján Nepomuk Bobula, was inspired by a Renaissance palace when designing the first building of the Matica Slovenská (1864) – the scientific and cultural institution focusing on topics of the Slovak nation. The large town theatres in Trnava (B. Grünn, 1831), in Bratislava (F. Fellner, H. Hellmer, 1886), and in Košice (A. Lang, A. Steinhardt, 1899) used rich Baroque forms. The theatre in Bratislava built at the site of the original classical building by Matthias Walch was designed by Fellner & Helmer – one of the most important architecture studios in the then monarchy. These architects designed many theatre buildings in the former Austria-Hungary. Almost three decades later, another important city building was built in the same neo-baroque style, the redoubt Reduta (1913), located near the city theatre. It was designed by equally famous architects from Budapest – Dezider Jakab and Marcel Komor. It looked like a historical building on the outside; however, its structure was modern.
In 1810, in the ironworks in Hronec, cast iron was used as a building construction material for the first time in the Kingdom of Hungary. The discovery of cast iron as a construction material also encouraged the building boom. Cast-iron structures were initially used to build bridges. Later, cast iron appeared in the form of columns or beams in industrial buildings, as well as in public buildings, when a bigger space with reduced supports was required. Ignác Feigler Jr. used cast-iron columns when building a two-storey female gallery in the former orthodox synagogue in Bratislava (1864); and Blažej Bulla used them in the interior of the evangelical church in Dolný Kubín (1894). However, in the first decade of the 20th century cast iron was substituted by another novelty – reinforced concrete. The first company using it in Slovakia was the Pittel & Brausewetter company from Bratislava.
In the 19th century, a new type of building emerged in Slovakia – a block of flats. It was mostly a two or a three-storey building with a court. Larger flats accessible from the main staircase and facing the street were typically located on the first or on the second floor. Small flats were to be entered from the access balcony and they were placed on higher floors, or in the court wings of the building. The first examples of blocks of flats were designed by Ignác Feigler Sr. in Bratislava. His son Ignác Feigler Jr. successfully followed in his father’s footsteps, and Alexander Feigler – the last active architect in this dynasty – also designed and built blocks of flats. These buildings can be found around Laurinská Street, Štefánikova Street and Palisády Street. Apart from blocks of flats which were designed as historic palaces, the first houses for factory workers were built in towns and near manufacturing plants in the 19th century. These were mostly simple two-bay houses with one-room flats. There was either a corridor or an access balcony to the flats. An example of such early social housing was Schulpeho kolónia in Bratislava, built in 1894 on the initiative of a local philanthropist.
In connection with one of the most important works of Gothic architecture in Slovakia – St. Elizabeth‘s Cathedral in Košice – we mentioned the interest in historic buildings that emerged in the Kingdom of Hungary in the 19th century. At that time, the Hungarian science of art focused on the monuments of Medieval Upper Hungary. The fondness for medieval architectural forms came mostly from the influence of Romanticism that got to the Kingdom of Hungary from England and France. The Romantic admiration of medieval castles encouraged the reconstruction of many castles and mansions. Romantic rebuilding of Bojnice Castle that took place from 1890 to 1910 was the most majestic one. It was initiated by Count Ján František Pálfi – an art collector of noble birth and the last owner of the castle. During the renovation of the castle, crenellations were added to the castle walls, the dominant neo-Gothic tower was completed, a big hall with a Gothic vault was built and the chapel and the count’s flat were reconstructed. The construction works were carried out according to the design of Jozef Hubert (1846 – 1916), an architect from Bratislava, as well as the detailed instructions from the count, who had a clear vision of his residence.
Elements of Gothic architecture were also used in sacred and sepulchral architecture – e.g. a wonderful architectural miniature in the form of the Mausoleum of the Andrássy family in Trebišov (A. Meining, 1893), the Calvinist church in Lučenec (designed probably by F. Wieser, 1854), or the three-nave basilican Blumental chuch in Bratislava (F. Rumpelmayer, 1888).
Interest in history as such and in the history of art, the admiration of exotic cultures, and the search for original forms of some building types were reflected in the construction of the Chinese pavilions and Turkish baths as well as Oriental-style synagogues built in our territory in the second half of the 19th century. Synagogues with a horizontal stripe pattern on the facade, compound arched windows and two towers on the front facade were typical of this period. The most valuable and preserved synagogue of this type is the Neolog synagogue in Malacky (W. Stiassny, 1886). The construction of synagogues in Slovakia inspired by the Moorish and Oriental patterns was crowned at the beginning of the 20th century with the works of Lipót Baumhorn (1860 – 1932), the most significant European architect of the Jewish sacred architecture. Monumental Neolog synagogues in Nitra (1911) and in Lučenec (1926) were built according to his design. While the Jewish environment was deliberately oriented towards the Moorish style that is considered original in relation to the construction of synagogues, Slovak Evangelicals only seldom drew inspiration from the Eastern building tradition. A great example of how unique this influence is can be seen in the New Evangelical Church in Kežmarok (1909), designed by the outstanding Viennese architect Theophil Hansen. When we are talking about exotic spa architecture, the most beautiful example is the Turkish bath Hamam in Trenčianske Teplice (F. Schmoranz, 1888).

