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New books offer a view of Slovakia's beauties

IF THERE were any doubt that Slovakia is a country rich in natural and cultural heritage, the latest books by the Dajama publishing house put an end to it.

IF THERE were any doubt that Slovakia is a country rich in natural and cultural heritage, the latest books by the Dajama publishing house put an end to it.

At the end of last year, Dajama introduced four new books: Most Beautiful Towns, Castles - Most Beautiful Ruins, Technical Monuments, and Highest Peaks, the first three of which are available in English.

Most Beautiful Towns is the second book in Dajama's Cultural Heritage of Slovakia series. The first, Wooden Churches, was dedicated to sacred wooden architecture and churches in eastern Slovakia.

Most Beautiful Towns is a guide book that explores 18 urban areas, including Bratislava, Košice, Bardejov, Banská Štiavnica and Spišská Kapitula, just to name a few. Many of the sites are on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

"Some of them have been listed as conservation areas for 57 years," said Viera Dvořáková, the book's co-author. "Štiavnické Bane is the newest. It was declared a protected site in 1995."

"These areas are as precious as a family's silver," she said. "They are exceptional localities of our history that should be spared the pressure from investors."

Each town gets one chapter about its history and most interesting sites. Bigger places are accompanied by a map of its historical sites. The chapter also includes some local legends about the towns and its history.

Castles - Most Beautiful Ruins by Jaroslav Nešpor and Daniel Kollár is also part of the Cultural Heritage of Slovakia series.

The authors chose to profile 33 castles that have become symbols of their region as well as popular tourist attractions.

To differentiate their book from all the other guide books, the authors included detailed information on how to get to the castle, a brief summary of its history, comments on its current condition and recommendations on interesting sites in its vicinity. Tales about the castles' inhabitants, as well as old pictures and current photos, are an invaluable aspect of the book that give readers a well-rounded perspective on the place before they visit.

Technical Monuments is the last of the books that's available in English. It takes the reader on a tour of the most interesting technical monuments in Slovakia.

Slovakia was mostly an agricultural country throughout its history, but is rich in technical monuments related to mining and ore processing. Technical monuments are often the most endangered monuments in Slovakia these days because they are not considered to be as interesting to tourists as historical sites.

Slovakia has several hundred technical monuments, including mills, reservoirs, mining facilities and bridges. Many of them are included on tourist routes.

Some of the monuments the book examines are the 18th-century system of artificial water reservoirs called tajchy in the mining town Banská Štiavnica; the Kremnica Mint, which has been produced coins uninterrupted for more than 670 years; and the Warehouse No. 7, which is being reconstructed in one of Bratislava's ports.

This book also provides readers with detailed information on the sites, as well as maps, historical pictures and current photos.

Highest Peaks, the second book in the Natural Heritage of Slovakia edition (only in Slovak), looks at the highest peaks of all the Slovak mountain ranges that are both at least 1,000 metres high and accessible via a tourist trail. The list of 33 peaks includes Slovakia's highest, Gerlach Peak, even though it is accessible only with a mountain guide.

The book's author František Kele, is an experienced hiker and traveller who has ascended many of these peaks several times and climbed three of them for the first time while writing the book.

As well as useful information about the peaks, including the history of their names, the book also contains 3-D maps that help readers see for themselves which trails to take and what the view is like from them.

"Nobody in Slovakia makes these kinds of 3-D maps, so we had to turn to the Kartografia company in Prague," Daniel Kollár said.

All four of Dajama's latest books are beautiful as well as useful for tourists looking to discover Slovakia's sites of natural and historical importance. By publishing them, Dajama's continues its tradition of informative books that help Slovaks and foreigners uncover historical and natural heritage, without overwhelming them with historical data.

Dajama was founded in 1995 with the mission of promoting Slovakia and its cross-border regions. Many of its books are published in foreign languages such as English, German, Polish and Hungarian.

Since January 2004, Dajama has also been publishing the bimonthly Krásy Slovenska (Beauties of Slovakia), a magazine dating back to 1921.

For more information about Dajama or to order a book, go to www.dajama.sk.

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