Nitra From a historical point of view, Nitra is considered to be the mother of Slovak towns, a centre of education and culture of Slovakia and one of the oldest settlements in the country. From the 9th century it was the seat of the Princes of Nitra and the sovereigns of the Great-Moravian Duchy and later of a successor to the Hungarian throne. In 830 the first historically documented Catholic Church in Slovakia was built and in 880 a bishopric was founded in Nitra. In 863 St. Cyril and St. Methodius, the Thessalonian brothers, came as missionaries and laid the foundations of Slavic literacy, education and culture. At the time, when the Great-Moravian Empire reached its climax, Nitra was its significant centre. In the 11th century, the town was the seat of the Bishop of Nitra and an administrative centre of the Hungarian comitatus (county district). The further development of Nitra was facilitated with a charter issued by Béla IV in 1248, which granted the town new liberties and the privileges of a free Royal town. From the 15th to the 17th century Nitra suffered a lot during the Wars with the Turks and in 1663 it was almost completely destroyed. At the beginning of the 18th century, the city was captured again. Rákoczys forces left it completely in ruins, so Nitra had to recover from the disaster: the houses were restored and many new significant buildings were added. The castle and the cathedral were rebuilt, the pilgrimage church of the Mother of God was restored and the construction of the Piaristic monastic complex was finished.The medieval city was divided into the Upper Town and the Lower Town; the latter arose from market settlements along the roads leading to the castle.
Opening of the Project Meeting by the Mayor at the Town Hall
The Castle of Nitra is a National Cultural Monument consisting of four individual parts. The Castle Fortification – The present fortification was gradually constructed through the 16th and 17th centuries. Bishop Pálfy ordered the massive wall to be built in 1673, during the reign of Leopold I (as it appears from the Latin inscription above the entrance), as a protection against the Turks. It is a star-shaped fortification system with five impressive bastions. On each bastion there is a stone carved portrait of one of Leopolds commanders.
Proglas is the Millennium Memorial located close to the Castle entrance. This work by Marián Žilík features the poetic preface to the Gospel, written by St. Constantine – Cyril using the original Cyrillic script.
Vazil´s Tower is another remaining part of the medieval fortification. The tower is named after Vazul (Vasil), who was the prince of Nitras domain at the beginning of the11th century. According to the legend, his life ended cruelly.The first Hungarian king Stephan I did not like his cousin Vazul. He disliked him so much that he imprisoned him in the Castle. He did not take into consideration the fact that Vazul had just become the prince of Nitra. Stephans only son, Imrich, died suddenly and the king named his nephew Peter Orseol as his successor. There was, however, a legitimate claim by Vazul and so the king sent an executioner to Nitra to blind the unfortunate prince and to pour hot lead into his ears. Later chroniclers justified his cruel act as a way to protect Christianity against the pagan prince Vazul. Another story says that a monk, Brother Fulgentius, called down a curse upon the city: For the eyes of prince Vazul, which were shining like two suns, there will be two days of dark in town. According to the old reports, the town was really darkened, because of many grasshoppers which destroyed the harvest.
The Statue of Prince Pribina represents the Slavic prince who lived and ruled in Nitra in the early 9th century and ordered the construction of Slovakia´s first Christian temple. The Statue, unveiled in 1989, was created by Tibor Bártfay, a native of Nitra. Even though at the beginning Prince Pribina was a heathen, he built the first Slovak Christian Church in Nitra in 828. The church served first his wife Adelaide, who came from the Bavarian duke family of Wilhelm. It was consecrated by archbishop Adalram from Salzburg. There is a report that Pribina built the church for his wife, who married him because of her big love in spite of his heathenism. Slovak archaeologists have searched for Pribina´s famous church for several centuries. At the beginning everything seemed to be very clear. The Romanesque chapel of Nitra castle had been considered the oldest Christian church in Slovakia. The excavations on the castle hill in 1930 did not support this theory. A grave dating from the 11th century was found under the building, which shifted the age of the church to the period when Prince Pribina had already died. Therefore, the archaeologists attention focused on other parts of the city.
