Magical town of Banska Stiavnica.
After our successful Facebook live stream video (Thu, April 16, 2020, link to watch it again here) from the Heart of the old town of Banska Stiavnica town, I want to continue with this new travel blog.
Banska Stiavnica is one of the most beautiful historical towns in Slovakia. It attracts photographers, artists, history lovers, and romantic souls. And why?
I fell in love with Banska Stiavnica on my very first visit 20 years ago. I did my first tour here in 2009 and since then I have visited it many times with my family, friends, and a hundred times with tourists. I am sharing with you my tips on what to see, what to do, and of course, where to have a good lunch/dinner and a quality coffee break.
We start at the Heart of the Old town – at the Holy Trinity square. It is not only the hot spot for hobby and professional photographers, but it is also a great starting point for discovering the beauties of this special town. And I also start most of my tours here.
The main square was created at the beginning of the 16th century and is surrounded by Renaissance/Baroque palaces. A massive column – the Holy trinity column dominates the square. It was built as a symbol of victory of the plague, rebuilt in the 18th century by sculptor Dionyz Stanetti.
Consists of the Holy Trinity on the top, coat of arm of the town, Immaculate and the sculptures of six saints, patrons saint of miners – St. Barbara, St. Catherine, St. Francis Xavier – the patron saint of Jesuits, St. Joseph Kalazansky – the patron saint of Piarists, St. Rochus – the patron of beggars and St. Sebastian – the martyr.
At this square takes place different events during the year, the most famous event is undoubtedly the Salamander days in September.
We visit an Adit Michal in Berggericht building on the square. As most of the houses on this square had direct access to the mines, this is a great example and opportunity to visit an adit and become a miner for few minutes and walk through the 75meters long circle.
HOUSE OF MARINA, LOVE LOCKS & LONGEST LOVE POEM IN THE WORLD
In the lower part of the square, there is a House of Marina, nowadays a museum called “Epicenter of Love“. Maria Pischlova – Marina was a student who love our great Slovak poet Andrej Sladkovic. Despite their unfulfilled love, he wrote the greatest love poem – Marina. It is also the longest love poem in the world. Visit the museum, info Here
Going up the square we can enjoy the precisely reconstructed renaissance houses and their facades. After a few minutes of walking, we will reach one of the symbols/dominants of the town – Old castle.
THE OLD CASTLE – FORTRESS SURROUNDED BY DEFENSIVE WALLS
The Old Castle / Starý zámok – beloved by the tourists due to its location and interesting history. There was already in the 13th century on this hill called “Paradajz” built a tiny Romanesque church of St. Mary, later rebuilt into the gothic church. However, in the difficult times of the 16th century, the church was rebuilt into a fortress.
In August 1526 after the Battle of Mohacs in southern Hungary in which the Turks defeated the Hungarians, there was a permanent danger that the Turks will go further to the north to conquer the central Slovak mining towns. The threat took 150 years, but, Banska Stiavnica has never been conquered due to sophisticated fortification walls, Old and New castles, and brave citizens.)
Nowadays, you can find here an exhibition of a blacksmith, pipe workshop, torture chamber, and prison. Practical information about opening hours and entrance fees – Here
WALL DEPICTING THE RICH MINING HISTORY, FAMOUS PEOPLE, LEGENDS & FACTS
Coming down from the Old castle we reach a little square where we can admire the mining development depicted on the wall.
And here is the right time to talk about the mining history and about Terra Banensium – the land of the miners. In the 13th century, Banska Stiavnica was granted the privilege of the royal town and the ruler invited German settlers.
The mining of silver, gold, and copper became the most important between the 13-18th century. In the 18th century, Banska Stiavnica was the 3rd biggest town in Hungary, Empress Maria Theresa established here the very first mining academy in the world, Samuel Mikoviny and Matej Hell constructed a sophisticated system of artificial lakes – reservoirs called tajchy.
In 1993, Banska Stiavnica became a UNESCO World Heritage site.
INSIDE THE ST. CATHERINE CHURCH, PRECIOUS WALL PAINTING OF THE LAST JUDGEMENT
Few steps further, stands an impressive, one of the most beautiful churches of Banska Stiavnica – the late-gothic, Roman-catholic St. Catherine church.
Not far away, another church is located, this one is harder to find, located in a row of other buildings. It is a protestant church from the 18th century. (thanks to the Toleration patent from Austrian emperor Joseph II it was possible to build also other churches than Roman-Catholic, still there were conditions that the church could not have a tower and could not stand out of the street buildings).
THE NEW CASTLE IN THE BACKGROUND AND PANORAMIC VIEWS OF THE OLD TOWN
The New Castle / Nový zámok – walking up through narrow cobblestone street we reach another symbol of the town, – an anti-Turkish fortress from the 16th century.
You can find on 4 floors an exhibition of Turkish weapons, maps, photos, information about the Battle of Mohac where the Turks defeated the Hungarians. From the very top, amazing views are waiting for you. Opening hours and entrance fees Here
The Piarska gate
The only preserved entrance gate from the former 3 gates is the Piarska gate from the 16th century. The town built a system of defensive walls, bastions, and entrance gates to protect its citizens.
The Turks were close but never conquered the town.
