Instead of love, "garden gnomes" cause uproar in a Slovak UNESCO town

Your weekly dose of easy reads about Slovakia.

An interactive statue by the Love Bank museum in Banská Štiavnica.An interactive statue by the Love Bank museum in Banská Štiavnica. (Source: Banka Lásky/Facebook)

Hello. We are writing about Slovakia's EURO 2020 campaign, a divisive city game, and geoparks in this week's Spectacular Slovakia weekly roundup.

Czech actress Libuše Šafránková, who starred in the iconic Czechoslovak Christmas film “Three Gifts for Cinderella Czech actress Libuše Šafránková, who starred in the iconic Czechoslovak Christmas film “Three Gifts for Cinderella" (1973), died at the age of 68 on June 9, 2021. The media in Norway also covered the death of "Cinderella" since the Norwegians have loved the film for years. (Source: Pinterest)

Seen as an outsider, Slovakia ready to beat Poland

It was the second-biggest success for Slovak football when the country made it to the round of 16 at EURO 2016. Five years on, the Slovak team is determined to prove that it has worked hard and that its spot at this year’s EURO is well-deserved.

“We do not want to disappoint anyone, and we really want to achieve something,” said midfielder Juraj Kucka. The player helped Slovakia make it to the round of 16 at EURO five years ago as well as to the FIFA World Cup in 2010, which is still regarded as the country’s biggest football achievement.

The team left for Russia several days ago and all the footballers are feeling great ahead of their first game against Poland, which takes place on June 14. Slovakia will also play against Spain and Sweden in the group, which are considered better teams.

“Nobody really believes that Slovakia will go very far at this tournament, but I can see them advancing from the group at least,” Slovak journalist Rastislav Hríbik predicted for UEFA.

Slovak defender Martin Valjent believes the first match against Poland will be crucial, adding the lack of goals is the biggest problem of the team, not the defense.

“That result will affect many other things,” he told the Futbalsfz.sk website.

It is not clear which players will play in the match against Poland. Even though all 26 players left for Saint Petersburg, Ivan Schranz and Marek Hamšík are recovering from health problems. Their coach Samuel Slovák still believes Slovakia can make a splash at this year’s EURO.

“The Poles have many good players plus one Lewandowski, we all know that,” Slovák said. “We have a strong squad and good players as well.”

Slovak players are aware of Lewandowski’s qualities but they are not throwing in the towel.

“The truth lies on the field. There we will see who is better,” midfielder Ján Greguš said.

Ice hockey: After the withdrawal of Yunost Minsk, Slovan Bratislava has been allocated a wild card and will play in Europe’s Champions Hockey League (CHL) during the upcoming season. The Slovak club will play its first game in late August.

Football: The captain of the Slovak national football team, Marek Hamšík, is leaving IFK Göteborg and joining the Turkish club Trabzonspor.

Ice Hockey World Championship: With 11 points, the Slovak ice hockey forward Peter Cehlárik came fifth in a table of scoring leaders at the Ice Hockey World Championship held in Riga, Latvia.

A city game has caused outrage in a UNESCO town

In a letter to his lover Marína Pischlová, poet Andrej Sládkovič writes that there are two kinds of people – those who have not been to Banská Štiavnica and those who have. A new city game recently launched in the town suggests there two more kinds of people – those who love the game and those who do not.

The game that celebrates the love of Sládkovič and Pischlová and the poet’s love poem, which happens to be the longest love poem in the world, is based on a search for benches scattered in and around Banská Štiavnica. Each bench represents a place where the two lovers shared their affection back in the 19th century.

“A different love line is engraved in each of these 21 places,” said Igor Brossmann of the Marína a Sládkovič organisation.

On every bench, tourists can also spot a statuette of a couple in love reading a book. A bigger, interactive version of the statuettes is located by the house where Pischlová lived, and where the unique Love Bank museum is housed.

Unlike tourists, some of the locals are outraged by the statuettes of different colours.

“They could serve as new ‘garden gnomes.’ Must have!” one Facebook user said.

Many showered the Love Bank’s new initiative with criticism, saying the statuettes look cheap and unoriginal and do not belong to the ancient town that is on the UNESCO list.

Other developments this week:

  • ADRA Slovensko is offering an opportunity to become a volunteer in Serbia. The deadline for submitting an application falls on June 15.
  • The Rusyns, the third-largest minority in Slovakia, will celebrate “their day” in Medzilaborce, eastern Slovakia, on June 12. (TASR)
  • A baby zebra, which has been given the name Malala, was born in Bojnice National Zoo. Watch the video.
  • The League Against Cancer (LPR) has launched its 25th Daffodils Day public charitable collection. Volunteers will not be selling daffodils on the street this year due to the pandemic. Still, people can support cancer patients online or by sending a text message by June 20. People can download their daffodil here.
  • In Košice Zoo, three baby western Siberian eagle owls were born.

