Attractions of the area
The National park Muránska planina
The National park Muránska planina represents one of the most-preserved areas within Slovakia. It was proclaimed for Protected Landscape Area in 1976 and in 1997 the National Park Muránska planina was established. The area takes 203.2 km2, protected zone in about 217 km2 wide. The National Park and its protected zone reach to three districts: Brezno, Revúca and Rimavská Sobota. The highest hill of the National Park is Fabova hoľa (1439 m above sea level).
Considerable part of the area comprises of carst plate of the Muranska Planina mountain range consisting primarily of trias lime stones. More than 50 swallow holes, spring forts and other carst phenomenon like grikes, carst holes, gorges, and cliffs and so on have been recorded. The most precious plant of the plain is the endemit Daphne arbuscula. In general, plants of the National Park belong to the most interesting among the rest of the orographic units in Slovakia. Xerothermic, mountain, alpine and subalpine species can be found there. From the zoological point of view, the southern border of Carpathians plays an important role within the National Park Muránska planina. It qualifies the common representation of west-Carpathian mountain communities and the communities at the foot of mountain with the Pannonia and thermophile species. Almost all of the significant vertebrates live there, e.g. golden eagle, eagle owl, wood grouse, bear, wolf, mountain cat, and Eurasian otter.
Breeding of the half-wild horses
One of the most characteristic biotopes of the National Park Muránska planina is mountain meadows. They were regularly mowed or feed closed in past, that means, they were actively maintained. By fall-back of traditional utilization of meadows, the only defining factor hindering the fall of meadow communities remained the hay growing and horse feeding. In former times, the specific half-wild horse breeding was appreciated as something very positive from the environmental point of view and recently it has become one of the dominant symbols of the Muránska planina mountain range.
The horses have been bred since 1950 in a locality called Veľká Lúka. The main goal in the beginnings was to save the Huculs, however, later on was the focus redirected on breeding and production of horses used for forestry. For this reason, there were some experiments to crossbreed the Huculs and to create an independent breed called “Slovak Mountain horse“, later on it came to breeding of the cold blood Noriker. 1995 the crossbreeding of the Noriker breed of Muráň type gained its recognition and 1997 was proclaimed as gene reservation of Noriker of Muráň and as protected breeding area. In these days the number of the horses bred is approximately 300, of which there are 60 breed mares and 6 stud-horses. The aim of the breeding of Noriker of Muráň type is the production of high-quality, soft horses that can be utilized for the purposes of forestry, agriculture and hunting ground preservation, agro tourism, hippotherapy, and production of stud-horses. Beyond other positive impacts, these horses represent an aesthetic and country building element.
Virgin forest in Dobroč
Unique preserved view of virgin Carpathian forest. It is located near to the village Čierny Balog. Entry is available only for pedestrians with conductor supplied by the Vydra – Vidiecka rozvojová aktivita (Rural Development Activity) organization in Čierny Balog.
Some of the exemplar trees that can be found there are Buk pod Kľukou (Breech under the Handle), Buk pod širokou (Breech under the Wide) and Brest na Hukave (Elm at Hukava). By deforestation of habitats, its maintenance and, over all, by grass cutting and alpine farming has this region become a unique complex of meadows, cut-overs and pastures with rare plant community full of protected plant species: Globe Flower, Snake's Head Fritillary, Barren Strawberry, Broad-leaved Cotton grass, Round-leaved Soundew ...
Thanks to haleness of the natural environment, many different rare animals can be found there – invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles ... Beyond many birds, the most precious are the predators: Goshawk, Eurasian Hobby, Lesser Spotted Eagle. Mammals: wolves, mountain cat, wild cat, bear, European Otter.
State Nature Preserve Klenovský Vepor (1338 m above sea level) is the most dominant hill of the mountain range Veporské vrchy in the area of Slovenské Rudohorie. There is only one higher hill than that – Fabova hoľa (1439 m above sea level) but has no sharp relief and offers no panoramic view. The hill is situated in the main shoulder. On the downhill of the Klenovský Vepor wells the river Čierny Hron from the northern side and the beck Vepor from the southern side – which is the spring for the river Klenovská Rimava. Klenovský Vepor is a State Nature Preserve, under the shoulder of the northern and north-western hills can be found a mixed forest stand – spruce, abies, and beech, as well as rowan and mountain maple. So called “Ore Artery“ crosses the Klenovský Vepor.