The Knocking Tower
The two-story building, once used for calling miners for work. (They were knocking with a wooden hammer on a wooden board). The knocking was also used for other special occasions such as funerals and fires. Nowadays, you can find here a cozy tea house.
MAIN STREET AND IT’S ELEVATED PART CALLED “TROTUAR”
Walking on the main street is relaxing, I really like the elevated part called “Trotuar”. Full of colorful well-preserved houses with little cozy cafes, restaurants, an authentic souvenir shop, and ice cream.
BANSKA STIAVNICA – CALVARY BAROQUE COMPLEX / FROM OUR AUTUMN TOUR
Calvary / Kalvária is one of the dominants of the town on the hill Scharfenberg. Built in the 18th century by the Jesuits, with its churches and chapels, along with its altars, sculptures and frescoes represent and recall the life, suffering, and death of Jesus Christ. The Lower Church, the Holy Stairs are leading to the chapel of the Most Holy Trinity and Upper church.
The 3 biggest and architecturally most significant buildings convey 3 fundamental mysteries such as #1 the Eucharist, #2 the Most Holy Trinity, #3 the Resurrection.
A walk up to the top is quite easy, it is also a spiritually interesting journey. On the top, the spectacular views are waiting for you.
OPENING AIR MINING MUSEUM – ADIT BARTOLOMEJ / WE’RE EQUIPPED AND READY TO GO:)
Mine visit is for adults as well as for the kids an undoubtedly a fun activity. Become a miner for a while, get some instructions, a safety helmet, a protective coat, a torch, and go with your local special mining guide to the underground. It is an easy-to-do activity with plenty of information about mining (from the very beginning of mining in the 13th century and the methods they used up to the end of mining in the 20th century).
It requires pre-booking (especially during the summer months). Opening hours and entrance fees – Here
BETLEHEM IN BANSKA STIAVNICA IS FASCINATING. IT IS A MASTERWORK WORTH STOPPING AND VISIT
The Bethlehem of Stiavnica / Štiavnický Bethlehem is entirely made from wood with movings parts and it belongs to one of the most beautiful and interesting in Slovakia. I love to stop here and explain some more details. From 800 wooden figures approximately 400 moves.
It depicts the history, development, and daily life of the citizens and miners. We go back in time, visit the mines, watch how the miners work, admire the panorama of Banska Stiavnica with all the most beautiful buildings, castles, schools, crafts, we find here the biblical motif – the birth of Jesus.
Peter Chovan is the author of this incredible work.
Opening hours and entrance fees Here
WHERE TO GET SUCH VIEWS? CLIMB UP TO CALVARY. LOOK AROUND AND ENJOY
Why Banska Stiavnica? What is so special here? Is it a unique location in the Stiavnicke hills? The number of well-preserved historical sights, numerous narrow winding up and down streets? Lots of reasons, but how many towns do you know are located inside the huge volcano. No worry, there is no active volcano anymore, but around 15 million years ago, it erupted and it predestined the fate of man and nature. Thanks to the eruption, precious metals came closer to the surface. With a diameter of 25 kilometers, it is one of the biggest in Europe.
Therefore, you can see lots of little hills inside the town (they even have the names such as Scharfenberg, Frauenberg, Paradajz, Glanzenberg)
And in the area, there are plenty of possibilities for walking in nature, hiking, biking, and enjoying summer times in some lakes called tachjs (originally, artificially made lakes for mining purposes).
And the secret for a true discovery of Banska Stiavnica? Walk, simply, go for a walk through the historical narrow streets and squares. I love early walking or even more magical is an evening walking as many of the sights are beautifully lit up (Old and New castle, Calvary, the town hall).
Take your time and enjoy every moment.
RESTAURANT 4SOCHY – FINE DINING IN THE OLD TOWN
Where to have fine dining?
Restaurant 4Sochy situated in a lovely historic 500 years old building offers gastronomical delights. It is an ideal place to try specialties prepared from fresh high-quality ingredients from local farmers. I am here for lunches, dinners. And there is a good choice of quality Slovak wines too. Address: 4Sochy restaurant, Kammerhofska 16, their web Here
RESTAURANT MONARCHIA – TRULY WONDERFUL ATMOSPHERE
Where to have tasty Slovak meals?
Restaurant Monarchia is the best choice. Located in a historical building called Senensisov house – a national cultural monument offers homemade specialties. A cozy place for dinners.
Address: Monarchia, Sladkovicova 2, their web Here
A good quality coffee and homemade cake?
Gavalier cafe, nam. Svatej trojice 18/14
Barcadam cafe, nam. Svatej trojice 17
4Sochy cafe, Kammerhofska 16
MICROBREWERY ERB HAS A GREAT RESTAURANT TOO. MY FAVOURITE IS THE BREWERY GOULASH
A good beer, tasty goulash, and steaks?
Microbrewery and restaurant Erb is the right choice. Address: Novozamocka 2, their web Here
Where to have overnight?
It is not a simple task to find quality accommodation here, however, these two are exceptional.
Villa Magnolia, address: Spojna 5, 969 01 Banska Stiavnica
Villa Barcadam, address: nam. Svatej trojice 17
Thanks for reading my travel blog.
I do believe it was useful, interesting, and motivational for you.
Don’t forget to check out our video of Banska Stiavnica on our YouTube channel.
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