IT IS FASCINATING how much the names of towns and villages can reveal about their history. In the case of Zlaté Moravce, it is ancient history. It takes us back to the 9th and 10th centuries: the period when the Great Moravian principality spread over much of what is now Slovak territory. The old Slavonic state perished at the beginning of the 10th century but its existence is commemorated to this day through many titles and names.
For example, Moravany nad Váhom recalls a strategic ford on the way from a key Great-Moravian centre, Nitra, towards present-day Moravia. Zlaté Moravce stood at a crucial crossroads on the route leading from the east to Nitra. The crossroads are ‘Zlaté’ – i.e. golden – because of the garrison that used to dwell there, guarding a region rich in gold ores. The fact that gold was mined here is also recalled by the name of the nearby municipality of Zlatno.
In the closer and more distant surrounds of Nitra there are other municipalities whose names commemorate the livelihood and occupation of ancient local inhabitants.
In Nitranske Hrnčiarovce, there used to work hrnčiari (potters) producing vessels catering for the needs of Nitra Castle. In Štitáre, specialised craftsmen created štíty, or shields, for the army. The historical name of Krškany gives away the fact that this used to be a village of stone breakers and crushers whose products were then used for the construction of roads and walls or fortifications. And the name Malanta, for example, echoes the name of a magnate of Slavonic origin who lived to the north of Nitra.
This postcard from the 1920s features the church in Zlaté Moravce, painted by artist Jozef Holoubek.
11. Apr 2011 at 0:00 | By Branislav Chovan