Date updated: 02/06/2023
Ružomberok is a Slovak town in the north of the country. It is located below the Veľká Fatra and Low Tatra Mountains, at the junction of the rivers Váh and Revuca.
The German name is Rosenberg. The Hungarian name is Rózsahegy. Thirty thousand people live in the town.
History of Ružomberok
The first written confirmation of the village dates back to 1233.
The right to be called a town with a standard list of privileges was granted to Ružomberok by the king in 1318. In the sixteenth century, the wealthy townsfolk embraced Protestant ideas. Already at that time, a Lutheran school for the wealthy nobility was opened in the town, which unambiguously testified to the prestige of new religious ideas. Especially, if you consider that a similar school for Catholics was established by the townspeople only in 1729. However, many famous people of the time studied there, including Anton Bernolák. This Catholic priest had the honour of being the first Slovak linguist and codifier of Slovak language and literature.
In the 18th century, against the background of industrial development, Ružomberok became one of the centres of the working class movement for rights in Austria-Hungary.
After World War II, a Soviet military contingent was stationed in the town.
Today it is a thriving city with a great industrial potential. It is popular with foreign visitors to the region, along with Liptov, another centre of the region. If you are travelling in the direction of the Tatras from the west or south of the country, you can easily pass through there. The town is well connected to Žilina and Banská Bystrica. The times when its numerous factories destroyed the ecological balance of the valley between the mountains are a thing of the past. You can have as good a rest here as you can in any other resort area in Slovakia.
Until the middle of the last century, Ružomberok was considered the centre of the whole region. The industrial potential of the town and its position contributed to this. In today's reality, it has quite a serious competitor - Liptovske Mikuláš. The two towns are roughly equal in such indicators as the number of inhabitants (three tens of thousands), territory and development prospects. But it is difficult to compete with Ružomberk in terms of beauty and landscape. One can admire the mountain steepness of the Czabrát, and in the distance the river Váh and the Chočské hory (Chočské Mountains). From the town streets you can admire the peaks of the Veľká Fatra and Low Tatras.
How can Ružomberok surprise the sophisticated traveler?
The city is not one of the masterpieces of old European urban architecture. Sure, it has some original and beautiful buildings and various attractions, but it is a typical set of an average Slovak town. You can get around Ružomberok in a few hours, but it will not be a boring walk. You will be surprised by the rapid change in the structure and style of the neighbourhoods, streets, lanes and alleys. The main architectural trends are fundamentalism, constructivism, formalism and primitivism. It is a visible imprint of the pragmatic times of rapid capitalism in the past. The housing estates of burghers, merchants, bureaucrats and the working class were built in the twenties and thirties of the twentieth century. The panel districts of the socialist period are a little more dismal. But even among the drab, linear blocks there are colourful shops, pensions and cozy eateries.
Andrey Glinka Square
Námestie Andreja Hlinku Square is a unique ethnographic location, an architectural blend of Gothic and Renaissance. The name of the square is not accidental. It was the birthplace of Andreja Hlinka, a renowned priest, politician, cleric and supporter of the Slovak national revival. He was an ardent supporter of autonomy in the First Republic with the prospect of further complete secession. He is credited with the creation of the political party of the people which after the priest's death embodied this idea during the German occupation of the Czech lands. Hlinka was hailed as a national hero and his political force ruled almost until the end of World War II.
In 1994, the Slovak government approved a special supreme state award of Slovakia, the Order of Andreja Glinka.
On the square, a beautifully pompous terrace catches the eye. A balustrade and statues adorn it. The Veľká Fatra and the Tatra Mountains are visible from here. You can admire them for hours. On the square you can also take a photo with the statue of Andreja Glinka. The mausoleum under the temple's facade, dedicated to this religious and iconic figure of the country, is worth a look. This somewhat bizarre structure was built before the era of the triumph of socialism. The museum only housed the remains of the priest before the war. It has since been closed.
If you walk up a bit, you can get a good look at the town hall. The hill on the two rivers Revuca and Váh became the site of the first dwellings of the ancient settlers. It served as a natural defence against enemies and saved the settlement from frequent floods.
Etymology of the town's name
Almost all towns in Slovakia have a distinctive German variant of its name. Ružomberok is no exception. This is not surprising, particularly since these lands were actively colonised by Germanic tribes beginning in the Middle Ages in the tenth century. Many settlements were founded by them. German ethnicity in Slovakia blends in with the "living cauldron" of other nations. They have been living here for such a long time that they have in a way become separate from their brethren in Austria and Germany. There is even a special term - Karpatendeutsche (Carpathian Germans or Carpathonians).
