Slippery Rock University's 1996 Elderhostel
July 3-19 and July 19-Aug. 4, 1996
Slovakia: History, Culture and Road to Democracy

Theme Description

Slovakia: The History, Culture and Road to Democracy is the theme of this educational experience. The focus is on the historical background of the Great Moravian Empire, the Austro-Hungarian rule, the Communist era, current relations between the Slovak and Czech people, and the reasons for the division of Czecho-Slovakia into two independent nations. The exploration of Slovak culture will include a look at her art, music, dance, architecture, religion, education, language, politics, and economic growth. Special emphasis will be placed on mining, agriculture, thermal spas, and environmental problems.

Living accommodations in Slovakia are modest by American standards. Few facilities are air-conditioned or modified for individuals with disabilities, and the program involves extensive walking and climbing of steps. The food is good, but special diets cannot be guaranteed.

Program Itinerary

Air travel is from New York to Vienna, where a bus transports participants to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia and our main focus. In addition to field trips in Bratislava, we take day trips by air-conditioned bus to Devin Castle, the wine country around Pezinok and ceramic factory at Modra, the spa city of Piestany, and a Danube boat trip to Gabcikovo Dam.

A five-day, four-night field trip by air-conditioned bus through Central and Eastern Slovakia includes:

Day One: In Martin, visit Slovak National Museum and Outdoor Museum of Slovak Folk Architecture, overnight in Martin.

Day Two: Folk-village of Vlkolinec, alpine Tatra National Park, overnight in Tatras.

Day Three: Walled city of Levoca, Spiss Castle, Pieniny National Park and Cervany Klastor, overnight near Presov.

Day Four: Bardejov and wooden Uniate churches, Kosice, overnight near Kosice.

Day Five: Medieval restorations and Outdoor Mining Museum in Banska Stiavnica, Nova Bana folk dance concert, return to Bratislava.

Five days of bus travel can be exhausting with numerous stops, changes in weather, food and water. The trip involves a great deal of walking and climbing steps. Although we book four reliable hotels, private rooms with bath are NOT always available, and special diets CANNOT be guaranteed. Participants are returned from Bratislava to the Vienna airport by bus for departure to New York.

Study Site Name: Bratislava

Study Site Description

Bratislava, the capital of the Slovak Republic, is situated on the Danube River in the heart of Europe. It is located in the southwestern corner of the country an hour from Vienna. The coronation site for 17 Austro-Hungarian kings and queens, Bratislava possesses a wealth of historical buildings and art treasures, yet maintains a friendly, "small town" atmosphere.

Slovakia, formerly part of Czecho-Slovakia, became an independent state in l993. With the exception of the alpine Tatra Mountains, the terrain and climate resembles Pennsylvania. The country abounds in natural beauty; its 19,000 square miles contain lovely virgin forests, caves, rock formations, gorges, and natural hot spas. Slovaks cultivated the soil, built simple homes and wooden basilicas, medieval walled towns, Romanesque and Gothic churches, chains of watch castles, and elaborate manor houses. The language is Slovak, a Slavic language similar to Czech.

During most of her history, Slovakia has been an occupied nation, hence, much of their formal art and music is imported. However, the country possesses an extraordinary amount and diversity of traditional folk art. Villagers preserve their folk culture and keep alive traditional rites and customs.

Slippery Rock University, a state university of 7500 students in northwestern Pennsylvania, maintains an active exchange program with Comenius University in Bratislava. With 14 years of campus Elderhostel experience, SRU has offered programs in Eastern Europe since 1987. This is the fifth year for the program in Slovakia. Comenius University serves 18,000 students from Slovakia and 50 different nations.

Lectures are given by English-speaking Slovak professors and professional people. Lectures include ethnic background, art, Slovak language, the Great Moravian Empire and Austro-Hungarian Empire, the First Republic, the failure of Communism, the "Velvet Revolution," and problems of the new republic.

Bratislava offers a variety of extracurricular activities and entertainment: explore museums and public buildings, participate in recreational opportunities, attend concerts and exhibits, shop, see arts and crafts demonstrations, meet the Slovak people.


Accommodations in Bratislava are in the university hotel located 10 minutes from the historic center of town. Rooms are double occupancy with private bath and elevators; most have television. The hotel has a large lobby, convenience store, bar and buffet. Meals are served in a private dining room, and lectures are in the hotel except on field trips. Accommodations on the 5-day field trip are in hotels in the cities we visit.

Cost: Session I $2520; Session II $2547 Includes round-trip airfare NYC to Vienna, all meals and room (double occupancy), ground transportation and entertainment, lectures and materials.

For more information, call or write Anne Dayton, English Department, Slippery Rock University, Slippery Rock PA 16057, (412)738-2366

or e-mail

Registration through Elderhostel Office/Boston.

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