There is an area in Slovakia, where is literally concentrated our historical and cultural treasure, where you can still today admire original popular architecture and folklore of the past centuries, to find yourself right in the natal places of our famous writers, poets and great thinkers, to visit fascinating churches and castles, interesting museums, but also lost yourself in the middle of lush nature – one of the most beautiful parts of Slovakia, encircled by mountains, with lovely national parks, interlaced by rivers and torrents.
You can find this inner paradise in picturesque region of Orava, attractive for all the visitors: those, interested in history and architecture, those who love nature and outdoor sport activities, as well as those who wish to explore traditional popular culture. Territory of Orava is located in the northern part of region of Žilina, in the north borders with Poland. With its majestic valleys of the river Orava and also plenty of cultural and historical sites of great value, making part of our national heritage, attracts still more and more numbers of tourists, not only Slovaks.
Nevertheless there are several big cities in this region, we can say that tourist center of the area is the village Terchová , where was born our national heroe, Slovak Robin Hood – Juraj Jánošík. A legendary looter from XVII. century, who ´took from rich and gave to poor´, was born in Terchová in 1688, but his spirit is present here till today. A figure surrounded by mystery is reminded every year in the end of july by festival Jánošíkove dni – The days of Jánošík, full of music and traditional dance and also theatrical performance of his life and death.
Thanks to the famous festival Terchová today has become the center of slovak folklore, immensely rich and captivating. To a person of Jánošík is dedicated also a small museum right in the village and a great statue at the exit from Terchová. By the way, Terchová is the native place also of another famous big name – ´Slovak Socrates´ Ján Kollár.
Near the village you can visit The Holes of Jánošík – a fascinating system of cloughs and canyons. Bizzar rocky formations with a specific climate and a number of cascades offer various species of animals and plants. One lap of the system serves also as a didactic passage. This admirable piece of nature is a part of National Park of Malá Fatra, founded in 1987. The park is situated in northern part of Malá Fatra mountains, with altitudes to 1709 metres (mountain Veľký Kriváň). The area of park is abundantly wooded, full of endemic plants (particularly very precious specie of rowan tree, growing only in Malá Fatra), park is home also of eagles, eagle owls, storks, bear, cat-o-mountain, otter…
One of the most important centers of tourism and winter sports in this region is without doubts Vrátna valley, just three kilometers from village of Terchová. The valley surrounded by chain of mountains is fascinating just by its entrance – the canyon Tiesňavy with plenty of cascades and unique dolomite rock formations. The spot from which lead many attractive tourist routes is the village Štefanová, in the past pastoral settlement. In Vrátna valley several times took place European Cup in snowboarding or races of mountain biking.
Majestic dominating feature of the region is beautiful Orava Castle – one of the most visited in Slovakia. The castle from 13th century, situated on a hill in the neighborhood of the village Oravský Podzámok, observing the Orava river underneath, was witnessing many important historical events of our country. Today is sought after also because of many cultural events and exhibitions, there were shot also some of the key scenes of famous silent film Vampire of Nosferatu from 1922.
Among others gems of region of Orava are the wooden churches in the villages of Tvrdošín, Istebné a Leštiny. Particularly the gothic church of 15th century in Tvrdošín – The Church of All Saints, registered in the list of UNESCO World Heritage, attracts attention of many tourists.
Near Tvrdošín you can visit also Zuberec – a village which took its name from an animal – European Bison, which in the past lived in this territory. Zuberec is famous for The Museum of Orava village – an impressive open-air museum with exhibitions of real village of the end of 19th century. Just one kilometer from Zuberec, in the area of West Tatra Mountains is situated a real paradise of nature – mountain range Roháče, with its highest point Baníkov – 2178 metres above sea level. You can admire here fabulous mountain lakes, the cave of Brestov – national monument, you´ll find here many possibilities for sport activities during summer and winter: skiing, cross-country skiing, tourism…
This fascinating visit of Orava region is advisable to conclude with a degustation in the village Zázrivá, where they produce a typical salty sheep cheese in the form of fibers, known as ´korbáčiky´ . At last you can stop in the city of Dolný Kubín – in the past regional capital of Orava. In the 19th century Dolný Kubín was one of the centers of Slovak national life, our great poet Pavol Orságh Hviezdoslav and others Slovak revivalists were active in the city. Except of the Museum of Hviezdoslav you can visit here also interesting Gallery of Orava. To spend at least a few days in this beautiful area of Northern Slovakia is like to breathe in the spirit of our origins, roots, admirable culture and traditions.
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