The Grand Seminary is a protected cultural site. It was built under Bishop Gustíni in 1764 – 1770. It was designed by Schmidt and Lippert, but in 1876 – 1878, Bishop Roškováni had another wing added to the Baroque building. Now it houses the valuable Diocesan Library. It is protected as a National Cultural Monument hosting some sixty-six thousand volumes. 76 of them are rare 15th century prints (incunables). The Neo- Classical building of the Grand Seminary is regarded as one of Nitra´s architectural treasures.
The Canon House is a protected cultural site. The construction of this Empire style building in 1818 - 1921 was ordered by Bishop Kluch. It served the canon priests. The statue of Atlant (generally known as Corgoň) supporting the wall in the corner is a piece by Vavrinec Dunajský. Corgoň was a smith in the Upper Town. He had an enormous strength and everybody admired his stout body. According to the legend he saved the town from the first Turkish incursion. The hero of the legend, Corgon, is represented by the statue of Atlant, the son of Titan Jaspetos, condemned by God to hold the sphere forever. Above the entrance, a couple of angels are holding Bishop Kluch´s coat of arms. Attached to the House there is a low 17th century building. The gate of this building is exactly the same as the gate of Zobor Monastery.
The Marian Sculpture - also known as the Black Death Column – is located in front of the Castle entrance. The Baroque sculpture was built in 1750 by Bishop Eszterházy to commemorate the plague epidemics in 1710 and 1739. On the column top there is a statue of the Virgin Mary, while the lower part is covered with stone carvings depicting her life. The whole sculpture is a piece by M. Vogerle, an Austrian artist. It is one of the most valuable and most beautiful plague columns in Slovakia.
The Upper Church - This one-nave Gothic cathedral was built on the highest point of a rocky elevation on a narrow space between a steep hill and a Romanesque church, with which it is connected. The construction took place from 1333 to 1355. After 1711, when the castle lost its strategic importance, the whole cathedral complex was rebuilt in Baroque style after the design of the Italian architect Domenico Martinelli. The most precious monument of the Upper Church is the main altar of the Saviour, with a fresco by the Austrian painter Anton Galliarti. The Cathedral of the Castle is composed of three churches
The Lower Church is the latest section of the Cathedral, built between 1621 and 1642. The most precious object inside the church is a convex sculptured relief called The Deposition",by the Austrian artist Johann Pernegger. Under this sculpture, in a predella, there is a smaller marble relief with a scene of "The Burial of Christ". This sculpture has been ascribed to the renowned Italian sculptor Donatello or to his school.
St. Emeram´s Church The small Romanesque church is the oldest part in the Cathedral. Originally it was built in the 11th century. Later it was modified using Gothic architectural elements. Its present appearance is the result of a reconstruction in 1931 - 1933. The site is considered to be one of the possible locations of Slovakias first Christian temple, built by Pribina. St. Emeram´s hosts the remains of St. Andrew, St. Benedict and St. Constantine–Cyril. The relics of St. Cyril were sent here from Rome.
A sword as a symbol of peace – (at the entrance of the Museum) – The bronze sword is an enlarged copy of a sword found in a noblemans tomb in the 9th century. The bronze handle is covered with geometrical ornaments and masks. The blade is buried in the ground, which makes it a symbol of peace.
The Music clock is almost five metres tall and it is made chiefly of stone and bronze. The settlement of Nitra has always been dependent on the river, which is represented here by a bronze engraving on the lower part of the column. The double face clock, 90 centimetres in radius, is designed to recall the early 20th century. The clock strikes a high tone every quarter of an hour and a low tone every full hour; the latter is followed by a short tune, played according to a set order. In the morning you can hear a chicken and a rooster, then a series of Slovak folk instruments (the violin, the fujara, the cymbal and the bagpipes). At noon, a chorus of children sings the piece Nitra, dear Nitra. During the afternoon, the musical style moves from folk through modern to classic. At 10 p. m., French horns announce the coming of the night and after midnight, marked by Yesterday by The Beatles, the clock strikes every hour with short quiet tunes.
