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Introduction & Slovak Symbols


Slovakia's roots can be traced to the 9th century state of Great Moravia. Subsequently, the Slovaks became part of the Hungarian Kingdom, where they remained for the next 1,000 years. Following the formation of the dual Austro-Hungarian monarchy in 1867, language and education policies favoring the use of Hungarian (Magyarization) resulted in a strengthening of Slovak nationalism and a cultivation of cultural ties with the closely related Czechs, who were themselves ruled by the Austrians. After the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the close of World War I, the Slovaks joined the Czechs to form Czechoslovakia. Following the chaos of World War II, Czechoslovakia became a Communist country within Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe. Soviet influence collapsed in 1989 and Czechoslovakia once more became free. The Slovaks and the Czechs agreed to separate peacefully on 1st January 1993. Slovakia joined both NATO and the EU in the spring of 2004 and the euro area on 1st January 2009.

Official Symbols of Slovakia

Slovak Flag

The Flag of Slovakia consists of three horizontal bands of equal height, the white on the top followed by blue in the middle and red on the bottom, and coat of arms aligned by its right side to the horizontal center of the tricolore canvas. The three colors(white, blue and red) are symbolizing Slavic unity and independence. These colors can be seen on many flags of Slavic countries like Russia, Slovenia, Serbia, Czech Republic,.... In the middle ages the original Slovak flag consisted of two horizontal bands, red above the white, without coat of arms. The oldest form of Slovak flag with double cross can be seen on the coat of arms of town Nitra from 13th century which consisted of white double cross on red canvas. The flag in it's current form can be dated back to half of the 19th century and was first time officially used in period of first Slovak Republic in 1938.


Slovak Coat of Arms

A red shield with white double cross on top of the central of three blue peaks.
Double cross the main symbol means the tradition of St. Benedict, St. Cyril and St. Methodius, but in reality this is a Christian symbol for older resurrection of Jesus Christ, which was used in Byzantine Empire since the 9th century.
The most widespread meaning of three blue peaks is that they are representing Matra, Tatra and Fatra, which are three mountain chains located on Slovak territory and northern territory of Hungary but it has an older heraldic origin. The original coat of arms of King Béla III. was the white double cross on a red field and nothing else. Later the double cross appears inserted to clay (1291), or the lower part has three or four roots. The form of triple rocks appear in the posterior coats of kings’ and queens’ arms, such as the Seal of Ladislaus V. Since the 14th century the today’s version of three hills has been used, originally gold or silver, then green, and blue since 1848.
Red Shield was the colour of many armorial attributes at the end of the 12th and the beginning of the 13th century. It is not the bloody skies symbolizing the suffering Slovaks during Magyarization, as it is reported by some authors.


Slovak President’s Standard

The Standard of the President of Slovak Republic has the form of red square with three blue peaks and white double cross on the middle peak in proportions of coat of arms of Slovakia. White-blue-red edge starts by white from top left corner. All elements on the flag - the peaks, the double cross, the red canvas and the whole standard has the silver border.
The standard is used to mark permanent or temporary residential area of President of Slovak Republic.


Slovak National Anthem

A song "Nad Tatrou sa blýska" (Lightning over the Tatras) of which lyrics was written in 1844 by Ján Matuška with use of melody from the slovak folk song named "Kopala studienku" (She was digging a well). After forming of Czechoslovakia the first strophe was used for second - Slovak part of Czechoslovak Anthem. Since formation of Slovak republic in 1992 first two strophes are used as Slovak National anthem.
Slovak anthem metaphorically expresses the attitude of Slovaks to the situation during the Hungarian domination, points to the phase of national revival and the separation of Slovakia as a free and independent country after centuries of oppression.

Full version

1. Strophe
  • Nad Tatrou sa blýska,
  • hromy divo bijú.
  • Zastavme ich bratia,
  • veď sa ony stratia,
  • Slováci ožijú.
2. Strophe
  • To Slovensko naše
  • posiaľ tvrdo spalo.
  • Ale blesky hromu
  • vzbudzujú ho k tomu,
  • aby sa prebralo.
3. Strophe
  • Už Slovensko vstáva,
  • putá si strháva.
  • Hej rodina milá
  • hodina odbila,
  • žije matka Sláva!
4. Strophe
  • Ešte jedle rastú
  • na krivánskej strane.
  • Kto jak Slovák cíti,
  • nech sa šable chytí,
  • a medzi nás stane.

English translation

1. Strophe
  • There is lightning over the Tatras,
  • Thunders wildly beat.
  • Let us stop them, brothers
  • After all they will disappear,
  • The Slovaks will revive.
2. Strophe
  • That Slovakia of ours
  • Has been fast asleep so far.
  • But the thunder's lightnings
  • Are just rousing Her,
  • To be awoken.
3. Strophe
  • Slovakia is already rising,
  • Tearing off Her shackles.
  • Hey, dear family
  • The hour has struck,
  • Mother Glory is alive!
4. Strophe
  • Firs are still growing
  • On the slopes of Kriváň.
  • Who feels to be a Slovak,
  • Let him take a sabre,
  • And stand among us.

