"There are several places on earth where nature creates a wonderful spot where people prosper."
Iveta Blažeková, Museum caretaker
Backyard. The Veľké Fatry are one of the mountainous backdrops to Liptovský Mikuláš.
Courtesy of Liptov regional tourist center
What is it about this town of 32,000 that has enabled it, in times both mythical and modern, to foster greatness in such diverse pursuits, to play host to heroes?
"We had a seminar here one time on that subject," answered Iveta Blažeková, who works in the museum dedicated to another favorite son, poet Jánko Kráľ. "There are several places on earth where nature creates a wonderful spot where people prosper," she explained. Then, referring to the fate of Slovakia's most beloved folk hero, she continued, saying, "For Jánošík, this was not the happiest place - he was caught and killed here - but other people that lived here were really successful." (See Jánošík story below)
Juraj Jánošík was the subject of writer Mária Rázusová-Martáková's most famous work written in 1941, which bore the folk hero's name as its title. Rázusová-Martáková and her equally well-known literary brother, Martin Rázus (who drew attention to the national and social problems Slovaks had in Czecho-Slovakia in his writings in the 1920's), are memorialized in a museum downtown.
Not far from the museum is the Jánko Kráľ Literature and History Museum, named after the poet who was imprisoned and threatened with the death penalty for his role in the Slovak revolution of 1848. He was born here in 1822. Kráľ wrote romantic ballads and songs plus "The Drama of the World," which gave his vision of a future marked by a cataclysm after which mankind will be revived by Slavic moral principles.
The arcade at the museum's front opens on to Námestie Osloboditeľov - Liberators' Square - which pays homage to the local partisans, as well as the Czechoslovak and Soviet armies that wrested the town from Fascist control at the end of World War II. Further evidence of Czecho-Slovak and Russuan sacrifices are found on the Háj Nicovô hill, where a military cemetery contains the graves of over a thousand soldiers.
A legacy of the war far less honorable is memorialized at the Jewish Synagogue, which is among Slovakia's biggest, located at Hollého 810/4. The building was built in 1731 and restored after a fire in 1906, but now its destroyed interior and a sign provide grim reminders that 851 people were deported from the city to their death during the War. Today, groups of Christian children often visit and occasional Christian concerts are performed there.
Back on Nám. Osloboditeľov is the Roman Catholic Church of St. Nicolaus, completed in 1280. Its highlights include three gothic altars and life-size statues of various town founders that line the church.
Around the corner at Tranovského 8 is a Protestant church with a baroque altar and portrait of Peter Michal Bohúň, a 19th century painter who immortalized contemporary patriots like Pavol Jozef Šafárik and Milan Hodža. Šafárik, an historian and linguist, brought to paper the rich heritage of Slovak folk songs. Hodža was a key statesman for Slovakia in the middle of this century. The P. M. Bohúň gallery next door, which claims to be Slovakia's second biggest art gallery, houses a collection of his lithographs and portraits.
Around Liptovský Mikuláš
Leaving Liptovský Mikuláš to visit surrounding areas could keep you busy for days. Just four kilometers to the south you can explore Jaskyňa slobody (The Cave of Freedom) and Ľadová jaskyňa (The Ice Cave) of Demänovská Valley. Bring a sweater and hiking shoes for this trip.
On every side of the city are churches, bell towers, and manor houses in smaller towns or villages. One of the most fascinating is outside of Svätý Kríž, where a large wooden church that holds 6000 people dates back to 1774 (See story below) .
Around the Liptovská Mara dam, adventurers can hike to the ruins of a 13th century medieval church, experience a reconstructed first century Celtic settlement, or take a dip in the thermal springs of Bešeňova. There is even a hunting museum. Travelling in the other direction, one can find castles, reservations of folk architecture, a medieval wallpainting in sacred buildings.
Martikán trains at the kayaking club along the Váh River , where two courses can be found - one for races and another for training. Spend some time watching teams from Slovakia, Poland, Russia, and the Czech Republic train.
Sights & Sounds Travel Tips
Informačné centrum mesta Liptovský Mikuláš - Nám. Mieru 1, tel.: 0849/186, 224 18, 514 449.
Hotel Elán- Ul. 1. mája 35, tel.: 0849/514 414, 514 595. 1 bed, breakfast, WC, shower: Slovaks 500 Sk, foreigners 80 DM. 2 beds, breakfast, WC, shower: Slovaks 890 Sk, foreigners 90 DM. Apartment 1000-1100Sk, foreigners 100-110 DM.
Hotel Bocian- Palučanská 38. 1 bed: foreigners 450 Sk. 2 beds: 700 Sk. 3 beds: 800 Sk. 4 beds: 900 Sk. Apartment: 1000 Sk.
Hotel Jánošík- Nábrežie Juraja Jánošíka, tel.: 0849/522 721. 1 bed: Slovaks 270 Sk foreigners 27 DM. 2 beds:Slovaks 440 Sk foreigners 36 DM. 3 beds: Slovaks 610 Sk foreigners 45 DM. Apartment: Slovaks 620 Sk foreigners 50 DM. They'll bend over backwards for their guests, but the building needs a refurbishment.
Liptovská Izba- Nám. Osloboditeľov. Mon-Sat 10:00-22:00, Sun 12:00-22:00. Traditional Slovak food. Great atmosphere, it feels like a wooden chata in the mountains.
Hotel Elán- Ul. 1. mája 35, tel. 0848/514 4143, 514 595. Mon-Fri 9:00-22:00, Sat-Sun 18:00-22:00.
Restaurant Fagos- Hodžova 18, tel. 0849/20 936. Mon-Sun 10:00-22:00. You can eat inside, or sit on the terrace where only drinks are served next to a small fountain.
Restaurant Fiesta- Hodžova 16. Mon-Sun 9:00-22:00.
Chinese restaurant- Nábr. 4. apríla 1998, tel.: 0849/224 66. Mon-Sun 11:00-22:00. Very good food.
Pizzeria- Palučanská 20. Mon-Sun 10:00-22:00. Best pizza in the town.
Roman Catholic Church of St. Nicolaus- Nám. Osloboditeľov 20, tel. 0849/221 42. Mon-Sat 9:00-18:00
Sun 8:00-18:00. Originally completed in 1280, 3 gothic altars.
Synagogue- Hollého 810/4. Tue-Sun 9:00-17:00. From 1731, restored after fire in 1906.
Literature and Historical Museum of Janko Kráľ- Nám. Osloboditeľov 31, tel.: 0849/225 54. Tue-Fri 9:00-16:00 Sat-Sun 10:00-17:00. History of this area.
Evangelical Church- Tranovského 8, tel.: 0849/221 46-call before coming. Worship Sun 9:00. Baroque with paintings by P.M. Bohúň.
Exhibition Tatrín and the Requirements of the Slovak Nation- Tranovského 8, tel.:0849/250 55. Tue-Fri 8:00 - 14:00. 1844 was Tatrín (national union) established.
Art Gallery of Peter Michal Bohúň- Tranovského 2. Tue-Fri 9:00 - 16:00, Sat-Sun, 9:00 - 13:00. Second biggest art gallery in Slovakia.
Jánošík's Prison- Vravovského 1. Tue-Fri 8:00 - 15:30, Sat-Sun 10:00 - 16:00. Prison of Juraj Jánošík (Slovak national folk hero) from 1713.
Franciscan church, monastery and garden- Kláštorná 31. Sun 9:30 worship. Most extensive gothic building in Liptov from 1480-1492.
24. Sep 1996 at 0:00 | Kim Briggs