Folktales, Legends, and Stories


Slovak Wooden Villages


Slovaks were bound to the surroundings in which they lived. They took from it all they needed for their living – wood, clay or stone. Wood especially was the material which accompanied Slovaks, literally, from the cradle to the grave. Modernization, however, displaced objects which our forefathers used daily and gave them the role of museum pieces. Their dwellings also disappeared from villages. Only the most valuable ones are protected in memorial reservations of folk architecture or are removed to artificial villages, i.e. museums of the Slovak village.

The largest of these is the Museum of the Slovak Village near Martin. The Orava Museum has a nice location near the village of Zuberec. The Liptov Museum, out in nature, is in Pribilyna village, and below the ľubovňany castle is the Museum of Zamagurie Village, in which presently there is a unique forest railway. Other museums are in Nitra, Banská štiavnica, Vychylovka, Humenňe, Svidník, and the health resort of Bardejov Spa. Museums in nature are valuable evidence of the life of Slovak people.

The first museum of folk architecture in the world was built in Sweden in 1891. A new way of presenting folk tradition was instituted by Dr. Artur Hazelius who began to write the history of museums of folk architecture at the site of a former royal enclosure in Stockholm, called Skanzen. There the following words are etched in stone: “There may come a day when all the world’s gold will be insufficient to re-create an image of times past”.

Museums of folk architecture were first considered in Slovakia, by ethnographers and conservationists at the end of the 1950’s but implemented only in the middle of the 1960’s. The first exhibit of folk architecture in Slovakia was opened to the public at the Bardejov Spa on August 19, 1965. The exhibit gives the visitor a view of a wide range of timbered Carpathian houses, types of farm buildings, certain sacral and functional buildings, and above all, the life styles and culture of people for their part of the šariš and Zemplín region.

With Slovaks’ respect for wooden structures comes their respect of their natural forests. Today Slovakia is still very careful in preserving their forests. On November 19, 2004, the most beautiful mountains in Slovakia were hit by an unprecedented storm. Winds of more than 100 miles per hour completely destroyed one quarter of the High Tatras forest - almost 30 thousand acres, roughly equal to one year of wood production in Slovakia. It is the largest ecological catastrophe in Slovakia in the last 100 years.

In the past several years some of the damage has been repaired. However the reforestation of the area could take up to 20 years. The Slovak Government had mobilized all necessary means to repair the damage so the High Tatras, the treasure and symbol of pride for Slovakia, could be returned to normal as soon as possible. 

Further information about granaries, barns, blacksmith workshops, Goral Mountain Settlements and other wooden structures in Slovakia can be found in our book Slovak Folk Customs and Traditions.

Bardejov Spa Svidník Barn
Svidník Granary Svidník Hay Wagon
Svidník Home Svidník Wells
Home with white decorations Snow covered home