Brhlovce: At home in a rock (from our archive)

The rock dwellings are Brhlovce’s main attraction.

BrhlovceBrhlovce (Source: Chris Togneri)

This is an article from our archive of travel guides, Spectacular Slovakia. We decided to publish this gem for our readers, making only necessary adjustments. Some of the writer’s observations from 2002 have changed, but much still holds true. For up-to-date information and feature stories, take a look at the latest edition of our Slovakia Travel Guide.

Marta Bozalková's home is carved into a rocky cliff. Located in the village of Brhlovce, her home - and several of her neighbours’ - attracts so much attention that she has turned it into a museum. Visitors can explore firsthand these curious homes.

Locals say their predecessors dug into the village’s stone cliffs seeking shelter from invading Turks in the 16th and 17th centuries. In 1983, the Communist government declared the homes a Reservation of Folk Architecture.

During a tour, Bozalková explains that a single room takes five years to carve out. A display of the required tools - hand-held pickaxe-like chisels with eight-inch steel heads - sits in one of the dug-out rooms.

Stairs from the ground floor lead to what was once an enclosed living room (the front wall weathered off about 150 years ago). Remnants of a fireplace are seen, the chimney sticking out of the soil on top of the cliff.

The tour also includes a display of traditional Slovak costume, ancient tools and brooms, cooking utensils, jars, pottery, baskets and walking canes. The rooms have been preserved to depict the interior design of the old days.

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The rock dwellings are Brhlovce’s main attraction, but the village also has a stately church 50 metres down the road from Bozalková’s digs. There is also a large, crumbling manor house. It is on the verge of collapse, Bozalková explains with irritation, because the three different owners cannot agree on what to do with it.

Getting to Brhlovce can be tricky. From Levice, take highway 51 north-east out of town, following signs for Žemberovce. Once there, take a right onto the road heading south. At the top of the following hill is a fork: go right. Once in town, ‘Rock Dwellings’ signs lead visitors to Bozalková’s front door.

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