Slovenský Betlehem


There are several places in Slovakia where wood-carvers have put their lathes to the challenge of creating a Nativity scene, but 'Slovak Bethlehem' is the most incredible of the lot. Artist Jozef Pekara (1920–2005) masterminded this 8.5m-long tableau, which not only shows scenes from the life of Christ against a backdrop of Slovakia's best-known landmarks – Bratislava's UFO, vineyards, shepherd country and all – but parts of the sculpture move. There are more than 300 figures in this mind-bogglingly detailed carving.

It's well signposted in Rajecká Lesná, 20km west of Martin and 20km south of Žilina. There are buses from Žilina (€1.80, 45 minutes) but it's most easily visited with private transport.