Places to Visit in Slovakia – Slovakian Culture for kids

Slovakia is known for its lovely scenery, beautiful castles, lively cities and friendly people.  Within the country you can see many medieval castles and towns, folk architecture, spas and ski resorts.  More than 1.5 million people visit Slovakia each year. The most attractive places to visit are the capital of Bratislava and the Tatras. Most of the visitors come from the Czech Republic, Poland and Germany. Typical souvenirs are dolls dressed in folk costumes, ceramic items, crystal glass, carved wooden figures, crpaks (wooden pitchers), fujaras (a folk instrument) and valaska (a decorated folk hatchet).

The city has many attractions.  One of these is the symbol of the city, the Bratislava Castle which overlooks the Danube River. This castle includes four towers and appears on the Slovak euro coins. Another attraction is the New Bridge (Novy Most) from which you can see the whole city.  There is also a restaurant here.  The Old Town Hall is one of the most beautiful parts of the city with historical buildings. There, you can see the statues of a French Soldier, The Paparazzi, Cumil the Watcher and Schoener Naci. Other things to tour are St. Micheal’s Gate, Hviezdoslav Square, the Presidential Palace, Devin Castle, the Slovak Radio Building, the Museum of Clocks and the Bratislava Zoo.

The High Tatras are a mountain range and the symbol of Slovakia. These mountains appear on the shield of the Slovak flag. The highest peak of the High Tatras is Gerlachovsky Stit at 2655 meters. The mountains are visited often in the winter for skiing. The wildlife is also rich in the High Tatras with bear, wolf, fox and the Eurasian lynx.

The Slovak Paradise is a national park located in the eastern part of the country. It is a mountain range with gorges, canyons, valleys, caves and waterfalls. The highest peak is Predna Hola at 1545 meters. The Slovak Paradise has about 300 kilometers of hiking trails.  Here, you can tour the Dobsinska Ice Cave (Dobsinska Ladova Jaskyna) which is one of the most popular visitor’s sites in Slovakia. You many see wildlife of bear, wolf, marten, wildcat, deer, boar, and also some endangered species such as the Saker Falcon.

Kosice is the second largest city of Slovakia with a population of 240,000 people. It is located in the eastern part of the country. The most famous attraction and also the symbol of the city is the gothic St. Elisabeth Cathedral, which is the biggest church in Slovakia. Nearby is the Cathedral of the Singing Fountain which shoots up jets of water to music and neon lights at night. Other tourist places include the St. Michael Chapel, St. Urban Tower, State Theater, Old Town Hall, Old University, East Slovak Museum and the Slovak Technical Museum which includes a planetarium. There is also a zoo. Music and art lovers might enjoy the State Philharmonic Kosice, a professional symphonic orchestra, or the State Theatre Kosice (Statne Divadlo Kosice) which offers an assortment of drama, opera and ballet performances.

Bojnice is one of the oldest spa towns in western Slovakia which is best known for its various tourist attractions. The Bojnice Castle is one of the most famous and visited castle throughout central Europe. The International Ghosts and Spooks Festival is held here each year. Famous fairy-tale movies like Cave of the Golden Rose were filmed here. In front of the castle entrance there is the 700 year old King Matthias Tree. There is also a large zoo with over 350 species of animals.

Read More…

Slovakian Common Words and Phrases – Slovakian Culture for kids

Hello                                                       Ahoj (singular)      Ahojte (plural)

Pleased to meet you                                 Tesi ma

Good afternoon                                        Dobre popoludnie

Good evening                                           Dobry vecer

Good night                                               Dobru noc

Good morning                                           Dobre rano (used until 8:00 a.m.)/Dobry den

What’s your name?                                    Ako sa volate?

My name is …                                            Volam sa …

Have a nice day.                                        Pekny den! Pekny den prajem!

Excuse me                                                Prepacte!

Sorry                                                        Pardon!

Thank you                                                 Dakujem, Dakujem vam, Dakujem pekne

Read More…

Slovakian Children’s Songs – Slovakian Culture for kids

Kom Kom Kominar             Chim Chim Cimney Man (a nursery rhyme)

Tancuj, Tancuj Vykrucaj     Dance, Dance, Turn Around (a folk song)

Styri Kroky Dopredu           Four Steps Forward (a folk song and dance)

Dobru Noc                        Good Night (a lullaby)

Na Zelenej Luke                In the Green Meadow

Isli Pani Na Hrusky            The Men Went to Gather Pears (a hand-clapping rhyme)

Varila Mysicka Kasicku       Mother Mouse was Cooking Porridge (a finger play)

Oli, Oli, Janko                   Oli, Oli, Little John

Pec Nam Spadla               Our Oven Fell Down

Tap, tap, Tapusky            Pat-a-cake, Pat-a-cake

Spi deit’atko spize            Sleep, Baby sleep

Plava Kacka Po Jazere      The Duck Girl is Swimming in the Lake (a circle dance)

Kohutik Jaraby                The Spotted Rooster

Pumpovaly Dve Panenky   Two Maids Pumped the Pump (a finger play)

Vstavaj Jubo Hore            Wake Up, Jacob

Kolo, Kolo Mlynske           Wheel, Wheel of the Mill (a circle game)

Ked’som Chodil Do Skoly    When I Used to Go to School (a folk dance song)

Read More…

Slovak Alphabet, Language and Literature – Slovakian Culture for kids

The official language of Slovakia is Slovak, a member of the Slavik language family.  It is an Indo-European language used in the Slovak Republic, Czech Republic, the United States and other countries where ethnic Slovaks live. The language is similar to Czech and Polish.    There are nearly 6 million people who speak this language in the world.  Hungarian is widely spoken in the southern part of this country with Russia spoken in the northeast.  1/5 of the people living in Slovakia speak a language other than Slovak as their first language.  68% of the people living in Slovakia speak two languages in which Czech is the most popular choice.

