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Art of the northern regions – Turiec, Liptov, Orava


Appreciation 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.

4-day 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 discoveries of more than a hundred of former fortified hill-forts (of the Celtic period, of the Migration period and of the 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 also too remote from the Viennese anti-Reform Habsburg court and the “rule” of evangelic elite – the Orava branch of the Thurzo family, Illésházy family and other members of lower nobility – were tolerated here. During our cultural tour we will meet the traces of this segment of cultural heritage at 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 was “living” here as late as fifty years ago. It was already considered “the most original Slovak heritage” 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, as have 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 topic for modern Slovak art.

Our sightseeing/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 having tough footwear for hiking are enough for this.


Big KR NOS 4 map

Thursday: Meeting in Vienna (Meindling Bhf) at 6:30. Bus transfer to Slovakia. 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 secure accommodation near the Tatra village of Zuberec.

Friday: This day we will first enter the complex of the famous bizarre Orava castle, which used to serve as an administrative centre of the region. In the valley below the mythical mountain “Choč” we will see the Evangelical 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. We will also see the monuments behind the mountain ridge in the region of Liptov. In the city of Ružomberok we will see the gallery of the Slovak modern painter Ľudovít Fulla (1902-1980) and Early Gothic murals in the church of Martinček. 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.

Saturday: 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 the fascinating furnishing of the interiors with paintings and sculptures with 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.

Sunday: 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. In Liptov, we cannot miss the Evangelical church close to the village of Svätý Kríž, which belongs to the largest historical wooden buildings. It has room for up to 5000 churchgoers. On the way back we will visit the village Vlkolínec still located in Liptov, which has been registered in the list of world heritage of UNESCO. Return to Vienna in night hours.

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.
  • 3x accommodation in double and single rooms in three/four star hotels and guesthouses
  • Full board in carefully selected stylish restaurants - 3x breakfast, 4x lunch, 4x 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 NOS4 is 489Euro per person in double room,

Extra charge for a single room is 76 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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