General information

Centre of tourism Vratna ranks among the most attractive touristic and skiing centres in the Slovak Republic. It forms a part of the mountain Mala Fatra (The Little Fatra), in the north-west of Carpathian arch, situated only 30 km from the city Zilina (read Zhilina), the centre of north-western Slovakia. Vrátna belongs to the village Terchova (read Terkhova) in Zilina District. Specific music and songs of Terchova were preserved up to these days. The area has maintained alive the tradition of the legendary hero Juraj Janosík, captain of group of forest boys - robbers.

Why is Vratna so much sought-for and why are there yearly thousands of visitors from all parts of Slovakia and from abroad? On a relatively small area – cca 36 km2 - a diverse palette of beauty and attractions are concentrated that only nature can provide: peculiar entrance to Vratna through Tiesnavy (Gorges) with bizarre rocky objects; karst Dolne, Horne and Nove Diery (Lower, Upper and New “Holes” – caves) accessible through gangways and ladders; majestic hill Velky Rozsutec – dominant peak of Vratna; panorama of vallyes of Mala Fatra and neighbouring mountains revealing on range tours and during ascent on the tops; rich fauna and flora, variety of birds, peace of forests which you can relish on trips on well marked paths.

Vrátna dolina zima

Skiers are attracted by articulated and varied terrain which guarantees that all, beginners as well as advanced skiers, shall find a convenient slope or a piste. Chairlifts and ski-tows are here at their disposal. Advantageous location also contributes to the popularity of Vratna – it is easily accessible from the main road in direction Zilina – Tatry and it is connected with the neighbouring towns.


Area of Vratna is bordered from the east and the south by double arc of the main ridge of Krivanska Fatra with peaks: Velky Rozsutec – Stoh – Poludnovy Grun – Steny – Hromove – Chleb – Velky Krivan and Pekelnik, from the west by side ridge Kraviarske – Zitne – Baraniarky, from the north by massif Sokolie and Boboty. Between Sokolie and Boboty there is a narrow clef called Tiesnavy, which forms the only access to Vratna by car.

Climate is influenced by a considerably great relative and absolute heights. Round-the-year average attains +6 °C, the warmest month is July with average temperature +15 °C, the coldest - January with –4 °C. Annual precipitations reach 1045 mm.

Vrátna dolina bežkovanie

Flora is very diverse in this area due to a relatively great variety of height. Grow of forests is represented mostly by a spruce and beech, less by fir, maple, ash-tree, hornbeam, birch, sallow, aspen, pine and in isolation also by scarce yew. In the highest parts the alpine plants are preserved especially around Velky Rozsutec. Calcarous covering of Mala Fatra is a nutrient basis for all types of calcphile flowers.

Besides a chamois and a marmot all kinds of mountainous animals live here. From birds several species typical for Western Carpathian Mountains live in this area. Fauna of reptiles and amphibians is not very rich.


Up to the mid of 19th century only shepherds, wood-cutters, hunters, poachers, herbalists used to enter Mala Fatra. Its peaks and the area of Velky Rozsutec were revealed by treasures seekers. From the middle of the 19th century the area has been visited by people who looked for beauty of nature. They took away only a good experience and impressions. This is proved by the oldest notice in Almanac ZORA, volume I, 1835 published in Budin. It was printed by the royal university printing plant in Slovak language codified by Bernolak at that time. The article was written by Dr. Anton Ottmayer (1796 – 1870) compatriot of Zilina who became a professor at the University in Budapest.

A discoverer of the local natural beauty - Dionyz Stur (1827 – 1893) - a significant world-renowned Slovak naturalist and geologist started to visit Vratna and to describe his impressions in the middle of the 19th century. MUDr Karol Barancik (1842 – 1915), native from Stara Bystrica and county doctor in Trencin, visited Vratna with similar enthusiasm. They both described ascent of Velky Krivan and Velky Rozsutec in Austrian botanical journal and ewoked an interest in this mountain also in German and Hungarian journals and yearbooks where number of articles about Mala Fatra had increased from eighties of the 19th century.

The publicity caused that foreign people with rucksacks, who had nothing to do but seek for peace and beauty, started to ramble on the hills.

