Slovakia – a surprising country
Slovakia is not your usual tourist destination. It is a small mountainous central European country with the population of Wales (about 5m.) It used to be part of Czechoslovakia but has been independent since 1993. An entirely landlocked country, Slovakia is bordered by Poland to the north and Ukraine to the east. Hungary is to the south, Austria to the west, and the Czech Republic to the northwest. Slovakia uses the Euro, and the national language is Slovak.
This land covered in fairy-tale forests, has plenty for the intrepid traveler to explore. It has more castles per head of population than anywhere else in the world! There is also stunning countryside, mountains and hundreds of caves. Slovakia has hot springs and fascinating folk art, crafts and culture. And wine.
Slovakia and the Lišov Museum
I was lucky enough to take part in a sustainable tourism project in the Hont region of Slovakia. The project, hosted by Jakub and Adriana at the Lišov múzeum is about exploring opportunities for development in rural areas. Hont actually means ‘gold’ and indeed Slovakia was once a rich source of both gold and silver. This made Slovakia a destination to be fought over. The Austria Hungarian Empire fought with the Ottoman Empire over Slovakia’s resources. Later, the Russians also occupied this small central land imposing the communist regime on its people.
Things are more peaceful now. Slovakia is slowly rebuilding itself and rediscovering its own natural history and cultural heritage.
Slovakia and green tourism
The Lišov Museum is an innovative community driven organisation. The work programme of the museum is based around the 4 pillars of sustainability. These are environmental, cultural, social and economic. Developing rural business opportunities is a priority for the project. Main areas are food and wine and local crafts. Accommodation is also an important focus.
The small museum site has a village stone house from 1916. Fascinating items used in past times in domestic and agricultural village life fill the little house. A whole range of farm and domestic equipment are on display. Two very old weaving looms have been saved. Painstakingly strung by hand, they still work today! An extremely large wooden implement caught my eye. It was a giant marmalade stirrer!
Getting plastered in Slovakia
A Celtic roundhouse is under construction at the museum. This building shows the links with the area’s prehistoric and early historic heritage.
We spent one day clay plastering and helping to reconstruct the walls of the new coffee shop. Jakub is restoring this original building from 1887 with help from keen visitors! We filled gaps in the walls with stones and slapped on the plaster to create a weather proof breathable wall for the building.
Clay plastering is hard work! Plastering involves a lot of lifting, throwing and mixing but it’s great fun too! We mixed our own home made plaster by mixing fresh clay, gravel, cut straw, sand and water . Some people actually mixed the plaster the old fashioned way, with their feet!
A large collection of international masks are on display in a mask gallery. There is a small green village shop and local handmade products are for sale here. I have been to central Europe before when I went to rural Romania – checkout my experiences here – Transylvania – Dracula Country
Our Slovakian adventure was just beginning..