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Art of the northern regions – Turiec, Liptov, Orava

 bytca okolicne orav hrad

Perception of the culture of a smaller region leads to deeper experiences from the country and its culture. This is true both for exploring Normandy and northern Italy as well as for wandering around the northern regions of Slovakia.

Cultural tour

Slovakia is a small country measured by its size. However, to speak about the diversity of its parts, a sort of “Europe in small” is not an empty phrase. The differences between the images and types of landscape and climate in the different regions are strikingly large. Naturally, they manifested themselves in the culture as well.

The basins between the mountains of northern Slovakia have been relatively remote both from the centres in the Pannonian Danube region (Buda, Esztergom), as well as from the centres of the north-eastern Kingdom of Hungary (Košice, Spiš), and thus their cultural heritage partially exudes the charm of artistic periphery. However, this was not the case in prehistoric times, as evidenced by the traces and finds of more than a hundred of former fortified hill-forts (of Celtic period, of Migration period and Slavic period), preserved Gothic churches and monasteries, as well as castles..

Interesting are also the traces of a specific political and social situation lasting here (approximately from 1550 until 1770) for more than two centuries. These northern comitati (counties) – Turiec, Liptov, Orava – were too remote also from the Viennese anti-Reform Habsburg court and the “rule” of evangelical elite – the Orava branch of the Thurzo family, Illésházy family and other members of lower nobility – was tolerated here. During our cultural tour we will meet the traces of this segment of cultural heritage on several places.

However, these regions are characteristic especially for their traces of folk culture, especially wooden folk architecture. Due to the already mentioned remoteness and deep forests this culture used to be living here as late as fifty years ago. It was considered “the most original Slovak heritage” already by the Romantics of the 19th century (and by foreign ethnologists as well). In its forms the prehistoric, the generally “Carpathian” constructions and forms have been preserved, medieval and Renaissance elements, and in the northernmost parts even the “goral” ones (we will talk about the ethnic group “gorali” on our tour in more detail). The culture and landscape of these regions has become a remarkable theme for the modern Slovak art.

Our cultural tour around the northern regions of Slovakia provides, in case of good weather conditions, also opportunities to choose directly on the spot walking during some stages of the tour. Just being a bit in shape and tough footwear for hiking are enough for this.


big >KR NOS7 map

Saturday: Meeting in Vienna, railway station Westbahnhof, at 16:00. Bus transfer to a hotel close to Trenčín.

Sunday: The first stop is the castle in Bytča, which used to be (besides the Orava castle) the main seat of prominent historical personalities of the local branch of the Thurzo family. We will come across Juraj Thurzo (1567 – 1616) several times during the whole tour. In Bytča we will primarily see the unique Renaissance building of the marriage palace. In the region of Turiec, in the Museum of the Slovak Village Martin we will see the basic types of buildings of the Slovak northern regions, and then in a small museum (mansion in Blatnica) we will get to know the work of the Czech ethnologist and outstanding photographer Karol Plicka, who captured the disappearing unique rural culture of Slovakia during the years 1920 – 1938. In the evangelical church in the village Necpaly we will see a theologically and artistically challenging altar, which used to be located originally in the Thurzo chapel in the Orava castle. In the Gothic church above the village Jaseno we will get to know the Early Gothic murals. Finally, we will travel to the region of Orava and get accommodation near the Tatra village of Zuberec.

Monday: day we will firstly enter the complex of the famous bizarre Orava castle, which used to serve as an administrative centre of the region. In the comitatus (county) town of Dolný Kubín we will visit the attractive and interesting exposition of the Orava Gallery. In the valley below the mythical mountain “Choč” we will see the evangelic articular wooden church in the village of Leštiny. We will find out how surprisingly diverse and rich in artworks the interiors of these churches from the Reformation era are, and we will get to know the all-European cultural connexions of the donors from this unknown village in the mountains. In the late afternoon, we will see unique wooden buildings and a Gothic-Renaissance wooden church from the village Zábrež in the Museum of Orava Village Zuberec-Brestova. There will be a small concert of original folk music prepared especially for us, after which we will explain its historical and musical particularities.

