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.
Know Before You Go
Čičmany is in northwestern Slovakia, about a two-hour drive from Bratislava. It is possible to reach Čičmany by public transport. The easiest way is to take a bus from Žilina to Rajec, and from there, another bus to Čičmany. However, there are very few buses passing through Čičmany. Visitors stranded in Čičmany can take advantage of the traditional houses turned into penzions (B&B). In addition to the preservation of the structures, the village Považie Museum works to also keep up traditions of festivals, local folk music and art, costume and folk dances. The village is also popular ski destination (Ski center Javorinka). Čičmany is within easy reach by car from Prievidza/Bojnice (known for its spa and picturesque medieval castle) and makes a nice day trip combined with visit of beautifully carved wooden Slovak Betlehem in Rajecká Lesná.