Slovácko, sometimes called the Moravian Slovakia, is an authentic ethnographic region characterized by rich folkore tradition, quality wine, nature protected landscape areas and UNESCO monuments located in the south-eastern part of Moravia on the borders with Slovakia and Austria.
If you are seeking for an escape from hurly-burly of the city life then Slovácko is the right destination for a weekend break. I had decided for such weekend break in June. First plan was to take a part on an organized event called Journey along the trails of Strážnice wine region held on June 10. The longest trail, 45 km, included 9 stops at local winegrowers with an opportunity to taste their wines and local meals accompanied by folk music performances. Unfortunately, with our arrival to Strážnice town it started raining and the weather forecast was not very favourable. We decided to postpone our stay in two weeks and to attend the International folk festival in Strážnice In order to experience as much as possible of what region can offer to tourists for a weekend stay, I had prepared itinerary comprising of wide range of activities. My goal was to present you the highlights of the region.
There isn`t better way to explore Slovácko than from the bike saddle. Based on our research and recommendations of Moravian Wine Trails we decided for 30 km trail through wine sub-region of Strážnicko. This 30km trail is recommended to those who have only one day to explore the region and want to see its most attractive parts. It starts and ends in Strážnice town.
After 4 km on a bike we reached our first MUST stop – a monument reserve of folk architecture in Petrov-Plže. Petrov is the name for the village, while Plže refers to the complex of historical cellars unique for their appearance and location. The first written mention about the village dates to the 15th century. Because of its location that time, at the bottom land of Morava River and hence for the high level of the underground water, the winegrowers built their cellars on the neighbour slope. Gradually built up complex of more than 80 objects of different age was declared a government listed monument in 1983. “Plž” is a term describing the 10-17 m long shape cellars deepened into the ground with stone vaults and baroque cellars fronts. The fronts with a white lime coating and blue bottom line recalls me the appearance of the famous Greece Santorini, don`t you think? The entrance portal is made of oak wood door, flanked by side pillars connected with an arch. This typical architectural folk feature found on traditional houses in Slovácko and in the Western Slovakia has a special name “žudro”. If the inner bottom side of “žudro” bears the red colour, the tradition says that the owner has good wine and a young daughter suitable for marriage. Although the cellars are declared to be a cultural heritage, it is not a museum. It is a vibrant place often used for organized and non-organized social gathering of wine lovers. During summer, you can still find at least one cellar open there where you can have a rest and taste wine and speak to a vintner.
After taking pictures of the cellars, we continued to the next stop which was Sudoměřice village, situated on the border line with Slovakia. Sudoměřice was founded by squire Sudemír, after whom the village was named, on the site of the former stronghold from the time of the Great Moravia in the 13th century. The most flourishing wine-growing period started in the 15th century. In the 16th century there were over 300 ha of the vineyards while today it is 86 ha. For different social events connecting with wine tasting are used wine cellars located in the area of Starý potok built only recently but in a traditional architectural style called “Podunajské domy” (brick houses of the same appearance built side by side in a lane with fronts facing to the street with a saddle roof). In the upper part of the house is found a typical semi-circular window and the entrance door is elaborated again with “žudro”. The space in front of the cellars is used for sitting.
We already had visited two different wine cellar compact lanes but still did not see any vineyards. I started to wonder where they are. Following 3 km trail along the stream and border line with Slovakia, where we lost for a moment, we finally reached the location called Staré hory, where vineyards of Sudoměřice winegrowers are located. Information boards strategically placed along the trail provided us with the information about the history of the location which in the past was planted with vineyards and with rare varieties of fruit trees of plums, apples, pears, apricots, mulberry and for us until that time unknown
We already had visited two different wine cellar compact lanes but still did not see any vineyards. I started to wonder where they are. Following 3 km trail along the stream and border line with Slovakia, where we lost for a moment, we finally reached the location called Staré hory, where vineyards of Sudomerice winegrowers are located. Information boards strategically placed along the trail provided us with the information about the history of the location which in the past was planted with vineyards and with rare varieties of fruit trees of plums, apples, pears, apricots, mulberry and for us until that time unknown Oskeruše (Sorbus domestica or more common name service tree).
