Bagpipes and bagpipers have been heard in the Central Slovak village of Veľká Lehota since time immemorial. The Garajs not only knew how to play these instruments but they were also known for being able to make them. The secret of this work was inherited in the family from grandfather to father, son and grandson. Dominik Garaj no longer produces bagpipes but he still leads the folklore bagpipe group, which he founded. After working in an amateur theatre, he is now trying to tell the story of the village as recorded by its older inhabitants.
The village of Brehy used to be proud of its pottery. And when a documentary about customs in various villages was being shot, Ján Fiala was involved, too. His father – the potter himself – died when Ján was fifteen, but thanks to this stimulus, he returned to his childhood when he watched his father at work. He started learning the craft even though he was about 30 years old and it was not easy. After ten years of gaining experience, his products and tools have found their way into various documentaries, fairy tales and films. Since other people also want to try working on a potter’s wheel, Ján attends fairs, schools and organises creative workshops. In addition, he took over the production of well-known pipes, the so-called štiavničky.
Between the mountains where the River Hron is enlarging and the landscape falls into the lowlands, lies the area of Gron. In central Pohronie, the modern routes are bordered by the Pohronie Castle Road. It once formed a shield for the protection of rich mining towns, such as Kremnica and Nová Baňa. The second oldest monastery in the territory of Slovakia guards its secrets at the so-called Slovak Gate. Peace and special customs characterise life in the countryside – on the scattered mountain homesteads, each called “štál”. Gron is also a meeting place for lovers of special musical instruments – bagpipes and melodeons.
Discover with us the secrets of ancient times that hide castles by the river Hron, or look into the distances from interesting sightseeing places. And if the view of the beautiful landscape is not enough for you, we have one more tip – how to look into space …
The Pohronie path of castles, fortresses and watchtowers stretching along the river is also decorated with the “Pearl of Pohronie” – a monastery in Hronský Beňadik. It is mentioned in the 11th century. and preserves the precious relic of the blood of Christ. The Pohronie castle road controlled access to rich mining towns, and the monastery took the form of a Renaissance fortress in fear of Turkish danger. The castles of Revište and Šášov also belong to the number of stone guards. The beautiful views they offer are no longer a sign of alertness and anxiety, but enjoy and recharge. Both invite to various events in the summer.
© Želmíra Hanusová / OOCR Región GRON
Currently, the only flat track in Slovakia is located in Žarnovica. The first racers pushed for her in 1953, and since then a rich tradition of various speedway events has followed her dark oval. At present, thanks to the Žarnovica Speedway Club, motorcycles have been kicking at full throttle. The club starts competitions of various categories at the international level on its track: qualification for the Grand Prix – world championships or the finals of the European Under-19 Cup or the Golden Helmet of the SNP, organized by the Automotoklub flat track Žarnovica. Through the Speedway Academy, next generations of racers will ride motorcycles.
© Igor Fellner / OOCR Región GRON
The ascent through the forest and blueberries, in addition to the impressive andesite formations to Vtáčnik, the highest peak in the middle Pohronie and the highest hill of the eponymous mountain range, is not entirely effortless, but its peak is already breathtaking: , Poľana and the Low Tatras. The forested landmark over the Kľakovská Valley during the Second World War provided shelter for locals and partisans, but it also had to watch the massacres in the villages of Kľak and Ostrý Grúň. To this day, these turbulent times are reminded of the Partisan cottage (Partizánska chata), also called Škurátka, the grave of the Red Army captain Petr Chvorost and the so-called Partisan forest in the shape of a five-pointed star.
© Matej Pirháč / OOCR Región GRON
If you are interested in what is happening in the sky, if you want to orient yourself in a tangle of stars, observe space objects using special astronomical techniques and with the interpretation of an expert, be sure to visit the Maximilian Hell Regional Observatory and Planetarium in Žiar nad Hronom. Demonstrations of astronomical phenomena are prepared for you in the artificial sky of the planetarium, and thanks to the simulation, you can transfer the observer’s skin to any place on Earth. Astronomy events also expand travel, music and art programs. The regional observatories in Banská Bystrica and Rimavská Sobota are also part of the Regional Observatory.
© archív KHaP M. Hella v Žiari nad Hronom / OOCR Región GRON
You can get to the lookout tower by following the paths of the Zvonička educational trail. Of the same name is the hill with the Háj Lookout Tower which is one of the most beautiful lookout points in the vicinity of Nová Baňa. It provides visitors with wonderful views of the panorama of the Nová Baňa Basin, the ridge of the Pohronský Inovec and, under very good conditions, the Esztergom Basilica can also be seen. To see even further, peek into the viewfinder of the sightseeing telescope with a 35x zoom lens. The lookout tower stands on the place where the Nová Baňa pink rhyolite was mined in the past. The rock was used for the production millstones. During the construction of the lookout tower, they symbolically used it to build its lower part.
© Matej Pirháč / OOCR Región GRON