The tiny village of Čičmany (population 204) looks just like it did hundreds of years ago, untouched by time. But this is no ordinary preservation area. The village is full of black timber houses, each one decorated with intricate traditional patterns in white lime paint. Literally street after street is lined with folk art.
Although the records of the village at Čičmany date back to the 13th century, covering the houses in lacy, geometric and stylized patterns is a much later tradition. It began around 200 years ago, when white lime would be used to help preserve damaged wood. The image of the bright lime pigment on the dark wood was striking, and people began elaborating on themes, eventually covering most of the timber-frame structures with remarkably uniform designs.
The buildings that line the little streets today are actually even more modern, although in the traditional folk architecture. In 1921 a fire raced through the village, and many structures had to be restored. With the help of the Slovakian government, funds were made available to keep Čičmany as it had been for centuries. It was established in 1977 as the world’s first folk architecture reserve, ensuring the protection of its buildings, and unique cultural heritage.