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The people of Kysuce keep life simple through tough times

A steep, winding path up the hill leads to a small wooden house standing alone in the shade of several trees. An old man resting on a bench puts his heavy wrinkled hand on the head of a big brown dog who sits calmly by his legs. The dog looks up at the man and wags his tail. They understand each other, living together more than 15 years. Just the two of them. Life is not easy here, but they are used to it.
The man's daughter and two sons built big houses down in Čadca. They asked him to come to live with them. But no, he does not want to. His father and grandfather lived here, so why should he change?
Electricity? What for? An old white brick stove gives him enough warmth and light.


Electricity? Radio? Kysuce old-timers may ask "What for?"
Ľubica Sokolíková

A steep, winding path up the hill leads to a small wooden house standing alone in the shade of several trees. An old man resting on a bench puts his heavy wrinkled hand on the head of a big brown dog who sits calmly by his legs. The dog looks up at the man and wags his tail. They understand each other, living together more than 15 years. Just the two of them. Life is not easy here, but they are used to it.

The man's daughter and two sons built big houses down in Čadca. They asked him to come to live with them. But no, he does not want to. His father and grandfather lived here, so why should he change?

Electricity? What for? An old white brick stove gives him enough warmth and light.

Radio and news? The only music he knows are the lullabies sung in chorus by the wind, the trees and the black birds. From time to time, a postman stops by on his route and tells of what is new in the village, who died and who was born.

This is Kysuce - a region of unspoiled nature. It is a region of blooming meadows, buzzing forests, gurgling brooks, shy animals and charming wooden houses spread across the mountain slopes.

Since the time of its settlement in the 16th century, only farming, forestry, and small scale industry have developed here.


Kysuce's relative isolation has preserved its traditional architecture.
Ľubica Sokolíková

With relatively unfertile soil, the farming yields were very low. Hopes for more extensive development were connected with the construction of the Košice - Bohumín railway in 1869, which was to pass Kysuce. Side routes from Čadca to Skalité and to Makov would have connected most communities of the region. These hopes remain unfulfilled. The small farmers of Kysuce were expelled and forced to look for means of subsistence outside the region. Most became seasonal farm laborers, the most famous became the Kysuce tinkers.

Migrating in search of work continues to impact on the culture and way of life of the Kysuce people. Traditional family life was accompanied by customs and superstitions that were preserved until the first half of this century, whereas they had long since disappeared in the rest of Slovakia.

The folk culture and timber architecture developed and preserved over centuries by the people of along the Kysuca and Čierňanka rivers makes this region one of Slovakia's most intriguing.

Walking slowly through the green meadows of the Veľká Rača, breathing fresh air, admiring the small wooden houses here and there, while somewhere close an owl is hooting, is pure joy, far from everyday problems.

Travel back in time for a while at the Múzeum kysuckej dediny (Kysuce Village Museum) in the Vychylovka Valley near Nová Bystrica, which presents Kysuce folk architecture, culture and the way of life from the second half of the last century and the first half of this one.

Every year from May to October (open Tuesday - Sunday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.) local singing and dancing groups perform original folk songs, and skilled craftspeople demonstrate their trades. White clouds of steam leave the chimney of the small train that tours through the reconstructed narrow-gauge railway. This cog railway covers a distance of 1500 m and climbs a vertical drop of 217 m.

See with your own eyes that Kysuce - once living in poverty - has changed a lot. But perhaps not enough to satisfy everyone yet. One small boy, having heard the tour guide describe how children in the past would sleep on top of a brick kitchen stove, said to his mother:

"Mom, why are we so poor that we have just a simple gas stove in our kitchen? I would love to sleep on that big white one like children used to."

Topic: Tourism and travel in Slovakia


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