Narrow-gauge railway in Čierny Hron
Since time immemorial has the timber harvesting and processing belonged to the main sources of livelihood of the inhabitants of Slovak mountains. However, since the beginning of the last century its capacity and quality of the traditional timber transportation – timber rafting – have become no more so effective for the growing industrialisation of the country. There arose a need to ensure a high-quality and continuous timber transportation over the whole year. Silvan, long and protracted valleys of the Carpathian arch represented a perfect terrain for construction of the only really effective transportation system with enough capacity – of the Narrow-gauge railway. It was some kind of diminished form of casual railways - their gauge width was narrower (usually 760 mm), so that it could be adhered stronger to the terrain and the construction costs were lower.
The construction of the main 10.4 km-long section from Hronec to Čierny Blh (the original name of the municipality Čiery Balog) began on January 8. 1908. 1909 official commisional traffic-judicial inspection took place and in the same year regular operation was launched. Other sections of the railway in Čierny Hron were being constructed gradually by prisoners of war from the WWI and were directed to the most valleys of the basin of the river Čierny Hron. The overall length reached 131.98 km and they managed to get to the mysterious virgin forest in Dobroč under the massive hill Klenovský Vepor. The smallest semi-diameter of the railway was 60 m; maximum angle of the railroad was 70 per mile. In the era of the largest capacity of timber drive-away, i.e. in the times of calamity in 1927 – 1929 the yearly capacity of transported timber was approximately 260 000 m3 and in 1953 – 1955 even 300 000 m3. There were up to seven steam locomotives of various constructions driving every day. After about some time the number of locomotives was increased by 3 RABA diesel-hydraulic ones produced in Hungary. The operational capacity was available for around 115 employees and the daily average of people transported by these trains was 200 – 250 passengers. The narrow-gauge railway entered into history of the Slovak National Uprising in 1944, when it was made use of partisans to transport proviant and munitions to the mountains. Initially, the railway had to be dismantled by 1985, according to the resolution of the government of the SSR, just like the rest of the railways in the country. 31.12.1982 was the operation of the residual 36 km track definitely stopped. In that time, it became the last existing narrow-gauge railway in Slovakia. All equipment – gauges, locomotives and waggons were prepared to be pulped.
We should be grateful for preservation of this valuable sight only to the enthusiasm and courage of those, who were brave enough to make a stand against the senseless bureaucratic resolution of the reigning political party and to those, who started to fight a long battle for the railway preservation. Tradition of unpaid working camps of THE LIFE TREE (STROM ŽIVOTA) was established, which later spread out throughout Slovakia to other monuments and sights. This organisation is still active nowadays. Ceremonial, long awaited day of operational recovery of the Narrow-gauge railway was May 1, 1992. For the first time then rushed forth a renewed steam train for tourists on repaired gauge to Vydrovská dolina valley. Since 2001 has been the operator of the narrow-gauge railway transportation in Čierny Hron one non-profitable organisation. The organisation of voluntary work in 1997 took over the local civic association Vydra – Vidiecka rozvojová aktivita (Rural Area Development Activity) and the F.G.V. club of the Narrow-gauge railway in Čierny Hron.
Vydrovská dolina valley – Forestry open-air museum
Vydrovská dolina valley – a new tourist destination situated in Čierny Balog, it is a result of aspiration and exemplary cooperation of four partners from three different sectors – national, non-profitable and self-governing ones. At the beginning stands the municipality Čierny Balog with lavish, more than 400-year-old history, culture and tradition, which belongs to the biggest villages in Slovakia. With its history is connected a unique, that time already existing tourist attraction – the Narrow-gauge Railway in Čierny Hron. An eminent native of this municipality is Jozef Dekrét Matejovie, who entered into the history of silviculture because he contributed to preservation of the forests for us by his own job. The Forestry open-air museum is dedicated to woodland, woodlanders and all timber friends built by Lesy SR, s.p., OZ Čierny Balog. The Vydra organization – Vidiecka rozvojová aktivita (Rural Area Development Activity) actively promotes the partnership for reaching sustainable development of rural environment, preservation of traditions, cultural and natural values mainly in the sphere of tourism, namely by means of volunteering.