The richness of underrated Slovak geoparks

Slovakia's image as a tourist destination depends heavily on its capital and the Tatra Mountains while other spectacular places, including geoparks, are often skipped by tourists. Even many Slovaks would fail to name four geoparks that Slovakia boasts of.

Geopark Malé Karpaty, near Bratislava, was been added to the list only recently on the occasion of European Geoparks Week. These territories serve as a modern green tourism tool and represent a new way of spending leisure time. Simultaneously, they help protect and educate people through different stories.

The complicated geological structure of the Small Carpathians, high geological and biological diversity and the culture influenced by them are a source of many stories. Visitors can find here plenty of exceptional localities, including Devín Castle, Sandberg, Marianka, the mining area between Pernek and Pezinok, vineyards, as well as the karst areas around the cave Driny and the village of Plavecké Podhradie.

The other three Slovak geoparks can be found in the Banská Bystrica Region. One of them, Novohrad – Nógrád, is located in the south of central Slovakia and extends beyond the Slovak-Hungarian border. Two other geoparks spread in and around the towns of Banská Štiavnica and Banská Bystrica.

For the time being, eastern Slovakia boasts none. However, there is an effort to create a geopark in the Zemplín region.


  • Castle: A region set in the Tríbeč Mountains hides the castle ruins of Gýmeš and Hrušov and a summer residence of Czechoslovak presidents.
  • Frogs: As part of the revitalisation of the area around a water dam near the town of Levoča, a walkway presenting the life of frogs will surround the dam.
  • Walking tour: Visitors to the Tatras region can find out more about the history of the villages Nový Smokovec and Starý Smokovec during a free guided walking tour during the weekend.
  • Castle: Spiš Castle is essentially a ruin and one of the largest castles in the country at the same time, attracting many tourists every season.
  • Malá Fatra: The green hiking trail 5660 from Tiesňavy to Vrchpodžiar within the national park will be closed until August 15 due to the nesting of the golden eagle.


How to plan a holiday in Slovakia

The world is reopening to travellers, and so is Slovakia. Although the pandemic is in retreat, there are still travel requirements that visitors to Slovakia must follow.

To help you navigate through often confusing coronavirus information on travel, we have published a Q&A guide that will be regularly updated. If you do not find an answer to your question on the list, get in contact with us. We will do our best to get the answer for you from the Slovak authorities.

And what questions have we covered so far? Summer festivals, tourist attractions, travel rules, as well as accommodation.


The untapped potential of the Petržalka embankment

The Tyršovo embankment near the Old Bridge in Petržalka borough is one of the most valuable localities in Bratislava. Nevertheless, its potential has not been fully utilised as a large section is used as an unofficial parking lot and a camping site.

Bratislava plans an extensive revitalisation of the venue based on an architectural tender. In the meantime, the city has been carrying out small procedures to improve the area.

In brief:

  • Outdoor swimming pools in Bratislava will reopen on June 12. People can buy a ticket online.
  • The International Women’s Club of Bratislava will sell a selection of quality used books in different languages at a book fair in Bratislava on June 12. Every purchased book will help a child in need.
  • Prüger-Wallner Garden near the Horský park green area, an oasis for children, has been officially opened. The garden is open every day of the week. (TASR)
  • A total of 124 new electronic information boards have been installed at 118 public transport stops.
  • A flea market organised by the city will take place on Bazová Street on June 26-27. People can bring the usable things they do not need anymore to the OLO headquarters on Ivanská cesta until June 23.

A read for your weekend

Haggling over the future of the SNP Museum

The 1944 uprising against the Nazi-allied regime, part of the European anti-fascist resistance, is seen as a defining moment in the history of present-day Slovakia.

The museum, established in 1955, has documented and remembered the Slovak National Uprising (SNP), located in the city of Banská Bystrica, the centre of the resistance movement during the war. The iconic building, designed by architect Dušan Kuzma, is the venue for the annual celebrations of the SNP anniversary on August 29.

The SNP Museum has recently found itself in the middle of a conflict between its management, national and international historians, and the government, after the Culture Ministry and the Defence Ministry agreed that the museum will effectively be transferred under the control of the latter.

Read this story to learn more about why some see a problem in the transfer.

That is it for now. Thanks for joining me. Have a great weekend. - Peter

Do you have any tips? You can reach Peter at peter.dlhopolec@spectator.sk.

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