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June 29, 2012 / bydint

The High Tatras; Slovakia Border with Poland

High Tatra mountains, Slovakia-Poland borderHigh Tatra mountains, Slovakia – Poland

Cross the border from Slovakia after the town of Levoca, and aim for Poland.  Suddenly the landscape is alpine, a place to stay is just over there, but it is still so light, we can go on just a bit further.

So we did, and almost regretted it.  Our destination was the Polish town of Zakopane, known for hiking and skiing.  Surely it would be no problem.  We are too accustomed to gas on demand, and lighting where we want to go.

But dark comes quickly; and the tank plummets.  Moral:  to avoid travel anxiety, gauge the daylight carefully before heading into mountains.  We were fine, but had no idea now much farther we had to go.

High Tatras. The scenery recalls World War films of running people, dogs barking, fear.  Such is the power of early visual image, association.High Tatra mountains, Central Europe, Slovakia-PolandHigh Tatras, border Slovakia to Poland

Are these particular photos from across the border into Poland already?  My notes are not clear.  We do have a Poland Road Ways, and also posted these there.

The name “Tatra” — big, black Tatras, in which the officials rode: a Czech company, see  See the novels recounting the experience of an overlooked minority, the Roma, the gypsies.  Zoli, novel by Colum McCann.  Meet a Roma singer and dancer, who allowed glimpses into the culture, and was banned for it. See  Next, take out Fires in the Dark, by Louise Doughty: a family of Roma in Slovakia caught with others of their community, in the quotas for the WWII labor camps. See

June 27, 2012 / bydint

Slovakia and the Inquisition; Cage of Shame. Postludes

The Inquisition, the hunting down of autonomous believers or nonbelievers, any whose mindsets or acts did not conform to the Roman Catholic teaching, was part of medieval Central and Western Europe for centuries. Following: repercussions. See It did not expand into the Scandinavian countries or Great Britain to the same degree, but individuals and movements followed suit in their way.

Inquisition; Levoca, Slovakia.  Memorial, Woman and Child

Levoca, Slovakia. History of women in Europe. Inquisition memorial, persecution, witchcraft, heresy. Statue: woman and child. Woman and child column. Church behind.

The Cage, one of the few remaining from the Inquisition era, is nearby. The influence of the Inquisition, now a book, see God’s Jury – the Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World by Cullen Murphy, NYT review by Samuel Freedman at

Inquisition Woman's Cage, now euphemized as "Cage of Disgrace"

Levoca, once part of Hungary, offers a glimpse into the social and religious control mechanisms for women. This, a 16th century cage for women.

See history of Levoca at Social controls over autonomy. Looking at the ease with which western and other cultures exploit women and restrict their autonomy, including through trafficking, ask how selected interpretations of ambiguous or even missing texts, and dogma, foster social power goals. Connect?

June 27, 2012 / bydint

Levoca, Slovakia. Cage of Disgrace

Levoca, Slovakia.  Cage of Disgrace

Currently, The town of Levoca, Slovakia, entitles this cage in a benign, tut-tut way, as a “Cage of Disgrace” to encage women accused as scolds, or some mild fake equivalent. This belies its own heritage as suppressor of an entire gender’s indivuality. This was the era of Inquisition where women were burned for heresy and healing outside the established male bounds of “The Church.” See The Burning Time, and do not be deceived by labels as to mere “scolds.”
Visit Slovakia and find echoes and roots of current and past exploitation of women, the dark undercurrent of the world’s major cultures. Explore Slovakia and human trafficking. It is not alone. The United Nations his is not a merely feminist issue, see

Roots of power, entrenched and fertilized by cages of disgrace that keep competition out.

This gender idea so prominent in the Inquisition.

Is it still such fair game if she speaks up, asserts autonomy, finds another interpretation of scripture as to her role in the life of the world, differing from the male institution. Is this what google does not find amenable to its advertisers, its marketing opportunities, so it blocks the speech of those advertisers do not find lucrative. Are big corporations more to be feared than big government, because corporations are in or way accountable. See kngdv at blogspot, or vetting roots at blogspot for any interest you may have in vetting dogma. Keep your head down. But look. Hush. The looters are out. The Burning Time, see The Malleus Maleficarum, at Are these what google did not want shown ona mere travel site? Ah, so.

June 22, 2012 / bydint

Spis Castle – The High Ground

Image Taking the high ground can mean morally,  as cultures without survival at stake can use the phrase; or as a defense, where those who are subject to invasions can necessarily use the term:  the physical advantage of being literally above the enemy, for purposes of projectiles, and fatiguing the enemy.


Spis Castle is the physical high ground,  a prominent marker and bulwark against Ottoman and other invaders, a crossroads of trade routes so the visibility mattered to the lost or threatened.  It occupies a huge footprint.

Walls of Spis Castle, Slovakia

Spis Castle, Slovakia, occupies a site with habitation for over millennia. This site claims people living here 40,000 years ago. As a medieval fortress, it was rock built on rock by 1249, see

Opening and closing times may not correlate with the guide book. Arrive nowhere at 4PM, expecting an hour to go. We literally had to run inside at 4, expecting a 5PM closing, and run around to get our views of this wonderful place. There was construction-renovation going on, and the construction-renovation schedule for workers superseded anything tourist.