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Master Pavol of Levoča: Holy Trinity from Poloma (Trone of grace), around 1520 (source by The Slovak National Gallery Collections, http://www.webumenia.sk/dielo/SVK:SNG.P_2262)

Sculpture

by Katarína Bičanová

Work with materials (in a 3D space) is one of the oldest expressions of human creativity and thus the long history of Slovak territory is well documented through interesting excavations of plastic art objects and, later on, through sculptures which were directly related to the historical development of various state formations with their diverse cultural influences. Like other Slovak visual art genres, the art of making sculpture acquired a specific national character as late as the 20th century. Noteworthy are also its associations with current world arts tendencies from the 1960s until today.

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Medieval painting (photo by Peter Fratrič)

Historical background

by Martina Orosová

Slovakia lies in the heart of Europe. The geographical centre of the continent is actually situated near to the village of Kremnické Bane. The geographical location of Slovakia on the crossing of significant arterial roads as well as favourable natural conditions and available mineral deposits represent the factors that have affected the development of Slovakia in every historical period. Different ethnic groups and cultures that have met here from all sides of the world have been mutually mixed and transformed and, affected by the domestic element and they have created an independent culture whose conquests have been preserved up to the present day. Even though the size and extent of its population ranks Slovakia among the smaller countries in Europe, its cultural heritage is characterised by exceptional wealth, antiquity, diversity and quality. In terms of their dates of origin, the preserved monuments and historical sites go back to the oldest times of cultural Europe; times when the continent was being settled and European nations were being formed.

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Selected statistical data on museums in Slovakia 2011-2014

Museums network by founders 2011-2014
Year Total State Regional
government
Municipal
government
Other
2011 100 39 35 17 9
2012 102 40 34 19 9
2013 106 40 36 20 10
2014 111 33 35 21 12
Year Acquired number
of pieces
Registered
collection pieces –
number of pieces
Attendance
2011 56 607 15 828 385 4 239 947
2012 74 077 15 885 796 4 409 577
2013 69 268 16 200 434 4 327 991
2014 102 323 16 332 984 4 211 355

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Greek Catholic Wooden Church of the Holy Mother of God the Protector in Miroľa

Wooden temples of Eastern ceremony Greek Orthodox temples and evangelical preacher´s temples built in the northeast of Slovakia form a richest group of wooden small churches in Slovakia.  Their form in three parts is a characteristic feature of wooden small churches in this area, i. e. an entry part, temple (main) nave and altar part what, at the same time, symbolizes the Holy Trinity. A triplexity of space is emphasized in many cases by a trinity of increasing towers westward and outwardly. Precious icons decorated with paintings of eastern ceremony and set into iconostases, which separate the temple nave from the altar part, are the most valuable part of wooden church interiors.
The Greek Orthodox wooden church of Protection of the Holy Mother of God in Miroľa is from 1770. It stands on the eastern slope of village in which it is a dominant construction. A typical three-part and three-tower log cabin object is cladded from outside with wainscoted formwork owing to it the nave and entry part give the impression of one room. Both the towers and stepped rectangular domes over the sanctuary also nave are terminated with small balloons, with blind tambours and crosses. The roof of object and the towers are covered with shingle. The log cabin and the upper part of tower are protected by vertically laid plates and strips/bars. In front of the object there is a wooden entry small gate with an octahedral low small roof covered with shingle.
The interior furnishings are in original state, the iconostasis is solved-out precisely according to iconographic principles. That is, that the polychrome architecture of 18 th century is in four rows with icons and tsarist door. The upper rows of icons are newer, from the end of 18 th century.

Heritage > National cultural monuments > Wooden Churches of Eastern Slovakia

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