Europe

No Deposits This Year at Love Bank, a Museum of Affection Hit by Fire

For romantics looking to display their passion and devotion, the Love Bank in Slovakia has plenty of room in its Love Vault where 7,000 people have already deposited their keepsakes and symbols of affection, whether reciprocated or unrequited.

But this Valentine’s Day, the bank will be closed.

Its medieval building, once home to the muse for what is called “the world’s longest love poem,” almost burned down last March — the result, apparently, of an electrical fault, not rapture run amok.

But love proved eternal.

Left intact was the building’s underground vault where couples and aspiring paramours from around the globe have secreted their totems and messages in tiny Love Boxes. Also undamaged: the text of the 19th-century love poem that wraps around the walls of the vault like the ivy of infatuation.

The whole idea of a tourist attraction built as a guileless ode to love, and shrine to a Slovak poem, may strike you, at first blush, as defying both rhyme and reason. But since the Love Bank opened five years ago, tens of thousands have flocked to Banska Stiavnica to reaffirm their devotion in that picaresque town, which was founded in the 13th century and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The original 1846 manuscript for the poem, completed by Andrej Sladkovic after his love, Marina Pischlova, married someone else, is in the Slovak National Library in Martin. But a facsimile of the work, certified by the World Record Academy as the world’s longest love poem, is on exhibit in the building Marina once lived in.

A facsimile of the manuscript of “Marina,” a 19th-century love poem that took years to write and has 2,900 verses.Credit…Vladimir Simicek

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