These articles were published in the Spectacular Slovakia travel guide, published annually by The Slovak Spectator since 1996. The latest editions can be obtained from our online shop.

Revúca : Teaching the nation

By James Thomson

 Photos by James Thomson

Revúca holds an important place in the history of Slovak nation-building.

It was here that the first ever Slovak gymnasium, or high school, was established, in 1862.

At the time, the official language of instruction throughout Slovakia was Hungarian. But, as in Skalica in northwestern Slovakia, another centre of Slovak education in the nineteenth century, some determined locals took their chance.

The town's Protestant church was a meeting place for Slovak patriots; one local Protestant family in particular, the Reusses, were instrumental in getting the school set up and funded, in part through a public lottery. The town was also unusual in having a Slovak mayor in the 1860s.

The school took pupils, who came from all over Slovakia and stayed with local families, from the age of 10. They were taught, in Slovak, for up to 8 years in mathematics, physics, languages, public speaking and music. Crucially, it issued a school-leaving certificate.

    The first high school to teach in Slovak, in Revúca.
 The first high school to teach in Slovak, in Revúca.
 Photos by James Thomson

A number of notable Slovaks were taught here before the rising tide of Magyarisation - the assertion of Hungarian language and culture by the authorities - led to the school's closure in 1874.

But history was on the pioneers' side and the building is now a national cultural monument and museum. Its appeal to English-speaking visitors will be limited since most exhibits are labelled only in Slovak. But the town - and the area around it - is a good place to stop if you are passing by.

These articles and related information were published in Spectacular Slovakia 2009, which you can obtain from our online shop.

Make your comment to the article...