Open Air Museums
Open-air museums and Slovak folklore
Skills and artistic abilities of the Slovak nation can be admired even today. Slovak heritage and folklore can be seen mainly in folk architecture in open-air museums and folk festivals throughout Slovakia. For instance in small villages of picturesque Slovak regions such as Kysuce, Orava, Liptov, Horehronie, Spiš and Šariš.
The complex of rock dwellings molded in rocks located several kilometers east from Levice, in the village of Brhlovce, is a unique phenomenon. The origin of rare rock dwellings is still not clear. Some authors associate them with shelters used at the time of the Turkish invasions of the 16th century, others link their origins to economic activity, especially the cultivation of vines.
The rocky dwellings located in the village of Šurda are from the 18th and 20th centuries. Some of them are still used for housing, others serve as wine cellars. Court number 142 has received international recognition Europa Nostra. The folk dwelling exposition is an external exposition of the Tekov Museum in Levice.
Čičmany is located between Prievidza and Žilina. The houses in this wooden village are decorated with national paintings.
House number 42 is a museum presenting a typical Slovak residential house from this region. Radenovský House depicts the life and work of the Čičman people, their sewing and handicrafts.
A unique and characteristic element of the log cabins in Čičmany are their exteriors decorated with geometric patterns. The authors of the unusual ornaments were, of course, skilful women who originally decorated only the corners of houses with mud and later lime. However, since the 19th century various motifs have been added and the entire exterior of the houses has been painted. The geometric ornament was also used for embroidery, applied to clothing, pictures or tablecloths.
The reservation includes 136 houses. The most well-preserved include Raden’s House and Gregor’s House, which houses an ethnographic exhibition where visitors can learn more about the history and folklore of the region.
Ethnographic natural exposition – open-air museum Stará Ľubovňa
The Museum of Folk Architecture, located at the bottom of the Ľubovňa Castle, is a separate exhibition. It has a number of traditional buildings from the surrounding villages, which together with the castle create unique and very impressive scenery.
A group of country houses in the open-air museum resembles a picturesque castle and records the development of folk architecture in the area. Unlike farm houses with original interiors that show the past culture of housing and agriculture, this open-air museum also contains structures that were used seasonally for agricultural and craft purposes, a blacksmith’s workshop, a forester’s house, a school and a water mill are just some of them.
The wooden Greek Catholic church Matysová from 1833 is dedicated to St. Archangel Michael. To this day, ceremonial services are organized in the church on the occasion of important religious celebrations. The open-air museum and the Ľubovňa Castle are home to a number of events that enliven every visitor’s trip.
Folk architecture in the Gemer region
Almost every municipality in the Gemera region can proudly present buildings, whether residential or economic, that represent the traditional architecture of the region. Special area Slovak Karst is an important area for its well-preserved folk architecture.
The architecture of South Gemer is characterized by elements of Classicism, especially porches, columns and geometric or plant decorations of the gables. The stucco decoration of the front walls and the original iron details such as wrought-iron doors, grilles and shutters that have been used are another feature of the typical properties of these houses. The elements of iron were mainly seen in farm buildings.
Some of these houses are still occupied or serve as storage facilities. Many of the farm buildings such as barns, granaries, tool sheds and stables have already disappeared. It is therefore remarkable if some of them have been preserved.
Museum of Folk Architecture
The Museum of Folk Architecture of Slovakia is the oldest open-air museum and is located on the outskirts of Bardejov Spa. The main monuments include two wooden churches, which were originally located in the village Zboj (orthodox) and in the nearby village Mikulášová (Greek-Catholic).
The first exposition of the open-air museum was opened to the public in 1965 in the spa Bardejov. It currently consists of almost 30 folk architecture buildings from Upper Saris and North-East Zemplin region.
The visit to the museum is revived by organizing events such as Craft Day, Folklore Afternoon, Pottery Sunday, Ruthenian and Saris Folklore, etc.
Museum of Liptov village
The open-air museum of the Liptov village with characteristic wooden houses is located in the village of Pribylina. The Gothic church from the 12th century dominates over wooden dwellings.
The museum is open all year round. The museum of the Liptov village displays typical folk architecture. The driving force for the founding of the museum was extensive flooding caused by the construction of the dam Liptovská Mara. Fortunately, the most important cultural monuments were moved from 11 flooded villages.
