Folk architecture

Slovak folk culture which originated in a country environment is exceptionally well and amply preserved. Its material and spiritual values, which link old pagan and Christian traditions in an interesting way, represent the real treasury of Slovak national culture. Folk architecture also holds an exceptional position among monuments. Numerous original and well-preserved building complexes found in several mountain valleys and remote lowlands have been preserved as folk architecture reservations and these bear testament to the original character of settlement and the architecture of ancient Slovakia. They show the remains of ancient cultures and period styles. Folk architecture is not only subordinated to functionality and the given historical possibilities, but it also reflects the sense of its anonymous authors for beauty and harmony with the environment. It includes not only residential and adjacent farm buildings (barns, hay-lofts, outbuildings, stables, cattle-sheds and cellars), but also production buildings (blacksmithies, forges, treadmills, mangling facilities, crazing mills, fulling mills, brickworks, lime kilns and chalets) and public buildings (bell houses, shrines, bridges, water gates and rafts). Diversity is also shown in architectural types which are relative to specific environments and markets by their local colour. To put it simply, Slovak territory may be divided into the southern part which is typified by the use of clay and the northern part which is adherent to wood. Every region has its specifics which makes Slovakia a real thesaurus of folk art that reflects the experience and knowledge of the millennia.
A special position among monuments belongs to the wooden churches. These are classified into three groups. The oldest type (Tvrdošín, Hervartov) draws from Gothic motifs, the newer type uses the shape of a Greek cross in the ground-plan (Svätý Kríž, Hronsek, Istebné, Leštiny, Kežmarok, Podhorany) and the third type represents the Eastern-type churches. The majority of them are concentrated in North Eastern Slovakia where the western world of Rome connects with the eastern world of Byzantium.
The preserved cultural monuments bear evidence to the fact that Slovakia was always a significant factor in the development of Central Europe. The quality of the Slovak cultural heritage, which in several cases ranks unique in the world, determines Slovakia to have an exceptional position which, however, has still not been fully discovered and assessed.