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MALÁ FATRA: Where a gulp from a mountain stream doesn't hurt

In 1688 Juraj Jánošik entered this world in Terchova, a tiny village in the Malá Fatra mountains. The family was poor, and though his father labored from dawn till dusk, his children were often hungry.
One day young Juraj, who was studying to be a priest, came home to see his father lying on a rack. Two catchpolls whipped him to death, because he didn't pay a tithe to the feudal lord. Kneeling beside his dead father, fighting to hold back his tears, Jánošik clenched his fists and said, "There is no justice in the world. My father was good, but I must be an outlaw." Jánošik organized a group of twelve young, stout boys armed with axes. Since that time the name Jánošik became a nightmare for feudal lords.


Mother Nature carves her beauty in the limestone hills of the Mala Fatra.
Ľubica Sokolíková

In 1688 Juraj Jánošik entered this world in Terchova, a tiny village in the Malá Fatra mountains. The family was poor, and though his father labored from dawn till dusk, his children were often hungry.

One day young Juraj, who was studying to be a priest, came home to see his father lying on a rack. Two catchpolls whipped him to death, because he didn't pay a tithe to the feudal lord. Kneeling beside his dead father, fighting to hold back his tears, Jánošik clenched his fists and said, "There is no justice in the world. My father was good, but I must be an outlaw."

Jánošik organized a group of twelve young, stout boys armed with axes. Since that time the name Jánošik became a nightmare for feudal lords. The mountain boys, as the poor people called them, attacked rich feudal manors and then spread the captured booty among the poorer folks. They also stopped merchant coaches, stole cloth which Jánošik then divided among poor women. Ever since, Slovak people have worshipped him and his deeds.

The monumental statue of Juraj Jánošik dedicated to his 300th anniversary welcomes you to Terchova as you enter one of the most beautiful valleys in the country. It is the entrance to Vratna Dolina (valley) and the Malá Fatra mountain range. The gate among rocky cliffs is also guarded by another statue, but this artist is mother nature herself. The rock is in the shape of a kneeling and praying monk.

The Malá Fatra possesses natural features of such remarkable beauty and in such abundance and variety, that anyone will find something that suits their taste. The geologist will find, in varied composition, rocks shaping the unusual topography for limestone and dolomite regions. The botanist will delight in the colorful sub-alpine flora, some of which are unique to this mountain range only.

The historian and ethnographer will have a plethora of the tiny villages that dot the range to study. There are also historical or archaeological monuments for all to take in: remains of strongholds, castle ruins, folk architecture, including classic timber dwellings and farmsteads, wood carved folk crafts, or utensils and furniture made out of wood. Tourists can enjoy a little bit of everything.


Janošík guards Terchova.
Ľubica Sokolíková

With full backpack

A beautiful place to start is from Chata Vrátna. Take a steep chair lift up to just under the top of Chleb Mountain (1,500 meters above sea level). You will feel free as a bird when looking around from the climb - the whole palette of spring colors coming to life, and for the first time this year cow bells jingle and flocks of sheep cover the green slopes. At the end of the chair lift the path diverges to either the saddle called Snilovské Sedlo to Chleb and Hromové or continues along the ridge of the Malá Fatra between Malý Kriváň and Veľky Rozsutec. Altogether there are 42 kilometers of marked tourist paths.

A famous trail called "the outlaw path" runs from Zbojnícky Chodník to Obšivanka, Tiesňavy and Starý Dvor. It's the path where Juraj Jánošik and his mountain boys always escaped amidst rocks when chased by soldiers.

Take the path from Krivánska Malá Fatra to Štefanová, Diery and Boboty and admire picturesque limestone in isolated columns or bizarre groups and islands of rocks. Sometimes you will have to duck when passing through a low and narrow canyon or climb a ladder to get over small waterfalls. Crystal clear streams of water seek their way among boulders and rocks. Feel free to scoop a gulp or two if you're thirsty - it's still clean and harmless. Don't forget to leave enough time to admire the shingled roofs of the wooden houses in the village of Štefanová whose skilled shinglers are known throughout the country.

When the sun sets behind the line of mountains, it's time to slow down. The Slovenská Izba restaurant, located in a separate wooden house several steps from the hotel Boboty, has a special charm. Delicious smoked sheep cheese "oštiepok," sausages and bacon are the local specialities served on wooden plates by handsome waiters in folklore costumes. Later, out in the bright night, the soft buzz of the forest embraces you and the stars seem very close.

Topic: Tourism and travel in Slovakia


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