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In Stará Ľubovňa region one finds many reminders of folk architecture with a mixture of Slovak, German, Ruthenian, Polish and Jewish cultures.

The open air museum was opened in 1985 under Ľubovňa Castle, a site where a settlement existed in 18th century.

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It now has twenty-five exhibits. The most significant object of the museum is a wooden Greek Catholic church from Matysová, built in 1833 and consecrated to St. Michael the Archangel. The interior of the chapel is Eastern Rite, with an iconostasis, or icon screen, separating the sanctuary. This is built in the Baroque-Classical style, displaying the icons on three levels. The church was taken apart at the original site and then carefully re-assembled here in Stará Ľubovňa Museum in 1970. Since its re-consecration in 1990, on an important Church holy days, Eastern Rite masses have been held here. In front of the entrance to the church is a cross with carved relief including symbols of martyrdom; it is a copy dating from 1912.

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Many log houses were brought here and re-assembled from different locations, originally built in early 1900. They include houses from Velký Lipník, Litmanová, Velká Lesná, Údol, Jakubany, Kremná, Kamienka and Jarabina, all in Spiš region. The houses in the old days were categorized as one, two or three space houses. The main living area was the living room that was also the main bedroom, it had eating corner in which the benches from around the table turned to beds at night, corner for prayers, big stove. Single beds on the sides of the room. Kitchens are displayed with their utensils and almost in every home a different profession is arranged with tools of trade. There are tinker, shoemaker, coppersmith, blacksmith, weaver, carpenter and many more.

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Through these displays one may get a better idea of a life in the villages in the old days and the most important events in the life of the family as child birth, marriage, death of a family member. Some houses give visitor an idea of the family customs. We had a fantastic lecture by the director of the museum and here I learned a bit more about Spiš's customs. For instance when entering or leaving a home one wasn't supposed to touch the threshold. When family member passed away, they would stop the clock, cover the mirror and when they were taking the casket out of the house they would shake it three times above the threshold etc. The weddings had different duration depending on the time of the year. In the time of harvest they were shorter as the people had to go and harvest in the morning. In this region the weddings were held on Mondays or Thursdays. The bride's family would celebrate in the bride's house and the grooms in the groom's house. They usually had seven course meal, one man was in charge or pouring the drinks (pálenka). During Christmas many families didn't cut the Christmas trees as they felt it was a waste and used only branches to decorate the main room for Christmas.

I have truly enjoyed my visit here and I am sure I will return to learn more about the Spiš's customs.

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Published in the Slovak Heritage Live newsletter Volume 3, No. 3, Fall 1995
Copyright © Vladimir Linder 1995 
3804 Yale Street, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada V5C 1P6
The above article and photographs may not be copied, reproduced, republished, or redistributed by any means including electronic, without the express written permission of Vladimir Linder. All rights reserved.