June 20, 2012 / bydint

Filakovo – Ottoman Expansion

The Ottoman Expansion in the 16th Century put Slovakia in line for conquest after the invasion of Hungary, just to the south.  The castle at Filakovo as fortified is intended as a bulwark against invasion, and remained such:  without renovation into Renaissance or other later style.  It has not served as a mere residence. It may have been built by the Kacsics clan in the 13th century, see We stopped there on our way from Zvolen to Kosice.

Castle Filakovo, Slovakia

A defense against the Ottomans, 16th Century. Filakovo, Slovakia.

Stop to buy a snack in a local supermarket in this mid-size town, and find an element of the old police state.

I tried to photograph my son at the cashier conveyor belt, just to show the fine variety of things to buy. Immediately appeared a policewoman, in uniform and cap and waving at us with both hands, away and pointing to the camera, shaking her head, nonono. We tried to show we just wanted a simple photo, and finally left.

The coat of arms for Filakovo shows a palm tree. Where does that come from? See  The history of cultural groups, see, does not suggest tropical origins.  The formal Slovak coat of arms shows a lime leaf, but not a palm as at Filakovo, see

June 17, 2012 / bydint




June 15, 2012 / bydint

Karst salt. Route to Kosice, Slovakia. Speliology

Karst salt. Route to Kosice, Slovakia

Salt karst is a geological formation serving economic and health interests: karst salt caves good for asthma? Here, roadside deposit, toward Kosice, Slovakia.

Find the health overview at The term for uses of karst salt is speliology.Salt therapy aids in mucous dilution, see

Cave systems including salt caves are listed at
Slovak karst is specifically noted at karst-sites — see Are we allowed to provide a direct link? Why not. This is just an address. If they choose to let you in the door, fine. If they do not want you in the door, they can lock it.

June 5, 2012 / bydint

Zvolen: From Defense, to Renaissance. Castle for all seasons.

Zvolen Castle SK

Zvolen Castle, side view, SK

There is an older ruin of a castle at Zvolen, with an original area at its glory days, of some 175 acres — 7 hectares, at about 2.5 acres per hectare.  It was finally burned by John Hunyadi in 1452.  The Hungarian Hunyadi had fostered Vlad Tepes, Dracula, a captivity really in order to secure the performance of Vlad’s father in a treaty arrangement — see Hunyadi’s castle in Romania at

Its importance was eclipsed despite rebuildings, when a new castle was built in the town.  This area of Slovakia was part of northern Hungary at the time.

Zvolen, Slovakia; castle

Castle at Zvolen, Slovakia. Many castles in Slovakia remain rugged fortresses, to defend against the many invaders — Turks, Tatars.

Later remodelings added the crennelations, the decorations looking rather Renaissance.  See history at

Zvolen street, castle background

Zvolen Castle, in the middle of town, Slovakia

Zvolen Castle, from rugged defense needs, to the Renaissance. See video at You may want to turn down the sound a little.

Architecture, period contrasts, Zvolen Castle, Slovakia

Architecture, period contrasts, Castle Zvolen SK

June 3, 2012 / bydint

Banska Bistrica, the Town

History of migrations: The sequence of settlers in this Central Slovakian era extend back to prehistoric miners in about 2000 BCE, then Lusatians, closely connected to the Nordic Bronze Age, then the Celts, here in 300 BCE, and Germanic tribes in the Roman era.  A large Slavic settlement arose in about 800 CE, and it became incorporated into Hungary. Saxons moved in, in the 12th Century.

Progressive capitalism:  In 1494, a forward-looking early capitalist copper mining company there (yes, a company) established benefits for workers including health care: the Ungarischer Handel, or Hungarian Trade Company.

Architecture: The castle is painted to show its three stages:  red and white for gothic, and baroque in yellow, then the onion spire.   The tall pedestal statue is a Plague Column.  These were erected over much of Europe in gratitude for surviving the Black Death as it would recur, and pray for deliverance from the next onslaught.

Namestie Square, Banska Bistrica, SK -- Slovak National Uprising Square

Banska Bistrica, Slovak National Uprising Square, Slovakia.  Banska (mine) and Bistrica (swift stream) suggest the history of this town, with its first permanent settlement dating from the 9th Century.

The clock tower dates from 1552.  It leans somewhat, like Pisa —  this photo needs to be tilted back so that the plague column and barbican castle spire are straighter,  and then the tilt of the clock tower would show more accurately.  For now, tilt your head.

May 25, 2012 / bydint

WWII Tanks, Banska Bistrica, Slovakia

Slovak National Uprising Museum, Banska Bistrica SK,  Soviet Tanks in the Woods

Soviet planes and tanks helped liberate Slovakia, along with partisans of many nations, Slovaks, Poles, Czechs, Hungarians.

Museum of the Slovak National Uprising, WWII, Banska Bistrica, SK. Tanks in the woods 1944. Partisans from many nations including Britain, Canada and the United States, joined Slovaks, Soviets, Hungarians, Czechs, Poles in resisting the Nazis strongly here. See

Banska Bistrica, Slovak National Uprising Museum, Slovakia. Soviet plane

Resistance to the Nazis: Soviets, Slovaks, Partisans from many nations 1944

Banska Bistrica, Tanks in the Woods, SK