Unofficial Symbols of Slovakia

The Mount Kriváň

Krivan (2494 m) is characteritic impressive mountain in the western part of the High Tatras, towering at the end of long ridge of Krivan crotch that extends from the main ridge of the High Tatras - from Čubrina.
It is clear that for the first time peak Krivan was climbed by unknown miners and climbing of evangelic reverend and biologist from Spišská Nová Ves A. Czirbesz and his friends made in 1772, can be supposed as the first written referenced hike only. Kriváň visited well known pioneers and explorers such as English explorer Robert Townson (1793), French biologist Belsazar Hacquet (1794), Polish geologist Stanisław Staszic (1805) or Swedish botanist Göran Wahlenberg (1813). The first winter hike was made in 1884 by Theodor Wundt and a leader J. Horvay.
For commemoration of the spoke of Saxon King Fridrich Augustus II.(1840) the hungarian monarchists rised up an obelisk, that was destroyed in short time by Slovak Patriots, participants of so called national walks. The first of national walks was carried out on 16th of August 1841 with the participation of Ludovít Štúr and Michal M. Hodža. The biggest pilgrimage was organised by Stefan M. Daxner in memorandum year 1861. From 1955 is climbing to Kriváň traditionally dedicated to memory of SNP (The Slovak National Uprising) and it's heroes in Kriváň area.
As symbolic mountain of Slavs and the freedom of Slovaks Kriváň became important motive for poetry of generation of Ludovít Štúr and it keeps it's position in poetry and song creation till today.


Valaška

Valaška is light axe with a long and straight handle, usually with a metal head. Handle length is usually slightly greater than 1 meter. The handle is often decorated with carved patterns, since its owner had enough time to decorate it.
A small metal head is on one side sharp, while on the other side is flat and therefore can serve as a hammer. Head is constructed to fit comfortably in the palm of hand so it can be used as well as the walking stick.
Today's Wallachian axes are made mostly for decoration, with head made of yellow or white metal (mostly brass, iron, chrome-plated iron, wood or aluminum). Many of them are considered to be a work of art, especially those made before the sixties by highlanders. They were richly decorated / marked according to an ancient tradition. The most common motifs of decoration used to be the sun, stars, comets, the tree of life, flowers, trees such as spruce and fir, and various geometric patterns. Some blacksmiths were using many different sophisticated characters.
In the period from 14 to 17 century, these shepherd's axes were brought to Central Europe from Wallachia (present-day Romania), Romanian migrants, shepherds also called Valasi brought them with themselves through the Carpathian mountains, as part of their culture. The Wallachian axes were mostly used as multi-purpose tools, a small axe, hammer, walking stick. Although it can not be effectively used for felling large trees, it is still possible to cut down small branches.
On the territory of today's Slovakia and Poland Valaška was an inseparable tool of Slovak and Polish shepherds, along with a wide belt with a width of about 20 cm usually and three belt buckles. In the Slovak culture Valaška was popularized mainly by local historical legend Juraj Jánošík.
Currently valaška is produced as a souvenir for decorative purposes. It is also used as an accessory to traditional dance. Exceptionally can be seen, especially in rural areas where the old guys use it as walking stick.


Fujara

Fujara is a traditional folk wind instrument of the Slovak shepherds from area called Podpoľanie which covers an area of ​​500 square km.
Its predecessor was a Gothic three-hole bass flute whose origin dates back to 12-13 century and has been widely spreaded in Europe. These pipes were smaller than fujara we know today and allowed the musician to play it with one hand and simultaneously play the drum with other hand. It is assumed that the three-hole pipe was brought to central Europe during the Turkish wars by mercenaries from western Europe.
According to Dr. Macák the place of birth of fujara is north of Banska Bystrica, in the area of Slovenska Ľupča. The appearing of fujara is best known in three areas of Podpoľanie, in the area of villages Priechod, Podkonice and its surroundings, in area of villages Detva, Hriňová, Očová, Hrochot, Poník, Zvolenská Slatina and their surroundings, and in Gemer-Malohonská area where belongs villages Kokava, Poltár, Tisovec, Klenovec and Turičky. According to the diversity of these areas Fujara can be divided to two types characteristic to area of its appearance, Fujara from Priechod and Fujara from Detva.
For decorating are used various techniques such as carving, staining with walnut, acid etching or insertion of copper. Each Fujara is original and unique work of its producer, and since this is the only handcrafted there are not two Fujaras identical to each other.
Since 2005, UNESCO has included fujara the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Mankind.