Hello from The Slovak Spectator,
In this week’s roundup, we are sharing planned architectural redesigns both in Bratislava and in nature, rediscovered ancient Jewish tombstones, and Slovakia’s unflattering score in the 2021 Best Countries Rankings.
But first, here is a story about the late Prince Philip’s legacy and sense of humour.
Duke of Edinburgh remembered by Slovaks
Slovaks who participated in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award in the past tell The Slovak Spectator how the award changed their lives and recall the Duke’s sense of humour, which they experienced when they met its founder, Prince Philip.
Places to visit
App guides tourists around Slovak Rome
Trnava has launched an audio city guide app called City Walk. Through 12 stories about the history of the city in eight languages, tourists can explore the city in an interesting way.
Castle entrance through tunnel
Set out on a trip with Valéria and Gabriela to Skalka, the oldest pilgrimage site in Slovakia, and Lednica Castle, which is accessible through a tunnel. Below the castle, you will find Catherine’s Cross and Stream.
Sauna to travel around Nitra Region
The town of Nitra is hoping to become the European Capital of Culture in 2026 and as the title will be shared with a Finnish town, a sauna is one of Nitra’s projects.
Look who has woken up!
Ground squirrels, which people associate with the national park Muránska planina, are awake and ready to find a partner. Donkeys will be returning to meadows in the park later.
Some of the ancient and dilapidating shelters for tourists around the country could feel a little snugger thanks to a triumphant crowdfunding campaign, which was initially to only start a conversation about shelters and architecture in nature, as Nina Hrabovská Francelová writes in her story.
While Canada came first in the latest U.S. News & World Report’s ranking, published on April 13, Slovakia ended up in 62nd place out of 78 countries.
BAV Group and the University of Pennsylvania, which put the report together, surveyed more than 17,000 people from across the globe, asking them to assess perceptions of 78 countries on 76 different metrics, including tourism, geographical attractions, racial equality, animal rights, and climate goals.
Slovakia dropped by ten places compared to 2020 when it came 52nd in overall rankings.
The report describes Slovakia as a country with ‘dramatic landscapes dominated by mountains’, also covering its history, economy and politics. In addition to underlining the importance of folk traditions and ice hockey as the most popular sport, the report notes that the parents of the late U.S. artist Andy Warhol emigrated from eastern Slovakia.
While the country’s profile may sound interesting, its performance in most categories appears catastrophic. It did fare quite well in the Social Purpose and Open for Business categories, ending in 33rd place respectively, though.
When it comes to the Adventure category, Slovakia ranked 62nd. The majority of global public opinion does not consider Slovakia 'fun' and 'sexy'.
The Culture Influence category shows that Slovakia is hardly seen as a trendsetter either, placing 65th. According to those polled, Slovakia is not 'trendy' at all and, for example, lacks strong consumer brands.
For the purpose of this roundup, we are going to touch on one more category – Heritage, in which Slovakia ranked 64th. In the ‘has great food’ attribute, the country obtained the score of 4.5 out of 100. Moreover, according to the report, Slovakia does not have many cultural and geographic attractions.
As for the neighbouring countries, Austria came 21st, Czech Republic ranked 45th, Poland ended in 43rd and Hungary 48th place.
Does this mean central Europe remains largely undiscovered? The report notes that people from four different regions were surveyed. Of the respondents, more than 10,000 were informed elites, almost 5,000 were business decision-makers, and nearly 6,000 people were considered general public.
Under the soil and layers of waste near the Orthodox Cemetery on Žižkova Street in Bratislava, more than 400 tombstones of immeasurable value were discovered.
“It is a rare discovery that was considered destroyed or lost for the past 80 years,” Bratislava Region chair Juraj Droba said. A large part of the original Jewish cemetery located in this area was destroyed in 1942-43, when a tram tunnel under Bratislava Castle was built, and the whole cemetery was thought to be lost.
The found tombstones mostly date from the 18th and 19th century. The discovery could not happen at a better time since this year the religious Jewish community in the city marks 730 years since the first written mention of the presence of Jews in Bratislava, the TASR newswire noted.