The Bronze well pump is a stone and bronze piece surrounded by a bronze grid, a Great Moravian symbol. The slender column of the pump ends in a breast shaped top, a symbol of persistence and of the secrets of life
The Town Theatre The central square is dominated by the new town theatre building which was designed by a group of architects led by Jozef Hlavica from the Institute of Design in Bratislava. The decoration of the interior was assigned to foremost art designers such as the national artist Tibor Bártfay and others. The most valuable work of art is the main curtain with the theme of Great Moravia. With regard to the past history of the central square, it is worth mentioning that in the Middle Ages the Parish Church of St. James with its tower stood on this spot. It was damaged during the Turkish wars. In the place of the tower, a Marian Column with a statue by the renowned Czech sculptor A. Brandl was later built.
The Synagogue is a protected cultural site. It was built in 1910 – 1911, following the project of L. Baumhorn, the designer of many other monumental synagogues across the former Hungarian Kingdom. It is a square structure with multi-storey galleries. The façade is richly decorated with Byzantine and other Oriental patterns. Across the street, there once stood the Uránia Cinema, which was destroyed by 1945 air raids.
St. Ladislav´s Piarist Church and Monastery. This complex of buildings is a protected cultural site. In 1698, the Piarist monastic order came to Nitra with the aim of educating poor children. The foundations of their church and monastery were laid in 1701. Frequent fires prevented the building from completion. In 1716, the almost completed church was destroyed by another fire. Instead of repeating the work, a new two-steeple church designed by Kristián Morvay, a Piarist monk, was built in 1742 – 1748. The most valuable part of the temple is the richly decorated main altar by M. Vogerle, an Austrian sculptor. The vaults supporting the roof are covered with three magnificent frescoes depicting the history of Slavic Nitra by Edmund Massányi, a native of the town. The small square in front of the temple includes statues of the 12 Apostles and a Baroque Calvary by A. Brandl.
The Virgin Marys Assumption Church is a protected cultural site. There was a temple standing on this site in the 13th century; the present late Renaissance building was completed in 1678. Pilgrims have been coming here since 1747. The present Calvary was built during the general reconstruction, including its 14 chapels with late 19th century stone carvings depicting the Passion of Christ and the Saint Cross Chapel on the top of the hill.
The Monastery (the Mission House on the Calvary) – the impressive Mission House was built in 1765 for the Nazarene Order. Nowadays the building is used by the Divine Word Society (Societas Verbi Dei), a Roman Catholic order, and by the Mission Museum, where we can see a permanent exhibition of artefacts collected by Roman Catholic missionaries across the world.
Agrokomplex In the sixties, Nitra became a place of an agricultural exposition, later a place of the all- state harvest-home celebrations and since 1974 the all-state agricultural exposition Agrokomplex has taken place here every year. The Slovak Museum of Agriculture collects objects of social life giving evidence of the agricultural origin and cultural traditions of the peasants community in Slovakia. The objects of the Open-air Museum (bakery, milk cooling equipment, mills, distillery, seed cleaner, school, oil presser, wax extractor, haylofts, bee house, winegrower's house) underline the irreplaceable importance of the exhibits collected and of the acquisition activities of the museum employees in 75 years. An attractive part of the open air museum is a narrow-gauged field railway. The exposition ground of Agrokomplex with its total area of 125 ha is the largest one in Slovakia.
THE ROMANESQUE CHURCH IN DRÁŽOVCE St. Michaels church is located near the village of Drážovce, which during the Great Moravian Empire was an important Slovak site and burial place. It is an important and dominant feature of the landscape, dating back to the early 12th century. In good weather the little church can be seen from Nitra Castle and all the way from Topoľčany. The Romanesque one-nave church ends in a semi-circular apse. The nave has got a flat ceiling and a two-level choir on the west side. The façade is plain. In the middle of the frontage there is a tower ending with a pyramidal roof. The church had two choirs, one below the tower and the other one on the Epistle Side. On the altar there were statues of St. Michael, St. Rochus, St. Rosalie, St. Sebastian and a painting of the Virgin Mary. This area originally belonged to Zobor monastery. The church became a parish church in 1787. Although the one-nave little church with its entry on the southern side underwent many modifications in nearly every century, it has retained its Romanesque look up to now. Near the church there is a cemetery with graves dating back to the 11th and the 17th centuries.
