The rich and diverse history of Slovakia stretches over 4000 years. The region, characterised by the crucial Carpathian mountains and the fertile Danube River lowlands, has seen an array of peoples, tribes, and empires leaving their influences. From the Celts, Romans, and Germanic tribes to the Avars, the region was at one time the northern frontier of the Roman Empire. Around the 9th century, Slavs entered the scene, establishing the Great Moravian Empire, evidence of which can be seen in the gothic cathedrals and fortified towns. Mining areas like Kremnica further reflect the empire’s advanced nature. From the 10th century, the region was part of powerful political entities including the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Habsburg Empire, and the Czechoslovak Federation. It was also a protectorate state of Nazi Germany during WWII. On January 1, 1993, the Slovak Republic emerged independently following the ‘Velvet Divorce’ from Czechoslovakia. History enthusiasts volunteering with our Wolf and Lynx Tracking project in Slovakia can delve into this rich past.
Tracing their origins to agricultural communities, the Slovak people exhibit a strong connection to the land. Their reserved yet friendly demeanour is a cornerstone of the country’s cultural fabric. The Slovak language, a written form of which emerged at the end of the 18th century, belongs to the West Slavic languages, mutually intelligible with Czech. Most traditions, food, and customs carry influences from Czechs, Hungarians, and the Austrian Habsburgs.
Slovak food, known for its regional variation, heavily features meat, potatoes, dumplings, thick sauces, cheeses, and stews. The country’s famous dish, Halušky, similar to Gnocchi, and sauerkraut, are worth a taste. Slovakia also boasts a strong tradition in folk arts and crafts, such as wood carving, fabric weaving, and glass painting. Architecture in the country is characterised by wooden structures.
National consciousness emerged around the 1700s, emphasising ethnic identity through literature, music, and folk customs. Numerous folklore festivals held around the country present the customs of individual regions. Many customs centre around nature or Christianity, with each day of Easter week carrying its own traditions. Region-specific traditions are also common.
There are many castles, fortifications, fascinating caves, and outdoor museums across Slovakia, many of which are UNESCO sites. The Tara Mountains, where our project is located, is a popular summer outdoor destination, with its rugged topography, hidden waterfalls, and lakes.
Explore more about Slovakia’s rich cultural tapestry and incredible natural landscapes by volunteering abroad. For further insights, visit our pages on Slovakia’s wildlife and biodiversity and geography and climate.
Track Wolves in the beautiful Tatra mountains in Slovakia, the highest range of the Carpathians, and learn more about this magnificent animal.
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