The Slovak national history route

The Turiec region played a prominent role in the history of Slovak national movement. It was the Turiec dialect that formed the basis of the present-day Slovak language codified in 1843 by Štúr and his followers. The Slovak national consciousness has always been promoted in the Turiec basin. Neither the German colonisation in the Middle Ages, nor the powerful magyarisation at the end of the 60´s of the 19th century could weaken it. What is more, by the period of Slovak National Revival (1780-1848) the national consciousness was deeply rooted in the hearts of Martin inhabitants. Among many personalities it is essential to mention Peter Révai, the Turiec district administrator born in Sklabiňa. In his extensive work about the history of Hungary from 1659 he was the first to argue for the ancientness of the Slavs and their significant position within Pannonia, the ancient province of the Roman Empire.

The historical events such as the promotion of the idea of Slavic reciprocity or Pan-Slavic solidarity (in the first decade of the 19th century), Slovak language codification efforts and expeditions of volunteers against the Hungarian army( in the 40´s of the 19th century), Martin being a centre of the Slovak national movement (at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries), the foundation of Czechoslovakia in 1918, its break up and the emergence of the Slovak Republic in 1939 left marks on the history, personalities and sights in the Turiec region.

The cycle route starts in Turčianske Teplice where worked and died Karol Kuzmány (1806-1866), the first chairman of the Slovak national institution called Matica slovenská. Following the red-marked Turiec main cycle route number 032(Turčianska cyklomagistrála) continue in the north-easterly direction to the village of Mošovce. Taking the unmarked sideway we reach the village of Rakša. Here you can visit the memorial room of Michal Miloslav Hodža, its most significant native, one of the leaders (Štúr, Hurban, Hodža) of the Slovak group of intellectuals called ´štúrovci´. In addition to that, Hoďža was a co-organizer of the Slovak volunteer campaigns during the revolution in 1848-1849 in the Kingdom of Hungary and one of the founders of the Slovak language standard.

The memorial room of Michal Miloslav Hodža

The native house of Hoďža presents a permanent exposition of his works and personal things. In is open to the public by appointment on +421 43 492 01 36.

Michal Miloslav Hodža (1811-1870) was a writer, linguist, organizer, representative of the Slovak national movement and a Protestant priest. He began his studies in the nearby village of Mošovce and later, at gymnasiums in Banská Bystrica and Rožnava. Hodža continued to study theology at the Evangelical college in Prešov, at the Evangelical lyceum in Bratislava and finally in Vienna. He promoted the idea of Slavic reciprocity either in his works published in the almanac Plody (´Fruits´), or as a member of the literary circle of the Czech-Slav Society and the secret society Vzájomnosť (´Solidarity´). In 1843 Hodža, Štúr and Hurban met in the parsonages of Ján Hollý in Hlboké and Dobrá Voda villages in order to determine the central Slovak dialect as the basis of Slovak language standard. Hodža being a parson in the town of Liptovský Mikuláš and later a chairman of a cultural and educational association called Tatrín actively promoted the newly codified written form of language. What is more, he was a co-author of a variety of requests and demands of a Slovak nation towards the emperor in order to support Slovak national aspirations. In 1866 he became a vicar of the evangelical church in Martin. From 1867 he lived in exile in the Czech Republic in the town of Český Tešín where he died.

Following the red-marked route pass via Mošovce village, one of the former cultural centres of Turiec. Mošovce, situated on an ancient trade route, was a craft centre of the region. In addition to that, it received town privileges as early as in 1370. All these factors contributed to the development of culture and education in the village. Above all, it is a birthplace of Ján Kollár, one of the leading figures of the Slovak National Revival, supporter of the idea of a common Czech-Slovak language and the author of many literary masterpieces. His memorial room and statue made by the sculptor Fraňo Štefunko remind local but also foreign visitors of his life.

The memorial room of Ján Kollár is placed in traditional stone granary. It is the only preserved part of his native house that was burned down in 1863. The famous quotation from his poem Slávy dcéra (The Daughter of Sláva) can be found near the place where the house was built. It is open to the public by appointment on 043/ 494 42 44.

Ján Kollár (1752-1852) studied in the village of Mošovce, later continued in the towns of Kremnica, Banská Bystrica and Bratislava. He finished his theological studies at the university in Jena, Germany. From 1819 till 1849 he acted as a parson in Budapest where the former Slovaks Sándor Petofi and Lajos Kossuth were confirmed by Kollár. It was the city of Budapest where he wrote the political collection of sonets Slávy dcera (the Daughter of Sláva). His friendship with Ľudovít Štúr was influenced by their disputes over the Slovak language standard. Kollár, an active supporter of Czech as the common language for both nations, published many works considering this problem, e.g. the compilation work from 1846 Hlasové o potřebě jednoty spisovného jazyka pro Čechy, Moravany a Slováky (Voices in favour of the necessity of a unified literary language of the Czech, Moravians and Slovaks). In 1849 Kollár became professor extraordinary of Slavic antiquities at the University of Vienna where he died.