The original buildings were dismantled and moved to the museum, which opened to the public in 1991. Rare examples of religious and secular folk architecture are the castle of Paris and the Church of Our Lady of Liptovska Mary.
The manor house is a good example of the architecture of the oldest landowners in the Liptov region and presents various architectural details, Gothic wall paintings will certainly attract the attention of many tourists. There is also a teacher ‘s apartment from Valaská Dubová and an exhibition of old beehives in a set near the local school.
There is a folk crafts training center in the museum which offers examples of folk crafts and art (weaving, bobbin-lace, wood, metal and leather processing, straw production, planing of baskets, etc.) as well as demonstrations of typical costumes.
Regular events organized in the museum are Ovarian ovens, which take place on the last May of Sunday, Sunday of Children in June, Sunday of compatriots in July, Sunday of Beekeepers in August, St. Hubert’s Day in September and Thanksgiving for October in December, Liptov Christmas . The museum is also a zoo, which focuses on livestock and poultry, including horse breeding, where you can try horseback riding.
Museum of Kysuce village
There is an open-air museum of Kysucké village in northern Slovakia. In addition to typical local architecture, it also offers the possibility to ride on a historic train.
Visitors can take a closer look at typical houses, chapels, cemeteries or shepherds’ dwellings. The external ethnographic exposition represents the type of scattered settlements in the hilly areas – kopanice, which were typical of the Kysuce region.
The main reason for the establishment of the Museum of Kysucké village was to save the precious objects of folk architecture from the villages of Riečnica and Harvelka, which would otherwise be flooded due to the construction of the dam. Some buildings used for housing, agriculture, technical or sacral purposes were gradually moved to the museum from several municipalities in the region. Its pilot operation began in 1981.
The center of the village consists of the Chapel of Our Lady – Mary of the Rosary, an inn from the village Korňa and the oldest residential house from 1806 from Oščadnice.
Every Sunday during the tourist season (May-October), the museum offers its visitors cultural events with a varied program and presents the museum as an authentic village, especially through livestock farming, crop cultivation and authentic cuisine consisting of dishes from the years past our grandmothers.
Museum of Orava village
In Brestovany, a few kilometers from Zuberec, we can find a unique museum of Orava village. Visitors can see all kinds of buildings – peasant houses, rooms, farms, huts, haylofts, etc., sacral buildings (wooden church, cemetery and belfry) and craft buildings such as the Wallachian mill and sawmill, furnace, etc.
The museum is divided into five sections per region. The marketplace of Dolni Orava is an example of a richer side with relatively large, spectacular houses. The mill near the stream includes a water mill, a saw mill and a wash mill which are powered by a common mechanism.
The passages in the Zamagurie region, with houses and estates of rich and medium-rich farmers, represent the typical structure of Orava.
The Goral part represents the poorest parts of Orava lying on the south-eastern slopes of the Orava Beskids. The dominant of the whole area is a cemetery with a Gothic wooden church from the 15th century, which stands on an elevated place.
The museum regularly organizes ethnological and international exhibitions, such as the Podroháčsky Folk Festival held in the local amphitheater in August.
Ethnographic exposition in nature SNM-MUK in Svidník
The monuments of folk architecture of Ukrainians and Ruthenians are concentrated in the open-air museum of ethnographic exposition in the amphitheater of Svidník.
The wooden church from Nová Polianka is a jewel of the exposition. It offers tours of picturesque farm houses. Typical rural settlements also include farm buildings and structures such as wells, stables, haylofts and barns. Typical rural utility buildings such as a water mill and sawmill, a blacksmith’s workshop, a fire station, and a school building also form an integral part of the exposition.
The open-air museum organizes folklore and ethnographic events in June as part of the traditional Ruthenian Culture Festival in Slovakia. In addition, the Days of Folk Traditions, as well as the international championships in the production of pies, which are organized in September.
Podbiel is a typical village located in the Orava region with an interesting compound of original log houses. The composition consists of 47 two to three bedroom houses with shingle roof and original decoration.
The basic feature of the property is an open common yard. In front of the yard are two or three houses built in line with the corresponding farm buildings. These log houses with gable roofs are built on stone foundations. Some wooden houses were restored in the 20th century and offer attractive accommodation for visitors.
