SPECTACULAR SLOVAKIA WEEKLY

Without scythe enthusiasts, Slovakia's globally unique meadows would vanish

The latest news in Slovak culture and travel rounded up in one place.

Pictured is the Sharp Tower above the Lower Wahlenberg Lake in the Furkotská dolina valley in the High Tatras.Pictured is the Sharp Tower above the Lower Wahlenberg Lake in the Furkotská dolina valley in the High Tatras. (Source: Milan Kapusta/TASR)

This week, we are writing about the importance of scything and Slovakia's Sarah Bernhardt. We have animal news and travel tips to share as well.



Globally unique meadows almost vanished

Due to its wide variety of plant species, the special Kopanecké lúky (Kopanecké Meadows) in the Slovenský raj national park stand out. They even boast of a world record.

“In the meadows 54 species of taller plants grow within a 0.25m2 area. There is no known locality in the world where more plants grow in an area of this size,” said the head of the national park Tomáš Dražil.

In order for the mountain meadows to remain meadows, they must be cut every year, otherwise the nearby forest would take up the space. Because the hills are steep, they can only be scythed. Recently, a group of 80 volunteers – conservationists, foresters, and fans of scything – scythed the Kopanecké lúky.

However, Slovakia almost lost these meadows. They were scythed by people from the village of Vernár, where the Kopanecké lúky can be found, until 1975 when a cooperative farm was established in the village. The meadows gradually ceased to be used and taken care of.

The destruction of the meadows was eventually averted thanks to grants and scything after many years. The administration of the national park, the village of Vernár and scything enthusiasts organised the first scything event in Kopanecké lúky three years ago.

“Almost 50 years have passed since the abandonment of traditional farming and we must admit we cannot take care of the landscape as well as our fathers,” the Vernár mayor Vladimír Ondruš said.

However, more and more Vernár inhabitants take part in the scything event every year.

“I hope one day the locals will look after these meadows just like they did in the past,” Dražil said.

Weekend travel ideas:

  • Explore wine cellars in the Small Carpathian Wine Region. The next event will take place on August 28 in Pezinok.
  • The hike from the village of Borinka in the Bratislava Region to Pajštún Castle offers breathtaking views.
  • Pay a visit to the village of Červený Kláštor, raft down the Dunajec river, and get lost on the Polish side of the Pieniny mountains.


Reliving Bratislava's royal past

The Slovak capital will relive the times when it served as the coronation city of the Hungarian Kingdom.

Bratislava Coronation Days will take place on August 13-15, 2021.

Visitors can look forward to a coronation parade, a knight tournament, a concert in St Martin’s Cathedral, and free tours held in Slovak, German, English and Hungarian.

The tours will be held on August 13 and 14, and will include the most significant places connected to the coronation ceremony. The coronation parade will start on the afternoon of August 14 at Bratislava Castle and end in Main Square.

During the weekend, four Hungarian kings crowned in today’s Bratislava will be remembered - Ferdinand II, Maximilian II, Rudolf II, and Matthias. Find out more about the event here.

Altogether 10 Hungarian kings, one Hungarian queen and seven royal wives were crowned in the city between 1563 and 1830.

Other developments from this week:

  • One of the oldest traditional fairs in Slovakia, Radvanský jarmok, will take place in Banská Bystrica from September 10 to 12. Beekeeping, magic and folk medicine will be the main themes of the 363rd edition of the fair. (TASR)

  • Filmmakers are shooting the third season of the Amazon series Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan in the Kysuce region.

  • The Pride Košice festival will be held from August 21 to 29. The open-air exhibition Loading: Love is open and can be seen at the Kasárne/Kulturpark centre.
  • Visitors to Orava Castle can play a new quiz game that uses QR codes. The aim of the game is to see how much you remember from the castle tour. (TASR)
  • The city of Trnava has completed reconstruction on a seven-metre-long section of the city fortification walls by the north-eastern tower. (My Trnava)

Mama bear dies, two cubs orphaned

Earlier this week, a female bear and one of her cubs were hit and killed by a lorry in the central Slovak spa town of Turčianske Teplice.

The female bear was about 15 years old and weighed 117 kilograms. She had three cubs – a six-month-old male cub died and two others managed to survive.

“It is said that their cries had been heard from various places before they vanished in a cornfield,” Jaroslav Slašťan of the intervention team dealing with brown bears told the My Turiec website.

Despite their efforts, the shy and scared cubs ran away. The town informed citizens about two lonely little bears rambling around the town, though they were not dangerous.

“We assume the bear cubs will wander around the area where they lost their mother for some time; they will look for her,” Slašťan added.

If the team managed to catch the bear orphans, they would first check their health before placing them in a rehabilitation station in Zázrivá, northern Slovakia. However, Slašťan claimed the two cubs may survive in the wilderness.

“But if they encounter a large male, he will probably kill them. Wolves can also be a threat to the cubs,” he said.

This summer season Slovakia has been dealing with several bear-related incidents in or near human dwellings.

More animal news

  • Stork: The Snina district reports the highest number of newborn storks since 2003, when the regular monitoring of stork nests began. In 2021, 42 nesting couples have been reported.
  • Eagle: In the southwest of Slovakia, the number of nesting pairs of golden eagles increased year-on-year. While in 2019 conservationists registered 25 nesting pairs of this species, in 2020 they recorded 36 pairs. (SITA)
  • Falcon: A record number of young peregrine falcons, 121, were born in Slovakia this year. (TASR)
  • Squirrel: The protected grazing ground squirrel only lives in a few areas in Slovakia. It can be found in the following places in the Trnava Region: Trnava airport, Boleráz airport, and pastures above the village of Chtelnica. (TASR)

WEEKEND READ

Exhibition traces the story of Slovakia's 'Sarah Bernhardt'

She was an internationally acclaimed actress, and she also appeared on the front pages of major magazines. She was admired by both women and men.

Born and raised in Košice in a Jewish family, actress Mária Bárkány became famous mainly in Germany, but with her characters she travelled the world from St Petersburg to New York much like her contemporary and French diva, Sarah Bernhardt.

But while Bernhardt is remembered to this day, Bárkány eventually fell into oblivion.

The story of the actress from Košice is now being presented to people by the Jewish Museum of Prešov, which owns a collection of her items. Artefacts are being displayed at an exhibition in the Bratislava synagogue on Heydukova Street.


That's 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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