The language is written using an alphabet of Latin origin.  One letter usually stands for one sound:

Lower case letters

a, á, ä, b, c, č, d, ď, dz, dž, e, é, f, g, h, ch, i, í, j, k, l, ĺ, ľ, m, n, ň, o, ó, p, q, r, ŕ, s, š, t, ť, u, ú, v,

w, x, y, ý, z, ž

Capital letters

A, Á, Ä, B, C, Č, D, Ď, DZ, DŽ, E, É, F, G, H, CH, I, Í, J, K, L, Ĺ, Ľ, M, N, Ň, O, Ó, P, Q, R, Ŕ, S, Š, T, Ť, U, Ú, V, W, X, Y, Ý, Z, Ž

Vowels

a, á, ä, e, é, i, í, o, ó, y, ý, u, ú

Consonants

b, c, č, d, ď, dz, dž, f, g, h, ch, j, k, l, ĺ, ľ, m, n, ň, p, q, r, ŕ, s, š, t, ť, v, w, x, z, ž

The best known Slovak hero, found in many folktales is Juraj Jánošík (1688 – 1713). The legend states that he takes from the poor to give to the rich, just like Robin Hood.

Read More…

Slovakian Traditional Music and Instruments – Slovakian Culture for kids

Music has always been an important part of Slovak cultural life.  Folk music and instruments were popular in the early part of the 19th century.  This music has helped shape modern Slovak music.  An example is the Slovak national anthem.  The anthem is based on a melody from a folk song, Kopala Studienku.

These are five popular folk instruments:

The Accordion

The accordion is a box-shaped musical instrument.  A person who plays this instrument is called an accordionist.  The instrument is played by compressing or expanding the bellows while pressing buttons of keys that cause the valves to open.  This allows the air to flow across strips of brass or steel called reeds. These vibrate to make sound.

The Cimbalom

The cimbalom is a concert hammered dulcimer made of a large box with metal strings stretched across its top. You play this instrument by striking two beaters against the strings.

The Fujara

The fujara originated in central Slovakia.  It is a large shepherd’s flute.  It belongs to the woodwind family.  There are three holes on the lower part of the instrument.  You blow into the top pipe while standing with the instrument held straight up.

The Koncovka

The knocovka is a flute without finger holes.  It was traditionally played by shepherds.  The koncovka is played by closing and opening the bottom hole of the flute.

The Ninera

The Ninera is a stringed instrument that makes sound by a crank-turned wheel rubbing against strings.  It functions similar to a violin or fiddle.  It has a sound board so you can hear the vibrations of the strings.  It is the Slovak version of the hurdy-gurdy.

Read More…

Slovakian History – Sloavkian Culture for kids

The Hungarians took over the land of Slovakia during 896 A.D.  Hungary remained in control of this land until 1918.   In 1981, Czecho-Slovakia was created from parts of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire.  The Czech provinces of Bohemia, Moravia and parts of Silesia (from the Austrian Empire) were combined with the lands of Slovakia and Ruthenia from the Kingdom of Hungary.

Slovak ancestors can be traced back 1500 years.  Celtic tribes (called the Slavs) settled the fertile plains near the Danube River.  In the ninth century, this area was part of the Great Moravian Empire which ruled the Slavic people beginning in 862 A.D. At this time, the Slavic Prince Rastislav invited Constantine and Methodius, two Byzantine brothers, to visit.  The Byzantines helped to civilize and Christianize the Slavs.  Later, the brothers were canonized as saints by the Pope.

During the Magyar Invasion, the empire was conquered and then the Hungarian rule began.  Through this all, the Slovaks kept their identity with their own language.  Instruction in schools was taught in Hungarian and church services were in Latin.

After WW I, the country became independent as a democratic republic, but then it fell to the Communists in 1948.  In 1990, the Czechs and the Slovaks fought against the communists and won independence.  In 1993, they split to form independent states and the Slovak Republic was reborn.  Czechoslovakia no longer existed.

Today’s Slovaks then are the descendants of the Slavic tribes who crossed the Carpathian Mountains during the 5th-6th centuries. It is a region where Celts once lived.

Read More…

Slovakian Festivals and Foods – Slovakian Culture for kids

The Vychodna Folklore Festival is the oldest and largest nationwide festival held in Slovakia each year.  Folk literature, music, dance and artwork are sold.

Some traditional Slovak foods include pork, poultry, potatoes, cabbage and milk products.  Game meat is a popular food choice with boar, rabbit and venison available throughout the year.  Lamb and goat are also eaten.  Popular meals are bryndzove halusky, bryndzove pirohy and other meals with potato dough and bryndza, a salty cheese made of sheep milk.  A typical soup is a sauerkraut soup known as kapustnica.  A blood sausage made from a pig is called jaternice and it is also a popular food.  Wine is enjoyed throughout the country.

Read More…

Slovakian Education – Slovakian Culture for kids

Education is highly valued in Slovakia.  There are over 50 museums and more than 2,500 public libraries.  There have been many scientific discoveries and inventions from people in this country.  Contributions range from developing the wireless telegraph and making the first motor-driven helicopter to inventing the first actively used parachute and the resonator guitar, creating a bionic arm and pioneering steam and gas turbines. The production of cars and high technology products are the two top industries.

Read More…