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MUSEUM VILLAGE IS A COLLECTION OF SAVED RELICS

The ark of Slovakia found in Pribylina

In the shadow of Kriváň, the crooked peak that marks the eastern edge of the High Tatras, lies a perfect village. With its well-preserved cottages, its tall white church, and imposing manor house, the tiny hamlet in the woods just next to the village of Pribylina seems too good to be true. And in fact, it is. The whole town is really the Museum of the Liptov Village, a life-sized display of the history and folk culture of this rich region of central Slovakia. The church, houses, and outbuildings were all rescued from 11 villages that were flooded during the creation of the artificial lake Liptovská Mara in 1975. Local planners decided to move the most historically representative sites from each village to the meadow above Pribylina.


Going back in time. This wooden home along with the other buildings in Pribylina were saved from the flooded lake of Liptosky Mikulaš for an open air museum .
Photo courtesy of Liptov Region

In the shadow of Kriváň, the crooked peak that marks the eastern edge of the High Tatras, lies a perfect village. With its well-preserved cottages, its tall white church, and imposing manor house, the tiny hamlet in the woods just next to the village of Pribylina seems too good to be true.

And in fact, it is. The whole town is really the Museum of the Liptov Village, a life-sized display of the history and folk culture of this rich region of central Slovakia.

The church, houses, and outbuildings were all rescued from 11 villages that were flooded during the creation of the artificial lake Liptovská Mara in 1975. Local planners decided to move the most historically representative sites from each village to the meadow above Pribylina. Iveta Zuskinová, one of the ethnographers who helped create the museum, explained that "Pribylina is a monument to the flooded area and it was our aim to preserve as many sites as possible."

"We have there the church from Liptovská Mara, and the manor house from Parizovce," continued Zuskinová, who has been working at the Ethnographic Museum of Liptov for 25 years.

A living place

Zuskinová and the other founders did more than just move a few old buildings - they have created a living place. Walking through the gates (admission is just 30 Sk) is like stepping into a fantasy world. Each house has not only been restored but also furnished with traditional housewares.

Clothes that the residents might have worn, tools that they would have used, and the food that they would have eaten are all carefully laid out as if the owners have just left for a moment. Lives from all strata of society, from the lowliest one-room serf's cabin to the trophy-laden manor house, are presented. And clear descriptions on the outside of each building in Slovak, German, and English guide visitors through the exhibits.


The ambassadors of Liptov. Geese block the path from the replica town of Pribylina.
Hannah Wolfson

Peek into the house of the Kováč family, middle-class farmers, and explore the massive barn space. Or visit the tailor's house, the cobbler's workshop, or a family bedroom prepared for childbirth. There's even a blacksmith's forge, complete with a massive fire pit in the center. In the summer, animals range through the houses. Fat geese sit upon the doorsteps, and sheep and lithe goats keep the meadow in check. Horses and their foals, too, use the village lawns for pasture - young visitors can even hop on for a ride.

Also fun for kids - and adults - is the little one-room schoolhouse rescued from the village of Trnovec. Two-room, actually: one is filled with knee-high desks, a globe, and ancient primers; the other provided a modest apartment for the teacher. The toylike building even has a tiny bell tower.

It's hard to imagine the life these people might have led, sleeping five or six to a room, sharing a dozen square meters of living space, tending the massive hearth. But the details put into the exhibits, right down to embroidered pillow cases and portraits on the walls help carry the visitor back.

Festivals of folk life

But the Museum's monthly folklore demonstrations - they call them "Sundays," Zuskinová explained, as in Sheep Sunday or Blacksmith Sunday - are the real ticket back through time. However, because this is the first year the museum will remain open to visitors during the winter, museum staff have not planned any festivals for November of January.

Maybe they're just saving themselves up for the big December festival. To be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the 29th of the month, it is called, explicitly enough, "Christmas" (admission for foreigners: 25 Sk for children, 50 Sk for adults). Be prepared for traditional Slovak Christmas carols and folk dancing, craft exhibitions, and old-time holiday foods.

Sights & Sounds Travel Tips

Getting there

By train from Bratislava or Košice - take the train to Liptovský Mikuláš, the largest town in the Liptov region. From Liptovský Mikuláš there are five buses each day (5:35, 5:40, 7:55, 10:35, 2:15, 3:25, 4:30, and 7:55 M-F; 5:40, 7:55, 10:10, 2:15, 3:25, and 4:35 Saturday and Sunday.)
There is also one direct bus each day, leaving Bratislava at 5:40 and getting into Pribylina before noon. The bus returns from Pribylina at 15:48; tickets cost 198 Sk one-way.

Lodging and Dining

Liptovský Mikuláš has a number of hotels and restaurants; for more information call the Liptovský Mikuláš Information Center at 0849/224-18
There are plenty of places to stay in nearby villages as well, such as:

Penzion Mountain Sportsin Liptovský Jan-Dolina, which has a restaurant, bar, ski and mountain bike rentals, a fitness center and pool, paragliding, rafting, and a ski and climbing-school. 200 Sk for locals, 25 DM for foreigners. Tel/fax 0844/221-000.
Hotel Sankt-Johannin Liptovský Jan, which also has ski lessons, ski and bike rentals, and a fitness center as well as horseback riding and thermal baths. From 300-600 Sk locals, 25-45 DM foreigners. Tel/fax 0844/263-321.
Motel Esperantoin Pribylina, with prices from 100-175 Sk a bed for locals, 13-15 DM foreigners. Tel/fax: 0844/293-231.
Sporthotel Vavrišan, in Vavrišovo, from 130 Sk a bed locals, 160 Sk a bed foreigners out of season. Tel/fax: 0844/221-288 or 222-828.
For more information, contact the Information Center for Liptovský Hradok at 0844/ 210-47.

The number for the Museum of the Liptov Village in Pribylina is 0844/293-163; or call the Ethnography Museum in Liptovský Hradok at 0844/222-485.

Topic: Tourism and travel in Slovakia


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