Many significant figures of Slovak history were born or at least worked in the village of Mošovce. Among those who promoted the growth of Slovak national consciousness we should mention the linguist and historian Daniel Krman (1663- 1740), author of the book of Slovak Grammar from 1704(Základy slovanskej gramatiky). The poet, literary historian, journalist and administrator of Matica slovenská Štefan Krčméry (1892-1955) is also worth of mentioning.

Following the yellow route number 1814 we reach the village of Socovce placed on the bank of Turiec River. Continue in the western direction on the blue marked Zniev route number 1415 to Kláštor pod Znievom. The village has a long tradition in secondary education dating back to the 14th century. It played a significant role in the history of the Slovak nation as the seat of one of the first three Slovak Secondary Grammar Schools- the Catholic patronage gymnasium.

The Catholic patronage gymnasium (1869-1874) was one of the first three Slovak gymnasiums. 669 students studied here during 5 years of its existence. Martin Čulen (1823-1894) was the principal of the school. Several inspectors were sent there in order to prove that the idea of Pan-Slavism was promoted in the school. However, high level of education including lessons on Hungarian language was confirmed. It was the education minister who abolished the gymnasium because of the deteriorating conditions of the building, the present-day seat of the diocesan historical library. While the old gymnasium was closed the new building was about to be constructed. However, new students did not live to see it. It was not until 1919 that it was re-opened. Nowadays there is a memorial room of the first Slovak Catholic patronage gymnasium. The elementary school of František Hrušovský, the former third building of the Slovak Catholic gymnasium (1936-1956) is also worth seeing. The memorial room of František Hrušovský can be found in its interior.

The Memorial room of František Hrušovský was established within the building on 10th September 2005 on the occasion of the adoption of a new school name- The elementary school of František Hrušovský in Kláštor pod Znievom. The memorial room is open to the public after by appointment on 043/4933121.

František Hrušovský (1903-1956) studied at gymnasium in Trnava, later continued his studies on history, geography and Slavic history in Prague, Cracow and Bratislava. In 1929- 1945 he worked as a teacher and principal of the gymnasium in Kláštor pod Znievom. Hrušovský was a secretary of several departments of Matica slovenská, member of the committee of Matica slovenská, of Slovak Museum Association (Slovenská muzeálna spoločnosť) as well as of St. Adalbert Association (Spolok sv. Vojtecha. In 1945 he immigrated to Italy. In 1952 he became a director of the Slovak Institute in Cleveland, where he died. Hrušovský is the author of several works on the history of Slovakia.

Alexander Moyzes (1906-1984), native of Kláštor pod Znievom, was a son of the well-known composer and music teacher Mikuláš Moyzes. Alexander was one of the leading composers of his generation in Slovakia, co-founder of the Slovak Folk Art Ensemble SĽUK (Slovenský ľudový umelecký kolektív) for which he created many works. In 1949 he was appointed professor at the Bratislava Music Academy which he headed as Rector from 1965 to 1971. Last but not least, Albert Mamatey (1870-1923), another famous native of Klaštor pod Znievom is also worth mentioning. Mamatey as a president of the Slovak League in America was one of the leading figures of Slovaks living in America. In addition to that, he was a signatory to the Pittsburgh Agreement in which the Slovak and Czech representatives in exile supported Masaryk´s intention to establish an independent state of Czechoslovakia.

From Kláštor pod Znievom we take the blue marked cycle route and return to the village of Socovce. Our travel back in time will take us to the events that contributed to the establishment of the first three Slovak gymnasiums. Following the green route number 5427 pass along the Turiec River via Valentová village to Príbovce and Košťany nad Turcom villages. On 13th January 1849 the Slovak volunteers (so-called Winter Campaign) organized by Ľudovít Štúr and Jozef Miloslav Hurban marched from the village of Mošovce via Príbovce and Košťany nad Turcom to Martin. As Jozef Miloslav Hurban recalled “people were throwing wreaths and waving flags in order to welcome us”. Volunteers came to the Turiec region from the hill-fort of Vyšehrad. Despite the fact that no one joined them in the town of Žilina and Rajec, thousands of patriots from Turiec entered the corps of Slovak volunteers. Samuel Šípka (1827-1917), journalist and native of Košťany nad Turcom was one of them. What is more, Šípka was a co-founder of the Savings Bank in Martin and of the Slovak Choral Society (Slovenský spevokol, 1872) that later became Slovak Chamber Theatre (Slovenské komorné divadlo). On 3rd August 1863 the Catholic bishop Štefan Moyzes, pass along this way in order to take part in the constitutive meeting of Matica slovenská. Later he became the first chairman of this institution. In almost every village starting from Turček crowds of enthusiasts welcomed him with open arms and Slovak flags above their heads.

