A DISPLAY of roses and a musical festival in the village of Dolná Krupá, close to Trnava, during the last weekend of June served to commemorate Mária Henrieta Choteková, who was known as the Rose Countess.
In the early 20th century, Countess Choteková became the most acknowledged rose grower in what was then Hungary. Her garden was the largest in Central Europe, with thousands of varieties of roses, including those she cultivated herself.
"She did not have a family, thus she invested all her energy and time into roses," village Deputy Mayor Stanislav Petráš told the Pravda daily.
Villagers remember the Rose Countess not only for her roses but also her relation to ordinary people.
"She spoke the local dialect. Preserved photos show her dressed in the traditional village costume. She liked villagers, and they worshiped her for this," added Petráš.
The Rose Countess gave charity meals and provided accommodation to those travelling. She also generously supported orphans, as well as abandoned children. During World War One, stopped tending her roses to nurse wounded soldiers.
The countess's death in her native village in 1946 also meant the end of the garden. A decade ago, German grower Johannes Kalbus tried to revive its fame by presenting the village with precious varieties of roses.
The manor house in Dolná Krupá is one of the most beautiful examples of provincial classicist architecture in Slovakia. Great composer Ludwig van Beethoven is said to have composed his famous Moonlight Sonata there. The nearby Rococo Beethoven pavilion even holds an exhibition of the Musical Museum dedicated to Beethoven's life and work.