THE RIVER Váh flows in a deep canyon between the towns of Žilina and Ružomberok. In one of its most abstruse parts one can still find the ruins of the Starhrad castle. At first sight, the ruins appear quite lonely, but just around the river's bend, another castle, Strečno, protrudes on a rocky cliff.
Over the ages, these two "eagle nests" have fought endlessly against one another. The well known owners of Starhrad, the Pongrács, endured many eventful experiences during their residence there, including two large fires. The wife of Ján Pongrác caused the first fire accidentally, and the second fire was the doings of a Slovak-speaking Turkish saboteur who broke into the castle during the Ottoman invasion of the Hungarian monarchy.
This picture, taken 80 years ago, shows how intensively people used wood in those times. The almost bare hillsides do not at all resemble the heavily forested slopes found there today.
Prepared by Branislav Chovan,
Special to the Spectator