World Heritage Site in Slovakia


Vlkolinec (in English meaning something like Wolf´s Place) is a small village near Ruzomberok (northern Slovakia). It is an excellent sample of the old rustical architecture. Vlkolinec is village with two rows of houses with long court yards. This is the only village in Slovakia that has not been disturbed by new development. The houses do not have tap water, the water well is located by the road in the middle of the village, housed in a wooden shed. Chickens and other farm animals roam unnoticed freely in the village and there is a sense of peace and tranquillity there. Some houses are used as cottages (weekend houses), some are still settled by aborigines. In 1993 there were 30 people living in the village, including two children. One house is arranged as a village life museum and an information center. (About a third of the houses are the ruins, or the houses were burned down during the national uprising in the Second World War.)

There are many open air museums in Slovakia, but there is just one living preservation of folk architecture which has been included in the List of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage because of its uniquness - the village of Vlkolinec. The history of Vlkolinec was determined by its relationship to the Likava mansion and Ruzomberok of which Vlkolinec is today a part. The first written mention of the settlement dates from 1376. The name of Vlkolinec is connected with the regulation from 1630 which says that the inhabitants of the village have to maintain wolves' dens. Why is Vlkolinec considered to be exceptional by UNESCO? It is not only because it represents the best preserved group of original buildings, but also because it is a unique area of its kind in the wide context of the surrounding countries. In Vlkolinec there are 45 homes which are mostly inhabited, whose wooden architecture is characteristic of the mountaineous regions of Liptov, Turiec, Orava and Kysuce. There are several archituctural jewels. The well and the bell-tower are among them. They both played important parts in the past; the well is still the only source of drinking water in the village. The bell-foundry was built in 1770, the baroque-classical church (of Our Lady) in 1875. The specialists stress that although similar buildings have been preserved in Poland, Hungary and Ukraine, they are less authentic, do not preserve so many old elements and primarily they are not found in such a compact unit as is Vlkolinec.

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