Among the finds are, for example, the tombstones of leading patrician families, such as the direct ancestors of the German poet Heinrich Heine and the revolutionary Karl Marx. A rather sad discovery is related to the double tombstone of the children of Rabbi Benjamin Wolf Pollak, one of the founders of the yeshiva, from 1719.
All tombstones will first get digitised and then some will be placed in the area of the Chatam Sofer monument, which represents the remains of the original Jewish cemetery.
SNP Square, Velvet Revolution Square and Stone Square, where the Old Market Hall and Tesco/Prior can be found, will merge into a unified walking zone public space with greenery meeting climatic requirements. They will be restored by German architects in four stages, starting at the top of SNP Square and gradually moving down.
Petržalka and Trnava to offer trees for adoption
Making the largest residential area in Slovakia – Bratislava’s borough of Petržalka – greener has become the latest goal of local authorities, announcing the launch of a tree adoption program.
Citizens, firms, and organisations will be able to look after a new tree for at least three years for free. The borough will plant new trees only on publicly available plots under its management or ownership.
In this way, Petržalka wants to better control what the public greenery looks like, stopping people from planting allergenic and invasive species and planting trees in the immediate vicinity of residential buildings.
Trnava will also be launching a similar project: ‘Tree in Your Garden.’ As it is difficult to plant trees in public spaces for infrastructure reasons, local authorities came up with the idea of supporting residents in planting trees.
“There are several streets in the city where it is impossible to plant trees but a few metres further, over the fences of private gardens, there would be some space,” said Ondrej Horváth of the Trnava Town Hall.
Locals will be able to pick their favourite type of tree. The initiative also hopes to attract firms, which could plant trees outside their buildings.
“It is essential to adapt as best as we can to the effects of climate change, which are inevitable,” said Peter Bročka, mayor of Trnava. In 2017, this municipality was named Slovakia’s environmentally-friendly city.
Television: The Slovak TV channel Markíza will co-produce the local version of the successful British dating reality show Love Island. Contestants will move to a villa on Gran Canaria. (ITV)
- Festival: One of the largest Slovak folk festivals, Východná, will be streamed online and free of charge. The event will start on June 30 and end on July 4.
- Display: Slovakia-based Ukrainian photographer Maryna Syrovatka has opened her exhibition ‘Closed Workplaces: We Face the Unknown”, portraying the lives of people in Slovakia affected by Covid, at the waterfront Rázusovo nábrežie in Bratislava. (TASR)
- Passport: Slovakia has the tenth most powerful passport in the world, enabling citizens to travel visa-free to 183 countries, according to the latest Henley Passport Index.
- Cycling: Hero Cycles, India’s largest bike producer, holds advanced talks with a Slovak e-cycle maker to set up a global manufacturing base in Slovakia. (India Times)
Ice-hockey: Nick Chudoba shares who are the Los Angeles Kings’ best Slovak ice-hockey players in history.
- Display: The town of Hlohovec opened the ‘After WWII’ exhibition on its square earlier this week, recounting the story of 15 war survivors. The display will end on May 7, when it moves to Levice. (Facebook)
Book: The Gemer-Malohont Museum in Rimavská Sobota has published a Slovak-Hungarian diary of local journalist Géza Haynik, describing his life in a Russian prison camp during the years 1916-1917.
Music: Slovak singer Karin Ann, compared to Billie Eilish, won a Munich Music Video Award for the babyboy video. (Facebook)
What to listen to:
Slovak rapping in English
This time, we are going to leave you with the rap song Immigrant K, released by a London-based rapper from Nitra, Slovakia, who goes by the name of Kaidžas.
Dropped in late 2020, some of the Nigerian media outlets have recently reported on the song as it features UK-based Nigerian rappers King David and OgaBoss, as well as US rapper Jadakiss.
That is it. Thank you for reading the Spectacular Slovakia weekly roundup. Have a restful weekend. See you next Friday.
- Peter @PeterDlhopolec
Have you got any questions? You can reach Peter at firstname.lastname@example.org.