When I first heard the name Banát, I thought it was the name of an island somewhere in the South Pacific. Boy was I wrong. But yes, it is in the middle of nowhere.
Banát is an area in Romania with Czech villages in it. It spreads to other countries and there are different “villages” but let’s stick to the Czech ones for now. I was lucky enough to film a mini-documentary series about this region 5 years ago. We drove for a full day, more than 1000 kilometers from Prague – thru Slovakia, Hungary and Romania and finally arrived to Svatá Helena (Czech village). I was still skeptical about what I will see there. I have entered the local pub/store and the person behind the table said “Dobrý den, co si dáte” (Hello, what can I get you – in Czech!). I was shocked. Just so you understand this, our country is really small, so if you drive just a couple hours in any direction, the language changes. So to hear Czech so far from home was simply amazing.
These villages were settled back in the 19th century, by Czech “immigrants”. The Austro-Hungarian Empire had a new border there and needed the empty lands to be settled by their people. If you moved from the Czech lands, you received free land, didn’t have to pay taxes for many years, and didn’t have to go to the army. Since this place is very isolated from any other towns or villages the Czech traditions, way of life and even the language remained to this day. And believe me, the area and more importantly the people are amazing. I go to Banát every year now, so if you ever have a chance to visit, please do so. You can get in by car, or you can visit the Czech music festival, that happens there every year and use the transport provided by them. They usually send out a special train with 1000 people and musicians on board, so you can imagine its a fun ride. If you go, you can stay with the locals. They will treat you with accommodation, food, drinks and great atmosphere. The price is usually around 15 euros per person per night. You can find out more details about this at https://www.visitbanat.com/
Keep in mind that everything in Banát is as “local” as it gets. My favorite part is the food. You won’t get any more organic than this!
The video we made was actually shot back in 2018 with my friend Ondřej. So Honza was not yet in Banát, but I hope I will eventually lure him to go. Enjoy our little guide, and all the pictures.