September 10, 2021

Čičmany, Vyzdobená dedina / Decorated village

this picture, by PMATAS, licensed under 
Creative Commons Share Alike 4.0 International

Unlike the colorful frescoes painted on the houses of the Polish village Zalipie, the houses of the Slovakian village Čičmany have a decoration of white ornaments, usually geometric in nature and sometimes with schematic realistic motives, such as depictions of birds and other animals.

The village dates back to 1272 and has about 200 inhabitants, who mostly live in black wooden half-timbered houses with ridge roofs.

this picture and the next five courtesy of
Sophie Lepetit, from her weblog

The tradition of decorating the houses started in the early 1800s. 

The village is located in a swampy area and to protect their house from humidity the inhabitants initially decorated the corners with mud, which later changed to the use of white lime, which also was added to other parts of the outside walls.

White lime on a mostly dark background is of course striking and residents, mainly women, started to make decorations of the white lime, in which it is remarkable that gradually a more or less uniform style was developed.

In 1921 the village was hit by a major fire. Many houses had to be repaired. 

The Slovak government arranged for funds to be made available for this recovery. This allowed Čičmany to keep the character it had for ages.

In 1977 a government decision was made to the effect that the decorated houses and buildings were designated as cultural heritage.  

In this way 136 houses and buildings got a protected status and became  part of the world's first folk architecture reserve.

In Čičmany two houses, which also function as a museum,  can be visited. 

The Radenov house, one of the best preserved houses, has a general exhibition. It's open all year.

The other one is the neighboring Gregorov house, which has an ethnographic exhibition on history and folklore of Čičmany and its surroundings.

The decorations that appear on the houses in Čičmany are quite original. 

They can be seen in embroidery in costumes worn by residents, but also in images on tablecloths and other forms of textiles.

Inhabitants of the village focused for a while on making handkerchiefs decorated with motifs such as on the houses, later they also started making felt boots, with applications based on these motifs.

* Article on the website of Atlas Obscura, with a series of pictures
* Article on the touristic website Travel to Slovakia
* Article on Turisticky, another touristic website 
* Article on the website Only Slovakia
* Article on the website Itinari

* Video (14'29", March 2015, YouTube) by Milan Kosec

* Short video (1'23", November 2014, YouTube) by Travelers Videos

* To see more videos about Čičmany on YouTube, click here

Decorated village of Čičmany 
Žilina region, Slovakia
decorated houses can be seen from the street

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