SNM in Martin – Slovak Village Museum
It is located in the southeastern part of Martin and was built by the Slovak National Museum in Martin. The museum focuses on examples of folk architecture of the regions of Orava, Liptov, Kysuce, Podjavorník and Turiec. There are 129 buildings that were previously used for housing, work, social and worship purposes. Some of these buildings are furnished and open to the public.
The most important buildings include the settlement from Vyšný Kubín, the oil production facility from Oravská Veselá, the tavern from Oravská Polhora, which dates back to 1811, the wooden Roman Catholic church from 1792, which was originally located in Rudna, a garden gazebo from Slovenský Pravna, storage premises for vehicles and livestock area from Moškovce, school from Petrovice, estate from Vavrišov and many others.
The Museum of the Slovak Village organizes the Ethnographic Year program, where it will present examples of traditional folk production, crafts, customs and folklore. The dates and focus of the event are in accordance with the customs and folklore traditions of the individual regions of northwestern Slovakia. These include the celebration of the carnival season, Easter in the village, building of May, Sunday for children, Anna’s feast, Michael and Christmas market in the village.
The monument of folk architecture in the village Špania Dolina consists of a unique set of mining houses built of wood and stones. The former mining village is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful in Slovakia. In the past, honey and silver were mined in this area.
A substantial part of the local architecture is made up of miners’ houses, mostly built of logs on stone foundations. The magnificent panorama is dominated by the high tower of the church built on Romanesque foundations.
Every visitor desiring to discover the beauty of a fortified church must climb 160 steps with a covered staircase. Another precious technical monument is undoubtedly the old water supply and locally produced, bobbin lace. In the historic building of the municipal office is currently a copper museum.
Horná Nitra Mining Museum
The region of Upper Nitra is known for coal mining. Because of this, you should definitely not miss the Mining Museum, which is open to the public in a brown coal mine, where coal mining is still ongoing. The exposition includes the history of brown coal mining in Slovakia, with a special focus on the Upper Nitra region, the mysterious world of elves in myths and amusing stories that miners talked to each other, and also presents unique techniques used in the past and present.
Visitors will get to the underground on a typical mining train. The 566 meter long transport is followed by a walking tour and expert commentary. Cigeľ mine is located about 5 kilometers southeast of the district town of Prievidza.
Vlkolínec is an open-air museum and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is situated very near Ružomerok. The village is a beautiful example of typical old North Slovak architecture.
House number 15 was built in 1886 and represents Slovak life at the beginning of the twentieth century. His original tools and historic furniture show visitors how difficult life in the region used to be. It is very interesting that, unlike other villages of its kind, which are more or less abandoned, Vlkolínec still has 29 inhabitants.
Biely Potok is a protruding point from the village Vlkolínec – it is a conservation area of folk architecture. Vlkolínec was classified as the best preserved seat of this time in the Carpathian arch. Originally it was a settlement of lumberjacks, shepherds and farmers. Vlkolínec is a typical example of two-row streets with long courtyards. Among the protected buildings are 45 log houses with courtyards from the 18th century. Interestingly, they were painted blue, pink and white twice a year.
A typical example of a house from the village of Vlkolínec is the house of farmers – from the exposition of the Liptov Museum. The preserved original interior and furniture provide a true picture of the way of life of its ancient inhabitants from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The remaining protected buildings in the conservation area are still inhabited, the population reaches number 30 and that is why visitors can only see the outside of the houses.
Located in the Veľká Fatra National Park, Vlkolínec is crossed by a cycling route and the owners of several private houses offer accommodation. An interesting folk event called “Sunday in Vlkolínec” is organized every summer in early August.
Ždiar is a typical Goral village. It s also a tourist center and a starting point for trips to the Belianske Tatras. The 4 most precious groups of houses built in the old favorite style contain wood structures with 3 rooms. The houses are characterized by beautiful window frames with painted decorations. Ždiar is known for its folk art and traditions.
Until recently, villagers wore traditional costumes on Sundays or holidays. At present, they can only be seen during tours of folk groups or together with other folk art exhibits or Ždiarska room. Groups of visitors can attend a typical Goral wedding, even as a newlywed couple.