Cave Dwellers of Brhlovce Slovakia

Most people know that at some stage in our pre-history early humans lived in caves because of the shelter they afforded, both from wild beasts and inclement weather. Over time, humans discovered that it was far more practical to build their own dwellings rather than to rely on nature to carve out a home over millions of years of slow weathering.

Cave dwellers never really disappeared; they just become relatively uncommon over time. In some places, such as Cappadocia in Turkey, people still use caves as dwelling. In other places, such as in the opal mining centre of Coober Pedy in Australia, the harsh climate and frequency of disused mine shafts has seen people carve out quite nice dwellings underground in order to maintain a comfortable temperature.

There is also an area in the Nitra region of south west Slovakia where people have utilised caves for living and other purposes. One of the major cities in Nitra is Levice, and about fifteen kilometres east of the city is the village of Brhlovce, which is well known for its cave dwellings.

Although it is known that people have lived in and around the village since Stone Age times, these early humans are not responsible for the caves which are now part of the modern village. Many experts believe that people only started living in the caves in the 16th and 17th centuries as a means of hiding from invading Turkish soldiers. The people believed that they would remain inconspicuous as houses would attract the attention of the Turks, so the caves were originally used as a method of protection rather than for their qualities as comfortable dwellings.

The ploy worked as Brhlovce is a small community of just over 300 residents.

Over the years, the villagers have build facades around the cave entrances, of even incorporated the caves into purpose-built houses in order to expand the caves comfort and usefulness. These days the caves are used for a variety of purposes, such as additional rooms, or as wine cellars, and the village has become a tourist attraction because of its unique qualities.

Within Brhlovce is a whole street with residential and commercial rooms cut into the rock. In 1983 the street was declared as the Folk architecture reserve. There are another two folk houses which are situated outside the Architectural reserve in the village that have been classified as outdoor museums and are an external exhibition of the Levice-based Tekov Museum.

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