Only a minute away from the Low Tatras, on the southern slope of the main ridge of the Great Fatra, below the Sidorovo hill, Vlkolínec is located, a foothill settlement, which is a paradox. On one hand, time just stopped here but on the other, it is a living organism in which people still live today. When you decide to go on a trip here, these attractions will help you to enhance the experience of the sight – after all, the more we know from the history of our ancestors, the more we appreciate the material cultural heritage that has been preserved after them. And especially when you engage your imagination, you will truly transmit to the Middle Ages – this is how you lived, this is what you ate, this is how you earned a living.
This is how the houses, which form the soul of this conservation area today, were created
You won’t find any modern house construction here. Throughout the village, only houses of traditional folk architecture are present as Vlkolínec is the best preserved reserve of folk architecture. Well, now imagine that you are a farmer, the owner of the house (note: in addition to the farmers, laborers lived here, i.e., tenants of houses). What did you need to build a house? Wood, of course.
The local architecture is typical of the mountaineering, so the basic building material was wood from the surrounding forests and the main technique was logging – hewn tree trunks were laid on top of each other. If you wanted your house to be draught-proof, you just put a moss in the slits as a natural insulating seal – you didn’t have draughts and it wasn’t cold inside, and at the same time you kept the heat from the fireplace or the oven inside. Regarding the interior design, the log house always had a room in which the whole family life took place (two generations lived in one room at the same time with the domestic animals, too, in the winter), then the entrance room (pitvor), which was located in the middle of the house and a storeroom, a dark room with one small window that was used to store food and grain, but also to sleep occasionally. And not to forget the roof – handmade wooden shingle, which durability was about 30 years.
We are still in the Middle Ages – what food would you enjoy?
Just as it used to be in the past, people ate what they have grown themselves. In Vlkolínec, the basis of the menu was potatoes, cabbage – in particular pickled sour cabbage, beans, and we must not forget the peas – it was grown on wide pea grounds, the locals cooked porridge from it, but in harder times they made pea flour which they mixed with bread flour so they could bake a crisp loaf of bread. The specialty was an over-ripe pear, a type of pear that was dried in a bread oven until it turned into sweet biscuits.
Where would you get money from?
As it is now, in the past, people needed to live from something. The main source of income was lumberjacking – men chopped down trees in the surrounding mountains in the summer and gathered them to the town on sledges in winter (by the way, Vlkolínec was “just” the outer street of Ružomberok). The locals were also well known carpenters, they built wooden houses in Liptov, made wooden shingles and also engaged in wood-carving, that is, they made „črpáky“, which means cheese molds, dishes for households, wooden spoons, stirring spoons.. We can’t forget weaving of linen and hemp cloths – women in Vlkolínec planted useful textile plants – flax and hemp for centuries. In addition to hand spinning of threads, however, they also used their seeds, which were beat in the mortar to obtain oil to grease the mashed potatoes during the fast. And the last significant source of income was sheep-breeding. Sheep wool was processed into cloth, which was sold by local people at market fairs.
Well, now you have an idea of the local way of life in the past, so you can now enjoy a visit to Vlkolínec with added value. And don’t forget – there are still about 20 people living here, so be tolerant and respect their privacy.