In ancient times the town had an unusual and poetic name - Rosenberg. In translation, this toponym means "pink mountain". It should be noted that it is near the Town Hall that the city blocks get the most provincial look. Here, the flow of time slows down. Everything indicates that the rural way of life in Ružomberk was never superseded by the industrial revolution. The square of Andrey Glinka is adjoined by houses more characteristic for villages than towns. And the square itself is "diluted" with boulevard flavour. The linden-chestnut alley that begins at the Mariánské Lázně Column itself is interesting, edifying and healthy.
This building was recently renovated. The style and detailing, typical for Prague architecture in the heyday of the First Republic, are attractive. Nowadays, the Cultural House is a place of comfort and relaxation for the citizens and guests of Ružomberk. It is a multifunctional centre where you can see a good film or go to the opening night of a performance of a new theatre season. There are also offices, a restaurant, a coffee shop, a sports training room and shopping areas. Travellers have the option of choosing a room with the usual range of amenities or a VIP room in the hotel for overnight stays.
The architectural complex is dedicated to priest Andrey Glinka. He bequeathed all his funds and property for the construction.
The historic Ružomberok Town Hall was built at the end of the 19th century in the neo-Baroque style. The majestic four-winged building with its ornate façade and round tower on the corner is one of the most prominent and beautiful cultural landmarks of the city. For a time the hall served as a Roman Catholic parish, and it was also the home of important Slovak politician and Catholic priest Andreja Glinka. Today the building houses the town hall.
Seton - Watson
The Town Hall includes a plaque and bust of Robert William Seton-Watson, which commemorates the work of this British historian and correspondent, known to the world as Scotus Viator. His contribution to the Slovak people was his uncompromising personal struggle for the liberation of these lands from imperial oppression. The journalist fervently supported the foundation of the Czechoslovak Republic in the eighteenth century after the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Church of St Andrew
You will find it not far from the Town Hall. Its dominant position and style accentuate it. Numerous tourists and visitors to Ružomberk will definitely hear about Vlasta Pruchová being baptised in this Roman Catholic church building by Andrej Glinka. The famous Slovak jazz singer was born in this town in 1926. The townsfolk are just as proud of their honoured countrywoman as they are of their national hero priest.
It was built in the second half of the 19th century in a romantic neo-Romanesque style with Moorish influences. After the decline of the Jewish religious community in Ružomberok during the Second World War, it no longer serves its original purpose. After being abandoned for some time, the building underwent a comprehensive renovation in 2013-2014, and today it serves as a cultural and community centre where exhibitions, concerts and cultural events are regularly held.
Ružomberok is not only an industrial centre and a historically important settlement, but also a place of active recreation. On its outskirts is the spa centre of Grabowo. Tourists are also attracted to the area of Malino, the nearby spa of Kupele Lúčky, which is on a par with Františkovy Lázně in terms of comfort, services and infrastructure in the Czech Republic. If you are looking for water fun, the Thermal Park Běšeňová satisfies all your needs. For a holiday with the whole family, the Tatralandia water park is the best option. Here you will find fun rides, slides and nourishing lunches in local restaurants after the "water" exertion.
For lovers of "underground worlds", excursion organisations offer visits to the caves in the Demänovská Valley in the Low Tatras Park: Demänovská Svobody Cave and Demänovská Ice Cave. The Likava Fortress Museum is situated not far from the Liptov Museum. The open-air archaeological site at Havránok is very interesting. Its location is at the top of the dam of the Liptovská Mara reservoir. A walk around the dam itself is also a fascinating experience. Guests of the region are also interested in the mountain village of Zuberec. About twenty kilometres from Ružomberok in the village of Svatý Križ one can see one of Europe's biggest wooden evangelical churches.
Its base is the well-preserved village of Žilina region - Skansen Vlkolínec. Nowadays, it has become an organic part of Ružomberk. It is a typical example of folk architecture in the northern Carpathians. The settlement is situated at an altitude of just over seven hundred meters above sea level. Its perimeter is almost eight square kilometres. But it is inhabited by only thirty-five inhabitants.
Vlkolínec was first mentioned in 1376. At the end of the eighties it came under the jurisdiction of Ružomberk. Since 1993 it has been known as a World Heritage Site and is protected by UNESCO. It is a typical Slovak village of the nineteenth century with dozens of wooden houses. You will also see a beautiful old Baroque church from 1875, a bell tower from the late eighteenth century and a school building from 1860. The houses number 16 and 17 contain interesting ethnographic displays telling about the life and work of peasants in the mountainous conditions. More about Vlkolínec.