In a small medieval Slovak town, couples are getting ready on Valentine’s Day to make a “deposit” about their romance in a place dedicated to love stories. The “Love Bank” is the main attraction of an exhibition commemorating the world’s longest love poem, Marina by Slovak poet Andrej Sladkovic. Written in 1844, the 2,900-line long poem tells the tale of the doomed love between the poet and Maria Pischlova. They were star-crossed lovers, but unlike Romeo and Juliet their tragic romance is a true story. Marina’s parents shunned the poor poet and forced her to marry a wealthy gingerbread maker.
The house where Marina lived in the former silver mining town of Banska Stiavnica is now known as the “Epicentre of Love” and features an interactive exhibition inspired by the poem, including a “love-o-meter” measuring the strength of a couple’s affection. “Our visitors say they are amazed by how a part of history and a poem that was on their elementary school compulsory reading list has been turned into a hands-on experience,” said Katarina Javorska, spokeswoman for the NGO running the exhibition.