Spectator on facebook

Spectator on facebook

A town without fortifications

RUŽOMBEROK is one of the few Slovak towns that did not have a fortification in Middle Ages. It did not even need it, as it lied on a kind of plateau and from both sides, it was protected by the rivers Revúca and Váh. 

(Source: Courtesy of B. Chovan)

The magic of its unusual location can be seen also in this nice postcard from the very beginning of the 20th century.

The Ružomberok “acropolis” is dominated by the Church of St Andrew. The tower contains the oldest bell in the Liptov region, called Andrej. It was cast in 1506. The church sits in an oblong square, surrounded by burgher houses. These used to be built from wood, as evidenced by the unique wooden verandas in this image.

Initially, exclusively Germans inhabited the upper part of the town. The Slovak population concentrated in Podhora, the town borough lying under the acropolis. This divide between the two ethnic groups symbolised their relationship. Germans had many more advantages, while Slovaks had to settle for a second-class position. However, this situation was prevailing in the whole country, and it took several centuries before Slovaks managed – gradually – to settle in the upper town.  

Upward mobility for Slovaks was accompanied by remorseless, and also endless, competition. The official market was in the upper part, while down below an unofficial market emerged. Those living “up” meticulously guarded their right of drawing beer and selling food, while those “down” below constantly broke the rules. No wonder that Ružomerok inhabitants often ended their disputes before the king.

The vertical dynamics thriving around the whole territory of current Slovakia gradually influenced both sides. Germans got more and more Slovak-ised, and Slovaks grew to learn a lot from their competitors, becoming more advanced economically and in their crafts.

 

By Branislav Chovan

Topic: History talks


Top stories

EU roaming fees to end on June 15 – in theory

Slovak customers still waiting to find out how mobile operators will implement change.

Archaeologist pieces together early history of what is now western Slovakia Photo

For an archaeologist, the most important thing is his most recent rare discovery, says Július Vavák.

Students visited Svätý Jur as part of their European Wanderer project

How to sell Slovak books to English readers

Slovak literature makes it to the big bookstores of London, but it is unlikely to become a bestseller yet.

On Wednesday, Slovak literature will be presented in one of the biggest bookstores in London. Among the new books translated into English is also the anthology of current Slovak prose selected and translated by Magdalena Mullek and Júlia Sherwood.

General Prosecutor filed a motion for the dissolution of ĽSNS

The Slovak Supreme Court received a motion to dissolve the extreme right ĽSNS party founded and led by Marian Kotleba.

Jaromír Čižnár