Every summer, in the middle of the beautiful Slovak countryside, several hundred people gather in Zaježová. It is a small valley in central Slovakia that was rediscovered in the 1990s by enthusiasts of traditional culture and has since become a place where people have chosen to forego the mass consumer culture of today and strive for a more harmonious and sustainable lifestyle.
In the meadows of the local eco-community, called Sekier, an annual festival of music, local handicrafts and permaculture takes place to entertain as well as educate through discussions and workshops about anything and everything that comes with living in the country.
Make no mistake, this place is far from what it looked like 150 years ago, yet it is closer to the ways of our ancestors than many other villages around. More than that, it is flourishing. In today’s world, urban centres have become a necessity, especially in light of the local economic situation (or the lack of opportunities for change) in rural areas. Young people move to the cities, while older generations remain in the country. That is not the case in Zaježová.
Today there are more than 60 new residents in Zaježová, with their 30 children. Weekend and summer courses are being organised, old houses reconstructed, and an educational centre and school have been founded. Sekier, which is a traditional smallholding, welcomes volunteers or visitors who wish to experience rural community life by getting involved in projects and helping with daily chores.
For international visitors, it is also a great opportunity to discover off-the-beaten-track Slovakia, a small nation with stunningly preserved countryside, where everything is easily accessible in a matter of hours. If you are short on time, take a tour to get a first taste of this wonderful and often overlooked country, but then try going local with something like Zaježová.