Hello from The Slovak Spectator.
In a moment, you will listen to Slovak singer Karin Ann who sounds like Billie Eilish. We will also take you through some other culture and travel stories from this week, including a stolen ancient book and the best YouTube ads of 2020.
But first, let's enjoy this breathtaking view of Nitra.
Will Gemer medieval paintings earn European Heritage label?
Medieval frescoes painted on the walls of 12 churches in the Gemer and Malohont historical regions may become the very first Slovak sites to be awarded the European Heritage Label.
To date, 48 sites across Europe have won the label that aims to protect the places symbolising European history, values, and integration. None is in Slovakia, even though the country nominated two sites in the past ten years.
The Gemer wall paintings, more than 700 years old, provide excellent evidence of foreign contacts and cultural exchange within Europe, when Hungarian aristocrats, inspired by what they saw in Italy, invited Italian artists to come and paint frescoes in local churches. Interestingly, the paints used in the creation process were a by-product of mining and metallurgical activities in the region.
Four of the churches can be found in the Košice Region settlements (Štítnik, Ochtiná, Koceľovce, Plešivec) and the rest in the settlements of the Banská Bystrica Region (Chyžné, Kameňany, Rákoš, Šivetice, Kraskovo, Kyjatice, Rimavská Baňa, Rimavské Brezovo).
Moreover, the churches are part of the Gothic Route themed trail, mapping history and gems of the Gemer and Spiš regions.
A group of 13 experts appointed by European institutions will be assessing all the nominations throughout 2021.
The European Heritage Label was established in 2005 as an international initiative of 19 countries. Four Slovak sites were then awarded the label: churches in Kopčany and Kostoľany pod Tribečom, castle Červený Kameň, Milan Rastislav Štefánik Mound, and the Kremnica mint. When the EU took over the initiative in 2011, stricter terms were introduced for new applications.
Above the town of Levoča, the construction of a 36-metre observation tower has begun. The finished tower on the peak Javorina will provide visitors with a view of half of Slovakia, including several mountain ranges.
Čertova dolina (Devil’s Valley) near Tisovec, set in the Muránska planina national park, is a protected area with waterfalls, caves, and gorges. The Outlaw Jakub Surovec educational path, with a new ferrata, will guide you through the valley.
On the way to the Orešanský hrebeň (ridge), part of the Small Carpathians, you will climb through several peaks such as Holý vrch, Slepý vrch, and Bolehlav. You may also meet paragliders here and pass along a former chemical plant on the way back.
Kežmarok: the place of a valuable book heist
An ancient book on alchemy worth at least €30,000 has been stolen in the town of Kežmarok, eastern Slovakia, this week.
A thief replaced the 1506 book Alchymia Andreae Libavii, recognita, emendata, et aucta, tum dogmatibus et experimentis nonnullis with a sham, the police said.
Andreas Libavius was a German alchymist who wrote one of the first chemistry textbooks in the world.
The book had been kept in the Lyceum Library, housed in the former Lutheran grammar school, before the theft happened. The facility is the largest ancient school library in central Europe.
The library preserves 55 originals printed between 1470 and 1500, three thousand books from the 16th century, including original works by Erasmus of Rotterdam, Luther, Melanchthon, Jan Hus, Ján Amos Komenský, 1,400 newspapers and magazines published between the 17th and the 20th century, 600 music titles and much more.
Most watched YT ads by Slovaks: Dancing hamsters, Boney M and Bieber
Last year, Nike used comeback stories of Serena Williams, Tiger Woods and the like in its ad to remind Americans what people can be capable of regardless of age. As a result, its “Never Too Far Down to Come Back” ad became the most watched YouTube ad of 2020 in the US.
As for Slovakia, the most popular YT ads of last year lacked a deeper message, despite being fun thanks to catchy music and well-known personalities. It may come as no surprise that dancing hamsters promoting Dedoles socks, created by Somebody & Somebody, came first in Slovakia’s YouTube Ads Leaderboard 2020, hitting more than 5.2 million views since its premiere last April.
Another most watched Slovak YT ad of last year, created by Made by Vaculik for the Zlatý Bažant beer brand, makes use of Boney M’s hit Rasputin, but with a Slovak lyric promoting the Zlatý Bažant ’73 beer.
On the other hand, the retailer Kaufland was inspired by Justin Bieber in its shopping ad. A boy named Džastin Výber, which sounds like Justin Bieber when pronounced, takes people to Kaufland, pushing a royal trolley ahead of him with a facemask on.
Ads created for mobile operators Orange and O2, bookstore Martinus, McDonald’s, and St. NICOLAUS made it to the list of 10 most watched YT ads in Slovakia as well. The creative agencies Zaraguza and Triad Advertising both created two ads appearing on the list.
From Seattle back home. The new head of Bratislava Zoo
Júlia Hanuliaková began to campaign for animal rights as a teenager, and she has now become the next Bratislava Zoo director. The skilled zoo designer with US experience claims zoos are changing, taking on new tasks such as breeding endangered species and participating in animal reintroduction programmes. Read about her way to the job of her dreams.
- HISTORY: New archaeological artefacts have been discovered near Nemšová in the Trenčín Region. They will be put on display at Trenčín Castle.
- CONCERT: The Slovak Philharmonic will livestream another concert at 19:00 on March 5. You can listen to works by Dvořák, Smetana and Wagner if you tune in.
- FRANCE: The Month of Francophonie takes place throughout March.
Slovak Billie Eilish is called Karin Ann
She was bullied and felt anxious. To protect herself in some way, young Slovak musician Karin Ann found refuge in baggy shirts and hoodies, just like the US music star Billie Eilish, wrote the New York Times in an article on how the American singer helps young people find their own path to embracing themselves.
Eilish and Karin Ann, however, have more things in common, including making darker music. Their lyrics do not speak about sweet love, but rather about mental health, injustice and toxic relationships.
Recently, this new Slovak artist released a new music video for her next single babyboy, which she wrote at 15. The video shows how a young man cannot vote, is discriminated by those of other races, how he is not accepted for being heterosexual and the like.
In this way, Karin Ann decided to picture intolerance and discrimination, which have always been present in society, but from the other side.
That is it for this week. Have a restful weekend. See you next Friday.
- Peter @PeterDlhopolec