Relax, edification and entertainment in the heart of nature are available on a 3.3 km-long way of the Forestry open-air museum. On 68 stops the forest reveals its secrets from the history of silviculture, cultivation, woodland protection and work of woodlanders. Gamekeeper´s lodge with museum, natural amphitheatre, playground, refreshment, Info Centre with souvenirs make this unique experience from this European rarity more emotive.
Unique railway connection from Pohronská Polhora to Tisovec was constructed in the period between 1893 and 1986 with its goal to transport raw iron from the southern parts to the metalwork’s and to pick up timber on the way back. The mountain saddle Zbojská did not allow the utilization of casual form of railway, because of steep downgrade and therefore arose a need to construct a 6 km-long cog-railway with maximum hill upwards 50 per mile. This railway is the only one preserved and operated till nowadays in the Central Europe. Beyond the cog-railway, some more interesting and unique technical rarities can be found there. To those belongs, for example, the twice-cusped uphill viaduct under hill Diel. A railway to Tisovec leads under 770 m-long tunnel built in 1949.
Beyond interesting technical solution a journey on the railway offers a beautiful look at natural sceneries of the National park Muránska planina and Čertovská dolina valley. Fabulous timber corners of the saddle Zbojská remind us at the bad times of the robber Surovec and his retinue. Sheep can be seen all around on plains and horses moving timber from woods bring us to ideas connected with old times of our forefathers.
The royal castle was built in 13. century on a unreachable rock Cigánka. It was built to protect the borders of the Liptov and Zvolen siege and its first references come from historical documents from 1271. Its original architectonic view has swallowed almost all of the other buildings constructed later. It was reconstructed and fortified for the first time in the middle of the 15. century, at the era of military forces of Jan Jiskra. It went over another reconstruction in the second half of the 16. century, after 1621 and 1651. Central building of the castle consisted till its destruction of a palace with chapel, surrounded by simple fortification system with bastions and well-considered entrance gateway created a large, elongated yard with its terrain divided only into some degrees. There were placed numerous farm buildings and residential buildings.
The castle had belonged since the end of the 15. century to Jan Zapolsky and Jakub Tornaly. At the time of the reign of his adolescent son governed the castle from 1529 to 1549 Matej Bašo, well-known burglarious knight, who undertook robbery set-ups to wide surrounding with his retinue. He burnt down Levoča, Dobšiná and his name is connected with destruction of the courtesan monastery in Kláštorisko in the National Park Slovenský raj. Finally, 1549 the royal army conquered the castle and the commanders let the Bašo to be executed. The castle remained in the hands of royal chamber until beginning of the 17. century.
The castle became a property of a wealthy family Szechy in 1609. Maria Séchyová, the last successor of the Széchy family, who thanks to her beauty and bravery gained a name “Muránska venuša“ (Venus of Muráň), clandestinely gave over the castle to his forthcoming husband František Vešelényi who was besieging the castle throughout the Juraj Rakoczi I. uprising. There arose many legends mentioned in numerous novels and folk-tales on the love of this lovely couple. The marriage of the Széchény couple caused that the castle inherited Wešelényi himself, who was actually one of the conspirators against the king Leopold II. After the betrayal of the conspiracy, the castle was besieged by imperial army.
The last owners were members of the Coburg family. They lived in the castle until 1945. The whole castle was burned down in the 18. century and by the end of the 18. century nobody lived there yet. It has never been reconstructed anymore, so that by now, there is nothing remained beside the ruins of the foundation of the central building of the palace and the rest of the circuit walls. 1972 the castle was cleaned out and since 1980 gradable necessity maintenance of the castle have been done. There are many events organized in this place that are full of entertainment, but also events organized out of educational reasons. The best access to the castle is from the nature trail from the municipality Muráň passing the tourist cottage Zámok.