Slovaks are an emotional nation; sincere, friendly, open, hearty, generous, but also touchy. They are a country of friends. Every valley has its own cultural traditions and folklore which are passed down from one generation to the next.
The Slovak overtone flute called “fujara” as well as Music of Terchova were included in the UNESCO List of Intangible Heritage. As a country of contrasts, Slovakia changes before your eyes. As a small country it only takes a couple of hours to get from the Danubian Lowland to the Central European Highlands, and you can get from urban agglomerations to secluded, unspoiled nature quite easily and quickly.
Due to its geographical position, Slovakia has always been an important trade and cultural intersection. You can find northern discipline along with southern temperament, and western rationality with eastern emotionality reflected in everyday life.
The official and most widely spoken language is Slovak. Slovaks are very proud of their language, and in many areas outside of the main tourist sites you will not find many signs written in English. The Slovak language is similar to Czech but distinct in its own way. Slovak is written using the same Roman characters that English uses, so you won’t have any trouble reading signs. In standard Slovak language the emphasis is almost always on the first syllable.
Slovaks are largely Catholics, like their Polish neighbors, another distinction between them and the largely Atheist Czechs.
While Slovakia itself is a young country, the folk tradition has rooted strongly and is reflected in literature, music, dance and architecture. Also, due to its location Slovakia has been central to a lot of history and you can experience well-preserved examples of wooden folk architecture, including churches made entirely out of wood and the tallest wooden altar in the world. Slovakia also has the highest number of castles and chateaux per capita in the world, ranging from simple ruins to well-preserved habitable castles with furnishings which are especially appealing to fans of medieval history. Due to the many mineral and thermal springs in the region, you can find world-famous spas that iffer great curative therapies or simple relaxation.
Slovak cuisine is simple and hearty and is based on the traditional food of the northern villages where people lived off sheep grazing and limited agriculture. Staple foods include smoked meat, cheese, potatoes and flour. Herbs are more common than spices to flavor the food which can make sampling a safe and rewarding experience since no strong spices or flavors are used.
Common dishes include:
Bryndzove halusky – a Slovak national dish made out of potato dumplings and a special sheet cheese called bryndza.
Kapustinica – a sauerkraut soup
Pirohy – large dumplings, may be made with either sweet or salty fillings.
Goulash – made with cuts of beef, onions, vegetables and squashed potatoes.
Lokse – potato pancakes with various fillings
Langos – big, deep fried flat bread commonly served with garlic and cheese.