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Prehistoric settlement of Orava

      Settlement of Orava region began somewhere about Stone Age. Findings at the banks Čierna Orava show evidence of Lower Palaeolithic man. Archaeological research had managed to map and confirm the gradual settlement of region in the middle and late Bronze Age and Iron Age (Dolný Kubín, Medzihradné, Tupá a Ostrá skala, Veličná, Oravský Podzámok, Ostražica, Istebné, Medzibrodie, etc.); and in Žaškov site of bronze objects at Pod Hrdošom.The Settlement was not interrupted even in Roman times (Trniny) and later in the period of the arrival of the Slavs into our territory, who settled in Orava between 8th and 9th century AD at the elevated area of Trniny above Dolný Kubín, Istebné – Hrádok, the castle hill at Oravský Podzámok and in fort Ostrá Skala above Vyšný Kubín; remains of Slav fortification “pod Hrádkom” were found in Žaškov.


Early History

     At the end of 11th century after Orava became part of Hungary our ancestors leave prehistoric forts and build houses along streams or other suitable places. Orava was populated very sparsely and gradually from 13th century settlers from Liptov and Turiec filled old villages and found new ones. In many places they cut down forests and adjusted the land by grubbing and burning; changing it to agricultural land. There was a road connection from Liptov to Orava, Tvrdošín, and to Poland; also through valley of Zázrivský potok and Varínky to Žilina. Komjatná already existed on this road so we can assume that Žaškov was founded in the middle of 13th century. First written mention of Žaškov is from 1351, when castellan of Orava castle Michal Štegel gave Žaškov “German – Žilina rights”.  We learn this from document from King Sigismund from 1388, through which he ordered castellan and vice castellan of Orava to not limit the right of Michal, son of Mikuláš, the hereditary mayor (advocatus) from Žaškov (Zsaskow). They were given to Michal’s grandfather Martin by Michal Štegel and they were confirmed by King Louis I. In 1406 he rewrote this protective sheet to Martin from Ružomberok (de Rozenbergh). In 1412 after complaint from hereditary mayor Ján Mazanec (Mozancz) he forbids the district administrator of Orava from violating the Žilina right of habitants of Žaškov. It follows that German right was given by Žilina and hereditary mayor and habitants of Žaškov got same rights as other villages in the circle of Žilina right. Žaškov is also indirectly documented in document about Beňová Lehota from 1380, where it is names “villa Dewzdorg” (German village). German name was supposed to show that Žaškov was first settlement of Orava to adopt German right. By getting the German right in 1351 Žaškov changed its status. Institution of hereditary mayor was introduced. He had wide-raging juridical rights – except of murders, arson and stealing. He kept whole fines in case of minor misdemeanours, 1/3 from crimes with other 2/3 going to landowner, and 1/6 of taxes. His economic rights were: right for 1-2 acres of untaxed fields, mill, tavern, fishing and others, from which he didn’t have to pay taxes. “Grunty” became ownership of habitants who could sell, buy and lend them. In 1420 Zaczkow was under ownership of Orava castle and in 1441 Ján, mayor de Zasskov is mentioned


Landowner of Žaškov

     Landowner of Žaškov was from earliest times the Orava County situated in Orava castle. It included whole region except few thane villages. It was founded in 13th century around castle which was first mentioned in 1267. Territory “property Orava… with castle”, (possession Arwa… cum Castro) meant whole Orava, including villages owned by thanes. Orava was part of king’s property and was governed by functionary (comes) from “Zvolenský komitát” (upper-governing region), which included Liptov and Turiec. It became an independent region in 14th century.

     Settlement of region continued around rivers and commercial roads. The villages were slowly appearing during whole history of Orava, they were based on common domestic rights (Veličná, Revišné, Istebné...), German rights (Žaškov, Párnica, Trstená...), and especially Wallachian rights (Medzibrodie, Bziny, Ústie, Pucov, Chlebnice, Oravský Biely Potok, Námestovo, Zubrohlava, Habovka, Suchá Hora,...), which at the end of 16th century transformed into “kopaničiarke” right (Rabčice, Zákamenné, Veselé, Sihelné, Mútne, Novoť). In 1556 František Thurzo became owner of Orava County and inherited the function of mayor. After death of the palatine Juraj Thurzo and his son Imrich Orava Compossessorate was formed – union of inheritors of seven daughters of Juraj Thurzo, that governed the Orava County till end of serfdom in 1848.