Tuesday: On the way to Orava we will pass the village Podbiel with an array of listed houses reminiscent of a street in a small Gothic town by the line of gable fronts. In the town of Tvrdošín we will see a wooden church, the Gothic parts of which have been recently dated by physical methods with an accuracy of one year, and a wooden church in Orawka in the territory of Poland. In both of them, we will see a fascinating furnishing of the interiors with paintings and sculptures entailing an interesting historical account. Then we will take a boat to the island with a unique exposition of folk sculptures. It is the upper part of the Calvary hill of the village Slanica, which was flooded by the waters of the artificial lake of Orava in 1954. An interesting experience will be also a short ride by the reconstructed forest railway to the mountain pass Beskyd, which is already on the border with the region Kysuce, and the familiarization with the history of this unique technical monument. Finally, we will see a remarkable church in the style of Carpathian Art Nouveau in Oravská Lesná.

Wednesday: We will set out to the region of Liptov to the south of Orava. On the edge of the Tatras we will make a small hike to the site called Oblazy in a gorge of Kvačianska valley. We will find here an authentic complex of folk technical monuments, like water mills and a sawmill, which we will se in operation. Then we will see a Gothic church in Smrečany, the interior of which (three Gothic panel altars, murals, stalls and other artefacts) come from the best workshops of Spiš thanks to the local donors. The nearby monastic church in Okoličné is an example of a building, the investor of which apparently was the royal court of the king Matthias Corvinus.

Then we will make a trip to the nature of the Low Tatras – depending on the weather either to the world famous Demänovské Caves or by a funicular to the mountain Chopok, which stands in the main mountain ridge overlooking the entire Liptov.

Thursday: In the morning we will return to Liptov and see the ancient church fascinatingly located over the village of Martinček, under the castle Likava. In it, we will see the recently discovered murals from the pre-1300 period, which cannot deny its West European origin (Benedictine). Immediately afterwards we can make a comparison – the church near the village of Ludrová also has completely preserved Gothic murals in the presbytery, however, their style is already typical for the inland environment. Over the village of Sliače we can see an example of current architechture – the church “Archa” (Ark) from young artists. Near the village of Svätý Kríž we will enter largest wooden church in Central Europe – this evangelic articular church has room for up to 5000 churchgoers. Then, right at the foot of the High Tatras, we will visit the exposition of the Museum of the Liptov Village Pribylina, where besides rural buildings we will see the Gothic manor house from the village Parížovce and a very interesting medieval church from Liptovská Mara.

Friday: We will conclude the wandering around Liptov by ascending to the village of Vlkolínec, which has been registered in the list of world cultural heritage at UNESCO. In a modern building of an atelier gallery in the city of Ružomberok we will get to know the paintings of the painter Ľudovít Fulla (1902 – 1980), who belonged to prominent representatives of Slovak modernism. On the way down along the valley of the river Váh we can ascend to the ruins of the castle Strečno with a museum exposition. Accommodation at the hotel close to the city Trenčín.

Saturday: After visiting the castle Trenčín, from which it was being decided for nearly ten centuries about the fate of the Trenčín comitatus (county) (area of the present northern and north-western Slovakia), we will see the fortified castle Červený Kameň (Biebersburg) in a typically wine-growing area. The building of its fortification system was ordered by the Fugger family after 1535 to protect their transports of copper based on the sketches of Albrecht Dürer. Arrival to Vienna in the evening.

Service package:

The price of the tour covers:

  • A qualified guiding service
  • Expert guiding by a renowned art-historian
  • Travel from Vienna, around Slovakia and back to Vienna in a comfortable bus.
  • 7x accommodation in double and single rooms at three/four star hotels and guesthouses
  • Full board in carefully selected stylish restaurants - 7x breakfast, 7x lunch, 6x dinner
  • Entrance fees (except Group tours and VIP tours)

The price of the tour does not include the following:

  • drinks
  • voluntary contributions
  • insurance
  • charges for taking pictures in museums and monuments
  • individual transportation from the residence to the point of departure (except Group tours and VIP tours)

Tour price

The price for the tour KR NOS 7 is 735 Euro per person in double room,

Extra charge for a single room is 150 Euro.

For tours of the type Group tours and VIP tours the price is calculated individually


Dates for groups – by appointment

Dates for VIP – by appointment

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