Spišský Hrhov, Slovak Republic

Spišský Hrhov is a village with me 1.300 inhabitants and is located in immediate proximity to the formerly meaningful city Levoča. It is surrounded by a hillock landscape. Numerous impressive buildings reflect the rich historic background of the village, particularly the old new-baroque castle, the church, an old bridge and the scenic village center that was renovated and enhanced by wooden art designed by creative village inhabitants.

The infrastructure is well organised and a community center, public pool, wellness and fitness center as well as sports fields and a gallery plus workshop can be found. A Day Care Center for senior citizens with a diverse variety of activities and cultural programmes adds to the portfolio.

The municipality was one of the first to set up a village renewal plan within Slovakia and since 2003, it has been successfully implementing it. It combines economic, social, cultural, ecological and urban planning aspects.

Remarkable about Spišský Hrhov are its people. Around one third of the population are part of the ethnic group Roma, along with whom new ways are found to create a peaceful coexistence within the village. Before this background, the village renewal process aims to create working spaces for both non-Romas and Romas. The municipality has found an innovative and brave way to do so by founding its own enterprise and thus creating sustainable jobs – which lead to economical and social success. The company makes profit every year that is used for new investments for the development of the community and additionally, unemployed Roma could find a job to improve their financial situation as well as to be more accepted. Particularly noteworthy is the equality of chance for women.

Particular focus is put on the subject of education, which targets integration as well as to support the togetherness of various life styles and cultures. For this reason, the school administration created an innovative concept based on close communication among teacher, students and parents. At the center of this process is the support of talents and a better understanding for one another and each other’s cultures. There is also a particular focus on the learning of foreign languages, experiencing nature and developing handicraft skills. The first advanced training for pedagogic personnel is enforced and thus supported by the municipality. Also noteworthy is that, aside from the elementary school, there is also an arts school that teaches music, dance, literature as well as theatre and audiovisual and multi-media design.

Spišský Hrhov knows that rejection, hostility and ignorance are not solutions when it comes to meeting other cultures. Instead their community sees eye to eye and gives equal opportunties, rights and duties to its people. This is not only remarkable but also very successful. The quality of life was improved for all inhabitants by the means of intense efforts of integration.

This village excellently meets all standards of the motto “being open” and can be considered a role model for all of Europe.

Evaluated: 2016


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