We headed to the most demanding part of the trip, Žerotín hill (321 m), which is considered to be the most important growing area in the whole sub-region of Strážnicko because of its favorable sunny location. The majority of vineyards is found at the western and northern foothills of the White Carpathians mountain range and planted on heavy soils composed of original clay. The typical varieties planted in the region are Muller Thurgau, Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Green Veltiner and Sylvaner. From red varieties are typical Zweigeltrebe, St Laurent or Limberger (Frankovka). From local varieties, most tasting is the so called Žerotín wine produced as a cuvee (mixture of several grape varieties) made of Riesling, Traminer and Moravian Muscat.
Leaving Žerotín Hill behind us we left the main cycle trail as well through Strážnické vineyards and joined Oskeruše bike trail heading to the next stop in Radějov village. Oskeruše (Sorbus or service tree) is a rare variety of fruit tree which is so typical for this region that it has its own museum in Tvarožná Lhota village. The bike trail is again equipped with information boards where we learned that Oskeruše was tree traditionally planted in vineyards and orchards in the whole Europe in the past. Fruits were used for making wine and for natural healing purposes. Because of innovations in wine-growing and gradual decline on popularity of this tree, it slowly disappeared from European orchards and today it is known by locals only. I certainly plan to taste these fruits in September, the month when they ripen.
In Radějov village, we made a stop for a soft lunch. Reading the information board, we learned that Radějov village is the entrance gate to the UNESCO Biosphere reservation of the White Carpathians. The total area of the village is 2411 ha of which 68% is in the form of woods of which majority is used as a fallow-deer preserve. The chronicler of the village was a famous Moravian poet Ján Skácel. First written record is from the 15th century.
Conquering the last hill on our trip we got to our last stop, Tvarožná Lhota village where already mentioned museum of Oskeruše is located. The village gained its name after a tax from selling cream cheese. Cream cheese in the Czech language is called tvaroh and lhota refers to a period of an ease when a settlement was released from duties to its lords in the past and some settlements adopted this expression of this specific period to its name. Our last kilometers to Strážnice town lead us via main road along the wheat field of which I had to take a picture.
We got back to Strážnice around 3 PM where was ongoing International folklore festival. We needed some rest in our hotel to get ready for the second part of our (my) plan for Saturday.
Rich folklore tradition
Strážnice town, the name was derived from its former function as a guarding point on the borders with Hungary. It was founded in the 13th century and its fortification function was fulfilled with the Gothic water castle surrounded by moat, high fortification walls and bastions. Today 2 gates survived from the original fortification walls through which you access the town. The castle was gradually rebuilt to its present form and it was converted to a residence. During its greatest flourishing time, Strážnice was the third biggest town in Moravia. Today Strážnice is a center of Slovácko folk culture through the open-air museum of the folk architecture and through the International folk festival which is held yearly around 20 of June and last for 4 days. And to attend the folk festival was my second goal for this day to be accomplished. I wanted to bring you some pictures of the atmosphere of the festival.
Every last weekend in June, people from surroundings and from far come to Strážnice to enjoy sounds of the live performances of different folk music ensembles on various stages, they together sing the well-known songs and dance to rhythm. It is atmosphere of the spontaneous joyful. The history of the festival started in 1946 and from its beginning it had a character of the nationwide festival. The festival is held in the area of an extensive castle park, where are found 3 amphitheaters in three different locations. To attend performances in the amphitheaters, you need to buy a ticket. But there are side performances held in the park by locals for free and we really enjoyed them sitting on the grass, drinking local wine and listening to music and sang with locals even though we did not know lyrics. The fourth amphitheater is located right in the area of the open-air museum of the folk architecture.
The Museum of the Southeast-Moravian Village, opened to public in 1981 on the area of 16ha, acquaint visitors with the folklore architecture through different complexes of individual settlements found in Moravian Slovakia. If you desire to learn about traditional way of life this is the right place for you. Visiting different purpose-built dwelling, farmsteads, completed with the ground of technical water buildings, vineyards and meadowland. Dwellings are mostly equipped with the original objects form the collection of the National Institute of the Folk Culture. If you have some questions there are professional trained guides who provide you with information. The museum is a vibrant area where are throughout the year organized many events and thematic programs focused on traditional handicrafts, rural works, and annual habits.
The atmosphere of the festival was such magical that although I was not familiar with traditional dances captived with the atmospher I started spotanously dancing with others.
You may guess that after 30 km on a bike and then attending the festival we were exhausted when we returned to the hotel at midnight. But the next day was just before us….