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Revving up religion

ON a road towards the town of Kežmarok in northern Slovakia is a road sign for the Veteran Car Museum. It directs you to the small municipality of Mlynica, hidden away under the High Tatras. The road bends a few times through fields before you get there. But do not be surprised if you miss your destination, because the museum is actually inside what was once an Evangelical church.


CAR enthusiasts worship modern icons.
photo: Michaela Brezinová

ON a road towards the town of Kežmarok in northern Slovakia is a road sign for the Veteran Car Museum. It directs you to the small municipality of Mlynica, hidden away under the High Tatras. The road bends a few times through fields before you get there. But do not be surprised if you miss your destination, because the museum is actually inside what was once an Evangelical church. From the outside it still resembles one, its white crumbling fasçade typical of many old ecclesiastical buildings. But once you go through the heavy wooden doors the only religious icons you will see are the ones worshipped by historical car enthusiasts.

Since 1997 this has been the home of the Poprad Veteran Car Club, whose members have not only created a charming museum but also saved the 173-year-old former church from falling into ruin.

Inside the building there is a sense of historical stillness, as the sunlight from the tiny windows concentrates its rays on the polished paintwork of the glorious exhibits. There are 12 veteran cars on show, allowing enough space to accommodate 14 motorbikes and, most unusually, a snowplough. This is indeed a house for the holy, where secrets issue forth from the walls to the machines, creating an atmosphere of unique nostalgia.

Both locals and tourists attend to pay their respects, and to admire the well-preserved fire engine, dating from 1936, and the 83-year-old motorbike, that starred in a Czech-Slovak co-production movie Útek do Budína. The old Tatra 603 car on show formerly belonged to the Czechoslovak President Gustáv Husák.

Most of the vehicles at the Poprad museum can still be driven, and often take part in competitions, meetings and, of course, films.

Michaela Brezinová is a journalist with the Tatranský Korzár daily.

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