the best place for combination of spa relax and tourism
| The history of Rajecké Teplice dates to 1376. The first reliable evidence on the
existence of Rajecké Teplice - the Deed of Luis the Great, Hungarian King - originated that year. The local alcaline
thermal springs were known as early as that year and the Thurza's family arranged built the first spa buildings in
the 17th century. The development of the Spa continued also in the 18th century, when the spa building was built, and
some physicians came and started publishing first scripts regarding the curative effects of thermal springs. The
first analysis of Rajec mineral water was done in 1793.|
The complex development of the health resort started in the 19th century, when the Spa became a popular summer resort of nobility, high aristocracy and wealthy middle class. In recent times the largest development of the Spa started after World War II. In 1959 Rajecké Teplice was granted the Spa Town status, which also specified the area of the Spa and provided a protection of curative mineral springs.
The ancient village Rajecká Lesná, known as Frivald before 1948 is located 30 km south
of Žilina, at the foot of Klak hill. It is a small village with about 1300 inhabitants. It was first mentioned in
history 1418 as a part of Lietava Castle in the region "Trenčianska župa".
Rajecka Lesna has been a place of pilgrimage since the 15th century. The greatest pilgrimage takes place on September 8th, the feast of Virgin Mary's Nativity. The Church of Mary's Nativity from 1866 is dominant in the village. The very first church in the village was built in the 14th century but only the sanctuary and the Gothic statue of the Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus were preserved. This statue is now in the main altar in the parish church. It is about 500 meters from the church of Mary's Nativity, where the Calvary of Frivald and the chapel of Lourdes were built. The spring of healing water containing calcium and magnesium spurts from under this chapel. At the top of Calvary there is a Church of Ascension.
Next to the parish church in the center of the village a House of the Nativity was built. It was designed by Stanislav Machovčák from Staškov and it was built by parishioners under the leadership of Štefan Bôtoš and Ivan Biely. In November 1995 the Slovak Bethlehem was open in this house. The Slovak Bethlehem is the masterpiece of Jozef Pekara, a woodcarver from Rajecké Teplice. In his work of art he depicts not only the Nativity but also the history of the Slovak Nation. It was his idea to insert different images from the life of the Slovak people into the biblical milieu. That is why we can see the three Kings who are followed by the Slavic Apostoles Saints Cyril and Method and other great personalities of Slovak history. The tableau of the Nativity is in the middle of the crčche that is located in the village of Rajecká Lesná. All the Slovak regions can be found there represented by their most famous places and buildings such as: the castles of Devin, Bratislava, Trenčín, Orava and the cathedrals of Nitra, Trnava, Spišská Kapitula and Košice.
One of the High Tatras mountains, Kriváň peak raises in the background as a symbol of Slovakia. Every Slovak visitor can find a part of the history and tradition of his region here. Different jobs, crafts, national costumes, and traditional ways of life of the Slovak people are shown. The wooden figures can move, work and amuse. The Slovak Bethlehem is a historic and geographic textbook as well as a mirror of knowledge and woodcarver's traditions in Rajec.
Mr. Jozef Pekara has been working on it since 1980. When it was finished in 1998, the masterpiece was 8.5 m long, 3 m wide and 2.5 m high.
On the first floor of the House of the Nativity is a gallery that attracts visitors by the works of woodcarvers like Briestenský, Veselý, Bača from Rajecká valley. Mr. Bača is well-known woodcarver and his works are being shown all over the world.
The first person of thinking the idea of building the Slovak Bethlehem as a permanent part of the pilgrimage in Rajecká Lesná was Father Vojtech Valent who was supported by the former parish adiministrator Father Alexander Klabník. The Nativity House was built and the whole project of placing Slovak Bethlehem in it was realised thanks to the present parish administrator Father Pavol Šadlák. Openning ceremony was held on the Sunday of Christ The King on 26 November 1995 when His Excellency Ján Chryzoston Cardinal Korec blessed this place after the holy mass. The Slovak Bethlehem was open to the public on the occasion of Pope John Paul II visit of Slovakia and comming 2000th anniversary of the Nativity of Jesus Christ.
For more information check: Slovenský Betlehem or Múzeum.sk
A few more links:
Slovakia Travel Guide