Village Portraits


In Alsószölnök / Dolnji Senik, which lies seven kilometers away from Szentgotthárd, Slovenes, Germans and Hungarians have been living together for centuries. In 1378, this community was documented by name for the first time (as Zelnuk inferior et superior). The River Raba, which originates in Austria, flows into Hungarian state territory near Alsószölnök. One of the objects of interest of Alsószölnök is the church, which was built in classicistic style in 1815 and was renovated in 2001. Next to this church you can find a statue of the Virgin Mary and a memorial, which commemorates World War I and II. A hill, which is located behind this very church, offers the visitor a stunning view of both the River Raba and of some locations, which are situated across the border in Austria.


The settlement with scattered buildings is characteristic for Apátistvánfalva / Števanovci, which lies about seven kilometers away from Szentgotthárd as well. This village structure features houses, which have been built separately, scattered on picturesque hill slopes. In 1350, Apátistivánfalva was documented by name for the first time. Its inhabitants were the bond slaves of the Cistercian abbey of Szentgotthárd. The church of Apátistvánfalva was built in 1786. The patron and eponym of the village is the Cistercian abbot Harding St. Stephan.


The most western location of Hungary is the community of Felsõszölnök / Gornji Senik, which lies a few steps from the border triangle of Slovenia, Hungary and Austria. Furthermore, Felsõszölnök is the village with the highest density of Slovene-speaking inhabitants, in which the registered seat of the national self-administration of the Slovenes in Hungary is situated as well: 90% of the population is of Slovene descent. In 1378, Felsõszölnök was documented by name for the first time as Zelnuk superior. On the area of the former mayor villages of the Cistercian abbey, which was endowed by King Béla III., the Slovenes from the Raba region founded the settlements in this very region, which still exist today. Inter alia also Felsõszölnök, which belonged to the large-scale landed property of Dobra (Neuhaus – Austria) and which stood under the administration of the Batthyányi family until mid 19th century.  The most famous son of Felsõszölnök is the priest József Kossics (1788 – 1867). What is more, he was a linguist, a historian and an ethnologist. Furthermore, he wrote the first Slovene national monograph in Hungary and many other volumes.  On the cemetery of Felsõszölnök you can find his tomb and on the wall of the village church his memorial tablet. A trail leads from Felsõszölnök to the border triangle landmark, which remembers the demarcation of Trianon.


Kétvölgy / Verica - Ritkarovci is situated directly on the border of Slovenia. Since 2002 a permanent border crossing exists between Kétvölgy and the neighboring Slovene village Čepinci. Kétvölgy is also a settlement with scattered buildings, which occurs only in this region of Hungary. Lush meadows, which are girded by magnificent coniferous woodland, range between the separately scattered farms. As well as the other Slovene-speaking settlements of the Raba region also Kétvölgy belongs to the national park Örség. On 36 Main Street you can find a landmarked renovated traditional house. The building has a straw roof, walls made of mashed clay, a smoke kitchen and a clay floor.


Orfalu / Andovci, with 58 inhabitants, is the smallest Slovene-speaking community in the Raba region. Close to this village lie the Black Lake and its surroundings, the rare flora and fauna of which belong to the increasingly protected areas of the national park Örség. The sphagna, which can be found on the Black Lake and bear witness to the last Ice Age, are considered a curiosity in the evolutionary history of Hungarian fauna. Still today, many mystical stories exist about the Black Lake. It is said that there used to be a nice petty village with a church in its center where the Black Lake is situated today, and that one day a woman was late for Sunday's mass. She swore: "May this church go under!" All of a sudden the earth started shaking and the church sank together with the whole village. Thereupon the whole region of this former small village was covered with water. Down to present day elder inhabitants say that every seven years the cross on the church tower rises from the Black Lake during the full moon phase.


Szakonyfalu / Sakalovci village, which lies about six kilometers away from Szentgotthárd, is accessible by only one road.  The woodland of Szakonyfalu, which is the biggest share of the community area, is an increasingly protected region of the national park Örség. The Roman-Catholic church, which was built in 1922 and renovated in 2002, is considered one of the places of interest of the village. Interestingly, Szakonyfalu was seen as the most western point of Hungary for a long time. However, on closer examination of the map you recognize that this is not the case. Since the true most western point of Hungary, Felsõszölnök village, was hardly accessible before the border opening (1990), the Hungarian Association of Nature Lovers defined the so-called "most western point" near the forester's lodge of Szakonyfalu. A wooden pillar, which exists still today, commemorates this "most western point".



Translation from Hungarian into English and summary: Joël Gerber

Source: "Szentgotthárd és térsége programajánló 2006 "; Virtuart kft. (2006)

               (The English texts about the village portraits refer to the Hungarian original texts)


Photos: Tibor Horváth / Joël Gerber