Velvet Revolution memorials unveiled

A crowd gathered at SNP Square to attend a rally commemorating the 17th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution.
photo: Jana Liptáková

TWO plaques memorializing the Velvet Revolution, which signaled the downfall of the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia, were unveiled on Bratislava's SNP Square the evening of November 17. The first commemorates Ján Langoš, a former dissident and director of the National Memory Institute, who was killed in a car accident on June 15, 2006. The second marks events from 1989 that led to the regime's demise.

The plaque featuring Ján Langoš was placed on the wall of the National Memory Institute.

The second was put onto the Milosrdní Bratia hospital to recall the victory of freedom and democracy over Communism.

František Mikloško, a former dissident who now serves in parliament, was one of the leading figures behind the plaques. "Seventeen years after the fall of the Communism, the capital did not have a memorial devoted to that momentous occasion," Mikloško said for the SITA news wire.

In the days leading up to the Revolution, tens of thousands rallied in SNP Square, where they jingled keys to signal the regime's downfall.

Krásy Slovenska celebrates 85 years

Krásy Slovenska is 85 years old.
photo: TASR

KRÁSY Slovenska Magazine, which profiles the country's nature, history and traditions, is celebrating its 85th anniversary. Miloš Janečka launched the publication in Liptovský Mikuláš in 1921 with the slogan: "Let's know our homeland!" Janečka also chose to dedicate some of the magazine's space to promoting tourism, and the Dajama publishing house, which now runs the magazine, continues to do that today.

Krásy Slovenska has had an uninterrupted 85-year run, which makes it the oldest magazine of its kind in Slovakia.

Its 68 pages show interesting natural locations in Slovakia, protected areas, national parks, regions, towns and villages and cultural and historical monuments. It also writes about historical events and tourist information. Apart from hiking, it covers bicycle tourism, water tourism, skiing, and alpinism.

Dajama also publishes tourist guides about individual Slovak regions, in Slovak, English, German and other languages.

Record sum at Christmas bazaar

The IWCB Christmas Bazaar attracted a record 3,500 guests this year and raised over Sk 1 million for charity.
photo: SITA

A RECORD number of visitors took to the Old Market Hall on Bratislava's SNP Square on Sunday, November 19, to taste food from all over the world as part of the 16th annual Christmas Bazaar, organized by the International Women's Club of Bratislava (IWCB).

This year's number of visitors totaled 3,500, about 1,000 more than last year.

The bazaar also raised a record sum, Sk1.35 million, which is approximately Sk200,000 more than last year, Zora Grohoľová from the IWCB told The Slovak Spectator.

The bazaar is the most significant event involving the diplomatic and international communities in Slovakia. "More and more embassies are taking part in this event, like, for example, [the Republic of] Georgia, which only recently opened an embassy. Similarly, the Palestinian Embassy was involved for the first time. In total, 28 embassies took part this year," Bratislava IWC president Viera Buchtová told the TASR news wire.

The money collected will be donated to charity, and will be divided among non-governmental organizations in Slovakia.

One of the bazaar's prominent guests was Slovak First Lady Silvia Gašparovičová, who said she was very pleased with it. "This is my third year at this event, and I'm very pleased by the interest our people have shown in it," she said.

Memorial for victims of racism erected

This sculpture of a bird with a broken wing represents the senseless ending of a life.
photo: ČTK

AS PART of the national celebration of the end of Communism, a memorial to the victims of racism and neo-Nazism was unveiled at Bratislava's Tyršovo nábrežie on November 16, just several metres from where university student Daniel Tupý was killed more than a year ago.

The band Živé kvety opened the evening's events with a song it had written about Tupý. Later, the bands Gladiator and Odysea performed. During the concert, writer Daniel Hevier, who was Tupý's professor at Comenius University, joined jazz drummer Jozef "Dodo" Šošoka in ceremonially unveiling the statue, which portrayed an angel with a broken wing.

The initiative to build a memorial to the victims of racism and neo-Nazism came from Daniel Tupý, Sr. and the People against Racism civic association, in co-operation with the City of Bratislava. The memorial is dedicated to the seven known, as well as all the unknown, victims of racial violence in Slovakia.

Wine lovers toured wine cellars

Wine tasting tours are becoming increasingly popular in Slovakia.
photo: TASR

THOSE lucky wine lovers who managed to buy passes for the wine tasting Day of Open Cellars toured more than 80 wine cellars on November 17 and 18. Tickets for the 7th year of what has become the biggest wine tasting event in Slovakia were completely sold out days before the cellars opened their gates.

Organizers from the Small Carpathian Wine Route (Malokarpatská Vínna Cesta - MVC) report selling a total of 3,000 passes for Sk800 each. The wine producers agreed last year to cap the number of visitors because some of the cellars are quite small, and having too many visitors would interfere with the true purpose of the event - tasting selected wines in 81 wine cellars along the 50-kilometre route between Bratislava and Trnava.

Nevertheless, the large public interest has motivated wine makers to repeat the event. Jarmila Dudová from the MVC told the TASR news wire that the next wine tasting would take place on May 26, St. Urban Day, the patron saint of wine makers.

Kremnica Mint opens to the public

THE KREMNICA Mint, which has been producing coins for almost seven centuries, has opened part of its historical premises to the public. Interest in the mint, which is the oldest operating mint in the world, has been huge, but this is the first time the public has had access to it.

Jaroslav Setnický from the mint's marketing department confirmed for the Sme daily that visit requests arrive almost daily, yet no one was allowed in due to strict security measures, since the plant handles precious metals. "Moreover, visitors or excursions might also disturb the technological process of the production," Setnický added.

Now, the production and exhibition part of the plant have been divided so that the production can remain secure.

Visitors have the opportunity to see machines that manufactured the first Czechoslovak 20-heller coins in 1921, and are still functional.

"Minting rooms are often regarded as the heart of a minting plant. This is because it's where the technological process of coin alloy processing culminates," Setnický said.

Visitors can also see five still functional minting machines, apart from other exhibits.

The premises got their current features during a huge reconstruction of the minting plant between 1881 and 1889, and thus became part of the system of buildings dating back to the middle of the 15th century.

In 1892, the plant manufactured the currency of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy on 14 Uhlhorn machines. But after World War One, the Hungarian government took the machines away. The minting plant then installed 12 Vulkan machines in 1921. These machines produced coins until 1986, when the production moved completely into the new premises, which had modern technologies.

The machines are still functional and are used for minting emblems, medals and other similar products.

- Jana Liptáková