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Top Pick: Heritage festival shows off national culture

AN ANNUAL festival celebrating Slovakia's historical monuments in September will allow thousands of tourists and local citizens to tour sites normally closed to the public.
The festival is part of a yearly Europe-wide celebration of history called European Heritage Days (in Slovakia known as Dni európskeho kultúrneho dedičstva). As millions of people across the continent visit historical monuments during the coming month, Slovaks too will be flocking to their country's most famous - as well as least known - cultural landmarks.
"The main point of the festival is to focus on the public, which means making cultural values accessible to everyone," said Jaroslav Liptay of the Ministry of Culture, which is supervising the event in this country.


ONE of the churches open for visits.
photo: Ministry of Culture

AN ANNUAL festival celebrating Slovakia's historical monuments in September will allow thousands of tourists and local citizens to tour sites normally closed to the public.

The festival is part of a yearly Europe-wide celebration of history called European Heritage Days (in Slovakia known as Dni európskeho kultúrneho dedičstva). As millions of people across the continent visit historical monuments during the coming month, Slovaks too will be flocking to their country's most famous - as well as least known - cultural landmarks.

"The main point of the festival is to focus on the public, which means making cultural values accessible to everyone," said Jaroslav Liptay of the Ministry of Culture, which is supervising the event in this country.

This year, the 11th time Slovakia has participated in the larger European event, about 150 cultural monuments in over 50 towns and villages will be open to visitors.

"People will get to see some monuments that are closed during the year," said Liptay.

Among the less-visited sites are churches that are normally open only for mass, such as cathedrals in Bratislava, Trnava and Nitra, the Dome of St. Elisabeth in Košice, and the Church of St. Jacob in Levoča with a famous altar made by Master Pavol in the 15th century.

Better-known sites, which can be visited year-round, feature special events during the festival, such as Orava Castle (historical games), Bojnice Castle (night exhibition) and the Liptovská dedina Museum in Pribylina (traditional habits of the nation).

The highlight of the month-long event is a 'Climb of 101 Slovak castles', organised every year by the Castle Club. People participating will explore different castles on different days (call 02/4329-2478 for programme and castle climb dates).

Nitra in central Slovakia will touch off events in this country. Museums, galleries and castles around the nation will offer concerts and exhibitions once the Nitra event is over.

This year's festival in Slovakia will be dominated by a religious theme, and the opening ceremony (see box for details) on the second weekend of September will be called 'Ecclesiastical Monuments - the Sources of Culture'.

Liptay said he hoped the festival would rekindle wider interest in preserving the nation's heritage, particularly in coming years as local authorities continue to sell off heritage buildings to private buyers in a desperate effort to preserve them.

"It's very important to spark the interest of the public in cultural values in general," the ministry official said. "Without continuity from the past no society can progress."

Opening Ceremony of European

Heritage Days:
September 6: Opening ceremony in Nitra, 14:00, Ponitrianske múzeum (Regional Museum of Nitra). Main festival exhibition, 19:00, Katedrála - Nitra Castle. Concert of cathedral music, 19:00,
Katedrála - Nitra Castle.
September 7: Presentation of ecclesiastical monuments, 09:30, Ponitrianske múzeum. Trip to Church of St. George, 15:00 (bus leaves at 14:30 from Župné námestie).
Admission: free.
For more information call: 02/5939-1407 or visit www.culture.gov.sk

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