Banska Stiavnica is a town in central Slovakia, in the middle of an immense caldera created by the collapse of an ancient volcano. For its size, the caldera is known as Stiavnica Mountains. Banská Štiavnica has a population of more than 10,000. It is a completely preserved medieval town. Because of their historical value, the town and its surroundings were proclaimed by the UNESCO to be a World Heritage Site on December 11, 1993.
Banska Stiavnica – probably the most beautiful medieval town lying on the hills of Stiavnicke mountains listed in UNESCO heritage list. The town has two castles, numerous churches, well preserved baroque and renaissance houses, mining museum and very interesting technical instruments in the surroundings.
The heart of the town is the historical Trinity Square dominated by a monumental plague column. The square is used for frequent cultural events and there is also a mineralogical museum. Two castles, the so called “old” one and “new” one, have been transformed into museums.
in most peoples minds reveals an association with a historical mining town. Most tourists recall traditional school trips. Thousands of students visit Štiavnica even today. The reason is that Banská Štiavnica is a place, which clearly documents meaning of word such is „rich“, „historical“ or „mining“. Unforgettable ambience has been created over centuries of hard work of our fathers, and has left a message to our generation and generations of our children. The message is sometimes clearly exposed, sometimes well hidden in various corners of this scenic little town.
The open air mining museum offers a two kilometers long underground excursion in mines dated to the 17th century. Another ancient mine open to the public (Slovak: Glanzenberg) is even older. This mine, situated just under the center of the town, has attracted numerous famous visitors, from Emperor Joseph II to Prince Albert of Monaco.
many people think of gold and silver. These precious metals have brought Banská Štiavnica to its fortune and fame. The power of these two metals brought to this – previously unknown – territory Celtic explorers, in search of gold and silver. Archaeological treasures found in Banská Štiavnica document this part of our history.
There is a famous story on how the town was established. Its main character is a shepherd, which was guiding its sheep through meadows overlooking a valley that is today a center of Banská Štiavnica. Suddenly, the shepherd noticed something shining, moving through the grass. As he approached the shining mystery, he noticed two lizards – one of them covered with golden powder, the second one covered with silver powder.
When lizards noticed the shepherd, they ran away and hidden themselves under a rock. The shepherd followed both lizards, and under the rock he discovered rich deposit of gold and silver. This mysterious story has spread very fast, and brought hundreds of new settlers into Štiavnica territory. Both lizards found their way to the court of the arms of the royal city of Banská Štiavnica, and have had accompanied people of Banská Štiavnica for centuries.
The town is surrounded by ancient artificial mining water reservoirs called tajchy. Sixty reservoirs were built in the 15th through 18th centuries in order to provide energy for the booming mining industry. They are connected by a more than 100-kilometres long network of channels. These extraordinary historical monuments are now used mainly for recreation.
The most famous ages of Banská Štiavnica are connected with mining activity. In certain times Banská Štiavnica region belonged among world’s most productive centers of gold and silver mining. Entering two of hundreds of original mines originating in medieval ages is a part of essential explorations of Banská Štiavnica treasures.
Bartolomej Gallery is a part of a unique open-air mining museum located at the outskirts of the town, direction „Štiavnické Bane“. Before you enter the mine, you will receive a helmet, lamp, water resistant jacket and you are ready to look for remaining gold and silver under the ground. During the underground route long XXX meters, as deep as XXX meters, you can explore artifacts and information related to the work of miners dating back to pre-historic times till nowadays.
The open air mining museum is located approx. 20 minutes of walking distance, or 2 minutes of driving from the center of Banská Štiavnica, on route to Štiavnické Bane and Levice. Parking spaces are located in the museum.
Interestingly enough, you can walk through the center of the town underground – through the Glanzenberg Gallery. One of entrances of the gallery is located approximately 500 meters from the center of the town, and at its end – approximately under the very center of the town – is located an underground hall, that has been visited by numerous dignitaries during centuries. Memorial plagues are reminders of visits of kings, princes, statesmen and other important personalities. Visiting the mine is possible by reservations only.
Just about 6 kilometers away from Banská Štiavnica is located interesting village named by St. Anton. The village is most known for its picturesque chateau, which houses museum of original historical furniture, as well as a museum of fishing and hunting. The chateau is surrounded by a beautiful park which is a great place to relax during busy days.
A Banská Štiavnica unique water management system, created by a patchwork of water reservoirs and channels, is truly a „must see“ phenomenon. „Tajch“ – or better to say – water reservoirs look like beautiful natural lakes, however, they are part of man-built water management system developed by skilled builders and craftsmen as early as in 18 th century.
The purpose of the water management system was to accumulate water mass, which used to serve as an energy source powering numerous mining machines and facilities. Although there were as many as 60 reservoirs built and interconnected by a network of feeding channels and galleries, only 22 reservoirs survived till the present time. Lakes are well visible in unique natural landscape „patchwork“ and are part of numerous, comfortable routes beloved by hikers, mountain bikers and cross-country skiers.