Habitants of Žaškov before 1848

Details of village’s development:

     In tax register from 1547-1548 it is said that Žaškov belonged to Orava castle and had 16 port (lat. for gate, tax unit), hereditary mayor, 5 cotters, 8 paupers, 1 abandoned house, 2 shepherds and 1 servant.


Tax registers in years 1549-1578


 In years

 Number of raľa *

 1549 - 1553






 1556 - 1557




 1564 - 1566


 1567 - 1573


 1574 - 1577








                                                  * raľa = taxed settlement

     In 1598 Žaškov had 37 peasant and cotter houses, in 1604 – 22 houses with 1 being abandoned. In 1608 Juraj Thurzo set up communal levies and charges and defined the borders of the village. Tax register from 1608 shows significant decline of the village; ravaging of Bočkaj’s soldiers, poverty and fire which destroyed three houses, only 6 out of 21 houses were taxed.

     In 1619 Jan who was hereditary mayor had 3 peasants and mill, there were 30 peasants and 11 cotters, habitants had to donate charcoal to the castle.

     Mayor Jakub Párnický (from Párnica), who had little land was in 1619 given whole land called Dierová, which belonged to Štefan Števonka by Juraj Thurzo.

     In years 1624-1626 Gašpar, Ján and Michal Žaškovský (Zesskowsky) were mayors, they had two peasants and three cotters. There were 30,5“raľa” and 14 cotters. Throughout the confines of the area under cultivation was 903 “lukna” (unit of volume) of grain, meadows for 78 wagons of hay, 57 families lived here (about 456 habitants).

     In 1637 mountain meadow Stoh was given to Žaškov. In 1647 Žaškov had 5 “port” (around 20 “raľa) in addition to hereditary mayor. In 1677mayor Matúš Zasskowský with his brother Ján had whole area with “2 peasants and 4 servants), there were 31 peasants and 12 cotters.

     During Kuruc war the village was completely desolated. In 1686 only 4 houses were used, the rest stayed abandoned; “because village is on king’s road and was daily abused by soldiers”. Half of the area was occupied and other deserted.

     In 1715 11 “raľa” were occupied, the area under cultivation was 2370 “korec” (smaller unit of volume) of grain, meadows for 90 wagons of hay and 114 families (912 habitants).


Character of the village

     Mostly peasantry lived in the village. Villagers made living mostly by agriculture, growing of linen, bred cattle, horses, sheep, poultry and bees. In 1719 Žaškov had 2 mills with one stone, 10 pots for alcohol and 6 beehives. Transfer across river Orava to Párnica was provided by ferrymen on hájov – wooden boat. Ferries crossed fords and when the water was high, Žaškov was cut off from rest of the world. Craftsmen are not known to have lived in Žaškov and villagers had to buy necessary crafts in towns Veličná or Dolný Kubín.


Administration of the village

     Since 1351 hereditary mayor (scultetus, fojt, or advocatus) was the head of the local government. They were scions of Jan Mazanec (Mozancz), originally from Ružomberok. Later they took the name of the village as their own, Žaškovský. Mayor had vast juridical and economic rights, see above. They answered to landowner. Apart from administration of the village and acting as judges, they were responsible for proper payment of liege taxes, tens, nines, and state taxes. The village was governed with the help of village servants.


Architecture of the village

     Two-room and three-room log-houses were built. They were covered by triangle roof with protection against rain. Other parts were economic buildings and stables, which continued the axis of the house or in “L” shape. Houses were without chimneys. Smoke from fire was lead through roof to a kind of oven made from stone which captured sparks. Smoke then spread in the loft of the house, which was used to smoke meat and it also protected the roof from mould and pests.



