Orava is situated in the northernmost part of the Žilina region and covers 1 660 km2. It borders Poland in the north. Population is mainly concentrated in the valleys of the river Orava and its tributaries flowing from the mountains: Beskydská vrchovina highlands, karst Chočské vrchy mountains, Malá and Veľká Fatra National Parks, Oravská Magura and Oravské Beskydy, Polhorská vrchovina highlands, Skorušina and finally the West Tatras – Roháče with the highest peak Baníkov – 2,178 m a.s.l.

The sub-region used to be a part of Orava County until 1922 and then belonged to Považská County. It consists of three districts. The seats of districts were changed several times in the past but since 1996 they have been in the towns of Dolný Kubín, Námestovo and Tvrdošín. At present, a population reaches 130 000 inhabitants; there are 4 towns and 59 villages.

Orava together with neighbouring territory called Liptov features the largest number of cultural relics within the Žilina Self-Governing Region. Most of them are sacred buildings of high cultural and historical values. The monuments of folk architecture and other archaeological sites altogether create another specific group of historical relics. Therefore, tourists can admire a great variety of cultural sites in Orava. One of the best known and most significant places of interest is the National Cultural Monument - Orava Castle, located in Oravský Podzámok. It is the most visited castle in Slovakia, renowned for various thematic events and exhibitions. Its beautiful scenery was chosen as the setting for several films, including the first black and white horror film in the world 'Dracula', which was shot there in 1922. There are urban protected zones in Oravský Podzámok, Trstená and Tvrdošín. The open-air museum of folk architecture in Podbiel is popular with tourists for 72 log houses presenting traditional housing in the region. The list of sites worth seeing is enriched with a historical cemetery and a 120 metres long wooden colonnade bridge in the town of Dolný Kubín, the historical logging railway Chmúrna-Tanečník in Oravská Lesná, or the Museum of Orava Village in Zuberec-Brestová. The Gothic wooden church from 15th century in Tvrdošín has to be mentioned as well. The town was awarded the Prize Europa Nostra in 1993 for saving this unique church which is recorded in the List of UNESCO World Cultural Heritage.

Orava Museum of P. O. Hviezdoslav in Dolný Kubín plays a very important role in the culture and preservation of historical monuments. The museum has the exhibitions in Orava Castle, Literary museum of P. O. Hviezdoslav, Florin´s house, Čaplovič´s library and Memorial House of Martin Kukučín in Jasenová, most of them are focused on famous Slovak poets and writers who were born in Orava. Other famous attractions are the Orava Library and Orava Gallery in Dolný Kubín with its branch the Gallery of Mária Medvecká in Tvrdošín as well as the Slanica Island of Art at Orava Dam near Námestovo.

The travel and tourism concentrates not only in the towns but also in some important natural resorts – Roháče, Oravice and Orava Dam. These areas attract tourists both in winter and summer seasons with their ideal conditions for recreation, rural tourism and sports such as trekking, MTB, downhill and cross-country skiing, as well as water sports like windsurfing, yachting and fishing at Orava Dam Lake. The most beautiful part of Orava is the West Tatras (Západné Tatry) and their Orava part called Roháče. The monumental Roháče valley is surrounded by a wreath of magnificent mountains. Ostrý and Plačlivý Roháč used to remind the Orava people of dangerous devil´s horns, perhaps it gave the mountains their name – Roháče (horns). The area rich in natural beauties is a part of the High Tatras National Park and is available for keen hikers. Horná Orava territory is a protected natural reserve. The village of Oravice, situated close to the Slovak-Polish border, is renowned for thermal water with beneficial effects and due to its position offers splendid views of the West Tatras.

The folk festivals and other cultural and sport events with international participation contribute to the development of travel and tourism in this region. The picturesque sub-region of Orava is very attractive for any visitor – those keen on history and architecture, nature and sports lovers as well as the people who are interested in traditional folk culture.


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