During the first world war and just after it there was no tourism in Vratna valley. Between 1920 – 1930 first tourists and skiers from neighbouring areas started to come here individually. Visitors from Bohemia and Moravia visited Vratna one after the other.

The first chalet was built under the hill Chleb by tourists and skiers from Zilina. Gradually the chalets grew under Rozsutec and a mountain hotel in Stefanova. All these buildings were burnt by German army during the Slovak National Uprising in October and November 1944. Chalets under Chleb and Rozsutec were rebuilt after the second world war. New facilities arose such as Chata pod Sokolim, Chata Vratna, Chata na Gruni and in Stefanova. In 1950 the chairlift Vratna – Chleb started its operation; in 1952 the first ski tow was built on the slope Paseky. A number of ski tows were built lateron. In 1968 state enterprises started to built their recreation facilities in this area.

Mountain rescue service

Meeting of naturalist´s union in Zilina in 1879 accompanied with trips to Sulovske skaly (Sulovske cliffs) and to Vratna is considered to be the beginning of the organised tourism in Mala Fatra. Budapest branch of Carpathian Society of Hungarian Lands founded the Zilina – Rajec Committee in 1890 which started to mark touristic routes in Mala Fatra. They built first tourist shelter in 1895. It was called “Majhathka” and it was situated under Velky Krivan. Already at that time Dr Brancik, functionary of the branch introduced the book of visitors to Vratna and proposed to employ mountain guides. The Hungarian Tourist Society founded branch in Zilina only in 1918, but owing to the foundation of the Czechoslovak Republic it practically did not start its activity. Ski tourism in Mala Fatra developed relatively late. At the beginning of the 20th century Budapest Ski Club established the shelter “Revajka” in Sinovske sedlo (Sinovske saddle).

Tourism was set in motion after the first world war when in 1918 the Club of Czech tourists spread his activity in Slovakia as the Club of Czechoslovak Tourists. This club founded its branches in Sucany in 1920 and constructed a shelter in Meskalka in 1932. Chata na Medziholi was constructed by famous ski runner and mountain climber Jozef Weider in 1933. Chalets burnt out during the second world war were renovated by the Club of Slovak Tourists after the war and number of visitors started to increase in mountainous areas. New times have brought new mountain transport equipment. First of them, chairlift to Chleb started its operation in 1950. Growth of visitors meant also an increase of sport injuries often ending tragically. This fact motivated the group of inflamed enthusiasts to set a rescue service Mountain Medical and Rescue Organization in 1947 whose leader in Mala Fatra was Eugen Weiner.

Horská služba Vrátna

The effort resulted in Resolution of the Government of the Czechoslovak Republic of 8 January 1954 on development of physical education, sport and carefulness of safety of mountains visitors according to which new Mountain Rescue Organizations were formed within the State Committee for Physical Education and Sport at the Government. Already since 7 February 1954 two mountain guides had been appointed for the region of Mala Fatra, Eugen Weiner and Jaroslav Tejnsky, who helped to organize regional Mountain Rescue Organization Mala Fatra. On 1 December 1954 statute of Mountain Rescue Organization of the CSR was approved. People of Terchova and Stefanova took shares in organization and activities of regional Mountain Rescue Organization Mala Fatra. Jozef Gargulak and Marian Matusek, who worked as chiefs in this region, contributed significantly to development of the Mountain Rescue Organizations not only in a regional extent.

Equipment of the Mountain Rescue Organization was very modest after its foundation. There was no building at its disposal. In 1960 members of the Mountain Rescue Organization built a rescue station at the lower station of the chairlift to Chleb. In 1965 they constructed a station under Prislop and in 1966 a rescue station Paseky. In 1975 a rescue station Velka Raca and in 1978 House of the Mountain Rescue Organization in Vratna were completed. The present and the former members of the Mountain Rescue Organization should be held in high regard for their activity.

Due to the Mountain Rescue Organization the Symbolical Cementary in Vratna was built. A manifest to victims of mountains and warning to visitors were the reasons for its opening. So on 25 July 1998 the Symbolic cementary was opened and consecrated in the spirit of motto: “For memory to deads, for warning to those alive”.

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