A curiosity: One of the motifs on the reverse side of the 50 SK (crowns) banknote is the silhouette of the medieval church at Dražovce, a symbol of early Christianity on our territory. A legend: A legend says that king St. Stefan had this church built because he believed that the hill was a holy place. When the work started, blood trickled from the stone hill, confirming that this was indeed hallowed ground. This story spread quickly and the church became a pilgrimage place. People visited the church only once a year, on St. Michaels day, when a special mass was served. One day a sexton was cleaning the church when he noticed a shiny figure before the altar paintings. He ran to the village, crying: A miracle happened. A shiny figure of the Virgin Mary with Jesus in her arms appeared in the church. Only few people believed the sextons story, but the Virgin Mary continued to appear again and again. Later a shepherd gave an explanation. He said that while he was walking past the church, he had heard a strange music coming from the church. He had looked inside and he had seen the Virgin Mary pointing sadly to the crumbling roof and walls. People understood the reason of her apparitions. Several centuries had passed since the church had been built and nobody had taken care of the building, so they decided to renovate it, and they have been taking care of this church ever since. A special mass is celebrated every year on September 29 th to honour Saint Michael on his name day.
A walk to the wildlife reserve ZOBORSKA LESOSTEP
The Spanish student Laura Lozano Medina was the only foreign guest to reach the top of the mountain
Demonstration of traditional lace making by a woman from Banská Bystrica (a master of the art)
Museum of the Slovak National Uprising in Banská Bystrica
The exposition presents the Slovakian anti- fascist resistance movement in Europe in the years 1939-1945. The exibition is divided into 13 chronologically ordered topics. Each of them represents a different chapter of the World and Slovak history events. Visitors can see short authentic documentary movies on plasma screens. Besides all this photographic and film information many three - dimensional objects are also displayed in the showcases.
One of the earliest references to Špania dolina dates from about 4000-4500 years ago. The village is situated in the eastern part of the Low Tatra Mountains. High quality mineral water springs are to be found in the area of Špania dolina. The village has got a long history of mining. Gold, silver and copper were the main articles of commerce in the history of the village. Heavy black copper contained about 60% of silver and therefore it was a very popular commodity for the Venetian merchants, who extracted the silver which was used to produce the famous Venetian mirrors. When Columbus anchored in Cuba, he had many copper rods and bars on board of his ship, which all originated from the Špania dolina region. The wreck of Columbuss ship was found in 1998 and bits of local copper were found on board. In 1992 copper was also used for the reconstruction of a church in Munich.
Špania dolina and lace making. Local women (and few men) are still keeping the local tradition of lace making alive. Beautiful and valuable lace of different shapes is made in the village and it is known all over the world. It can be made on request for those who prefer a particular size, shape or design. Some lace items can be seen in the small local lace making museum, where people can also find a book, written by the lady who presented us the lace making craft in Banská Bystrica
C O R O N A T I O N S P E E C H 1. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, friends, On behalf of our Election Committee, I am honoured to present the results of the election of the Queen of DESTINATION kingdom for the year 2007. I also wish to thank everyone who ran in the election and went through the examination. On the basis of the examination results, the Election Committee has decided to nominate Miss Melania for the post of the Queen of DESTINATION kingdom for the year 2007. Please, welcome our Queen. 2. The Coronation Oath a) Madam, is your Majesty willing to take the Coronation Oath? Queen: I am. b) Will you solemnly promise and swear to govern the People of DESTINATION kingdom according to their respective laws and customs? Queen: I solemnly promise to do so. c) Will you solemnly promise to be a good example for all your people in studying and living? Queen: I solemnly promise to do so. d) Will you solemnly promise to work tirelessly days and nights for the good name of our DESTINATION kingdom? Queen: I solemnly promise to do so. (Queen kneels saying these words:) The things which I have here before promised, I will perform and keep. Remember the motto of our kingdom: STUDY AND PLAY ALL THE DAY, TRAVEL AND MAKE NEW FRIENDS EVERYWHERE. 3. Your Majesty, as a representative of all the participants I do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that we, your people, will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Your Majesty, that we will well and truly serve Your Majesty, that we will loyally observe and obey all the orders of Your Majesty, and that we are prepared to work and do our best for the bright future of our DESTINATION kingdom. God bless and save the Queen! The coronation ceremony was followed by Slovak national dances performed by students of the school organized in an ensemble called Furmani.