     Žaškov was filial of the oldest parish in Orava, which was established probably in 12th century in Veličná. It is mentioned in written form much later in papal tax 1332-1337 under name “parochia Arauia”. In document from 1559 is Žaškov (Saskow) mentioned as tributary settlement to castle, with filial church. In document from 1560, Žaškov is filial of village Veličná.

     In 1580 parsonage of Lutheran orientation existed here. According to Eliáš Lány in 1611 there was parsonage in Žaškov with filial in Valaská Dubová. Today’s church of Saint Gal was built in 1625. In the unstable 17th century, parsonage was under control of both Protestants and Catholics. After 1709 Evangelist church was disbanded and became filial of Istebné. In 16th century, Žaškov had 13 different priests and 4 teachers. In 1716 the village was assigned to parsonage in Komjatná and in 1754 to Veličná. After Patent of Toleration became official in 1781, Evangelist church was established in Žaškov in 1791 with priest Ondrej Holéczy. In 1792 Protestant church was build and parsonage was added in 1794. In 1892 the church received tower and two bells were bought.



     First school could have been active in 17th century, according to priest Ondrej Holéczy who wrote that the village alternated 4 teachers, we don’t have any more info though. In 1795 Protestant school was build. It was wooden building close to stream which often flooded the school. This is why in 1913 new and more suitable building was built in a better place.


Before theWorld War I

     In the second half of 19th century, after abolition of feudal system, villages developed in new conditions of capitalist competition. Industry wasn’t being developed in Orava and villages remained the same without much change – small agricultural villages. Number of habitants stayed the same. In said period many habitants moved to USA, exact numbers are unknown

     Habitants annually voted their local government which consisted of: mayor, vice mayor, five sworn and later virilists 4 – 5 richest habitants who weren’t voted in. The village was governed by “village statuses” formerly issued by state office and from 1886 the villages issued their own law. Juridical rights were taken from mayor. Apart from local government, village servants were voted. They were usually poorer habitants, without land, who received pay for their work.

     The village had gravedigger who received 1 “zlatý” for adult and 80 “grajciar” for child grave in winter and 80 “grajciar” for adult and 60 for child in summer. He also received “trúnok” (home made alcolhol) and bread from surviving relatives.

     “Vatrovanie” – guarding of the village in night hours was responsibility of every adult male. This duty was passed from house to house.

     Village and field gamekeepers were responsible for order. They walked through village every day to limit damage from lost cattle and poultry, field gamekeepers were responsible for guarding the harvest and assessing damage done by the cattle.

     Village servants were for example the deliverer, shepherds, and midwife, who had to have a diploma. According to counting in 1870, Žaškov with Dierová had 201 houses and 1025 habitants.

     During the WWI the village grew poor and there was shortage of food and clothing, prices were rising. Austro-Hungarian Empire was going to lose, which gave nations hope to achieve freedom. Many men joined the war but the number of the fallen is unknown.


Era of the 1stCzechoslovak republic


     With the foundation of the CSR the political situation in Slovakia has changed. It meant the end of cruel magyarisation and oppression by Hungarian government. This was cause for exceptional political and cultural activity by the citizens.

     The biggest changes came to education, children were taught in Slovak language, Slovak literature and history; the positives were seen on increased number of schoolchildren. There were two schools in the village; protestant school with 3 classes and catholic school with 2 classes. Children under supervision of teachers and with help of fire-fighters practiced Slovak theatre plays. Students attended “gazdinská” school in Veličná and the best ones “meštianku” in Dolný Kubín. Fire brigade was founded in 1925 thanks to teacher Ján Kubačka. In 1922 a wooden bridge was built across river Orava, but it was destroyed by floods soon after. Entrepreneurship grew: 3 shops with draft, 6 cart-wrights, 3 turners, 2 “kušinieri” (furriers), 2 millers, 1 tailor, 1 carpenter, 1 basin artisan.

According to count in 1930, Žaškov had 217 houses with 1132 habitants.


Years of World War II

     After the declaration of Slovak independent state, the political system has changes. Only one political party had power, Hlinka’s Slovak public party (HSĽS) and country became vassal to German Empire. The government declared war against USSR and sent two divisions there; later also declared war against USA and Great Britain. Anti-Semitist laws had been issued. Social situation wasn’t so bad, compared to other countries, although in 1943 there was shortage of food.