In Košťany nad Turcom we join the blue marked Zniev cycle route. Passing along the Turiec River we come to Martin, the prominent cultural centre of Slovakia. In order to obtain more information about the city visit the Tourist Information Centre at Theatre square (Divadelné námestie). While discussing the significant role Martin played in the Slovak national history the following institutions and sites are worth mentioning: Memorandum square (Memorandovo námestie), the first and the second buildings of Matica slovenská, the Lutheran Academy, National House (nowadays Slovak Chamber Theatre), the building of Tatra Banka (present Slovenská sporiteľňa, Slovak savings bank).

Memorandum square- place where the Slovak National Assembly took place on 6th-7th June 1861 and the Memorandum of the Slovak Nation was issued. The document, written by Štefan Marko Daxner (1822-1892) demanded better position of the Slovak nation within the Habsburg monarchy.

The first building of Matica slovenská (1863-1873) was built in 1863-1875. Matica slovenská was established on 4th August 1863 thanks to the public collections and support of the monarch. It laid the foundations of Slovak science, libraries, journalism and supported the Slovak national efforts. In 1873 it was dissolved as a result of the Minister of Interior´s accusation of sedition. The first chairman of Matica slovenská was a public agent, teacher, catholic bishop Štefan Moyzes (1797-1869) and its first vice-chairman was a protestant church dignitary, poet, translator and journalist Karol Kuzmány(1806- 1866).

Slovak National Literary Museum (Slovenské národné literárne múzeum) has a permanent exhibition dedicated to the history of Slovak literature. It is divided into two parts; the exhibits dating back to the period from Great Moravia to Baroque can be found at the ground floor. Findings from the period between the Enlightenment and the Slovak modernism in the 20th century are situated on the first floor. Particular importance is given to National hall (flare) located at the ground floor with the gallery of busts of the leading figures of Slovak cultural life and other valuable exhibits from the history of Matica slovenská.

Evangelical lower gymnasium in Turčiansky Svätý Martin (1866-1875), one of the first three Slovak gymnasiums, was opened on 15th September 1866. At first, classes were held only for children attending preparatory school or the first and the second year of the elementary school. The student’s dormitory (alumneum) providing cheap or even free food for poor pupils was established. Later on, the classes for the students attending the third and the fourth year of elementary school were opened as well. After Karol Kuzmany´s death, it was Viliam Paulíny-Tóth (1826- 1877) to replace him and became the vice-chairman of Matica slovenská. Tóth was a poet, journalist, Slovak army of volunteer’s officer (1849) and politician thanks to whose support the evangelical gymnasium managed to expand. In 1875, however, it was dissolved by the Hungarian government.

The second building of Matica slovenská was built in 1924-1926; following the winning design of the Slovak architect Ján Palkovič. The statue called Matica slovenská made by famous Slovak national artist Ján Kulich is situated in front of the building. Since 2005 the building has been the seat of Matica slovenská again.

National Cemetery

Since the funeral of Karol Kuzmány in 1866, it has been the final resting place of many leading figures of Slovak national, cultural, political and economic life. Svätozár Hurban Vajanský (1847-1916), famous poet, writer, translator and politician as well as the writer Ján Kalinčiak(1822- 1871) , Elena Maróthy Šoltésová (1855- 1939), functionary in the Association of Slovak Women(Spolok slovenských žien) and the chairman of Živena (Slovak Women´s Union) together with other 400 personalities were buried there. On 27th June 2002 the remains of Sučany native Milan Hodža (1878-1944), the first Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia in the interwar period, were brought to Slovakia and buried in the National Cemetery.

National House (Národný dom) was built in 1888- 1890 to design of architect Blažej Bulla. It was the Roman Catholic priest, archaeologist, historian, ethnographer and geologist Andrej Kmeť (1841-1908) who established in this building the first Slovak museum. In addition to that, it housed the Slovak Museum Society (Muzeálna slovenská spoločonosť), theatre, library as well as Turiec Casino visited by every significant foreign or local guest. It was a place where foreign magazines were read, literary parties and discourses were organized. Turiec Casino was dissolved in 1921. The painted theatre curtain designed by Czech painter Karel Vítězslav Mašek was a gift from the Czech Art Society (Umelecká beseda), the first Czech association of artists, to their Slovak ´brothers´. In 2001-2008 the building was completely reconstructed.

Slovak Savings Bank (Tatra Banka) was constructed in 1912-1913 according to a project by architect M. Milan Harmnica. On 30th October 1918 the Declaration of the Slovak nation, in which Slovaks expressed their will to create a common state with Czechs, was accepted here. Today it is the seat of Slovak Savings Bank.