History of The North of Slovakia – Terchova, The Little Fatra National Park


October 8, 2015

Terchova is more than 400 years old village stretching along a part of one of the most beautiful mountainous areas of Slovakia, the National Park of the Little Fatra. The original name of the village was Kralowa. The oldest evidence of human residency in the territory of today’s Terchova is an iron tip of a spear dating back to the Roman period, found near the local mount Rozsutec.

It is said that Terchova at its birth in 1580 inherited hunger and misery of the nearby regions of Kysuce and Orava. However, all of it in the middle of the magnificent setting of the mountainous Little Fatra. The hunger and misery are gone, yet the beauty of the region is the treasure attracting tourists from many surrounding countries.

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Terchova and the Principle of Wallachia
Terchova was founded on April 22, 1580. Its formation was related to so-called colonization based on Wallachian law. Wallachian law was a privilege often given by the monarch. It was a complex of laws and customs, which originally, since approximately year 1000 AD, governed solely Romanian population (i.e. Vlachs in their original meaning) and later, until approximately end of the 18th century, almost the entire population of Central Europe and the Balkans (i.e. Vlachs in a broader sense). The way of life and economy of this population was based on non-migratory pasturage. Vlachs, in other words shepherds who worked and lived according to the principle of Wallachian law, always had two places to live in. They rented a strip of land in a valley between two hills from rich landowners and built there their cottages in which they lived during winters. They also had their chalets and sheep on top of the hills, where they lived and worked only in summers. For pasturage they used idle highland pastures.

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Vlachs also got privileges from the monarchs. The most famous privilege for Vlachs living in Orava and Liptov regions of Slovakia was given to them by the king Mathias Corvinus I. in 1474. According to it Vlachs were, for a length of time of up to 20 years, exempt from all serf duties and later from paying ecclesiastical tithes. In return, they had to guard the roads and borders and perform military service. In the 16th century the owners of feudal estates in the mountainous regions of Slovakia in an effort to gain new revenues started using their land even more intensively. They started cutting down the forests to acquire land for pasturing sheep and cattle and ran their own new businesses. This meant inflow of new people to these regions and formation of new villages and hamlets based on the principle of Wallachia stretching along the feet of the mountains, e.g. Terchova, Osturna, Ziar, Marikova, Oscadnica, etc.

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Vlachs and Valaska
Valaska got its name from the word Vlach. It was an instrument slightly more than 1 meter long mostly used by shepherds back in the days. It was a long, light and thin ax used as a weapon and walking stick. However, Valaska was also used by bandits for robbing and as a perfect accessory used during dancing. Nowadays it is only produced as a souvenir and for decorative purposes. It is also included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Terchova in the past and at present
In the second half of the 19th century Terchova was hit by harsh drought resulting in plague. The significant part of the local population died and therefore many of those who survived had to start looking for better living conditions which they eventually found in the south of the country. At the end of World War II during the liberation fights, half of the wooden houses of the village were burnt down. Again, many families had to move out of Terchova, mainly to the areas along the Danube Lowlands near Bratislava. The new part of Terchova was then built in the early post-war years within the two-year recovery plan. Today the village is a tourist attraction truly worth visiting. It is typical by its folk dance and fiddle music, old wooden houses in their original condition, variety of dairy products, Slovak cuisine speciality Sheep cheese dumplings and, of course, by the gorgeous nature of the Little Fatra National Park within which it is set.

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The Little Fatra National Park, Janosikove Diery
The Little Fatra National Park is unique by the remarkable diversity of its geological and climatic conditions, plant and animal communities and the variety of morphologically attractive relief forms. It is one of the most beautiful mountainous parts of Slovakia. Janosikove Diery is a part of the national park. It is an exciting path through a set of gorges where you will move through ladders and bridges over the wild mountain stream and enjoy the best views of the waterfalls, canyons, rock walls and cliffs. The waterfalls are not as massive as those in Norway or the USA; you will definitely experience a wonderful day out though!

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So if you plan to visit Slovakia and especially the North of Slovakia definitely do not miss out on visiting Terchova. And if you have a few hours to spare, the hike through Janosikove Diery will definitely make your day.

Have a great day folks and don’t forget: Visit Bratislava – Visit Slovakia.