     The begging of WWII affected Orava, when Slovak state, after German assault on Poland acquired villages given to Poland in 1920. War status and hatred towards fascism lead to creation of resistance against the regime. 


Slovak national uprising

     In Žaškov it was the Russian refugees from prison camps who sparked the resistance. They met and hid in mountains in Lúčivná, where they formed partisan groups. Two Russian soldiers were hiding at Ondrej Lomáz Dvorštiak. Even before the Slovak national uprising, habitants of Žaškov joined the partisan forces: Ján Pobeha Kalinčiak, Ondrej Kajan, Ján Furinda Talabaj, Ondrej Majda Hraško, Ondrej Furinda Hafura, Ján Migo Fusko, Juraj Piroh ml. and Ondrej Kurnota. During the uprising the fights didn’t hit Žaškov and so habitants provided food and information to partisans in Lúčivná. They provided seven pieces of cattle and other provisions. Ondrej Bajči brought them 2 pieces of cattle and 2 carts of food. In November 1944 citizen of Komjatná told Germans in Párnica that partisans from Žaškov stole from him. Next morning Žaškov was taken by Germans and big investigation was performed. They were looking for four brothers Faglic, who were well hidden and Germans hadn’t found them and nothing was solved. Habitants provided hiding place to several Jewish families in cellars or economic buildings. On 5thApril 1945 Žaškov was liberated without fight by the Red army. Damage caused by Germans: 250 p. of cattle 15 tonnes of grain, 30 tonnes of hay, 18 pairs of horses, 18 carts with harness. Germans should have taken 91 men but in reality took only 21.

Died during the WWII:

  • Ján Furinda Hafura, 11.9.1944 at Vrútky
  • Ondrej Furinda Hafura, 4.4.1945 in Malatinská dolina, buried in Leštiny
  • Ján Venceľ, soldier of Slovak army in Russia, last letter from 2.11.1942
  • Ján Majda Brnka, 12.4.1945 during bombardment at German – French borders
  • Ján Chmára, 4.4.1945 soldier of cs. army at Smrečany
  • Ondrej Migo Heľo, 12.1.1945 soldier of cs. army at Dukla, buried there
  • Jozef Paparčík, unknown date and place in Russia


Changes after World War II


     After the WWII and establishment of communist regime in renewed Czechoslovak republic Orava had undergone huge change. Oravská dam was build and became symbol of the northern part of the region. Villages Slanica, Osada, Oravské Hámre, Ústie and Ľavkovo were flooded. Important industrial companies had been formed, such as OFZ Istebné, SEZ Dolný Kubín, ZVL v Mokradi, which made Orava a modern region.

Majority of the population gradually became employees in industry and services of said companies.

     The village slowly changed from wooden into new bricked one with social and cultural facilities. With great organisational and material difficulties that accompanied “socialistic construction” these were provided: electricity in whole village, new stream for Orava among with regulation of the flow, new wooden footbridge, later two wooden and in 1961 reinforced concrete bridges, telephone lines were set up, asphalt roads were built, water conduit. In 1972 JRD has been founded with headquarters in Oravská Poruba. In 1991 the collective farm broke up and nowadays has 25 employees.

     Kindergarten, primary school, house of mourning, firehouse with firefighting equipment, house of services with shops, post office and general library, cultural centre, which now houses the Municipal office, six grocery stores, hairdresser, car repair were build and municipal radio was established. Sport was on the rise too – 1953 foundation of TJ Sokol and 20 years later construction of football stadium was underway. The village has folklore group “Trnkári” and children folklore group “Trnkárik”. Club of friends of sport repaired the children playground. Since 1972 the village has annually organised running competition “Žaškovský minimaratón”.

     At the beginning of the village there is a motocross track where regular motocross and cross-country races of motorcycles with international participation are organised.

According to the records of inhabitants, Žaškov had in 31.12.2013 1640 inhabitants.

Žaškov became a dynamically developing municipality of the 21st century.