Banska Stiavnica is the oldest mining town of Slovakia, established in the 13th century, although evidence of mining dates back to the late Bronze Age. The city is located in the mountains of Stiavnicke Mountains, this extensive property covers total area of 20,632 ha and include urban centre (UNESCO World Heritage) as well as the surrounding landscape featuring vital relics of the mining and metallurgic activities of the past, especially silver & gold. Banska Stiavnica belongs to the former Royal Mining Cities, which includes in addition to Banska Stiavnica (silver), Kremnica (gold), Banska Bystrica (copper).
In 18th century Banska Stiavnica was a center of mining in former Austro – Hungarian Empire. Between 1790 – 1863 mined here 490 tone of silver and 11 tone of gold.
Banska Stiavnica was also center of mining science and mining schools. In 1735 they established the oldest Austro – Hungarian mining school, in 1762 transformed into Mining Academy, the first worldwide university of mining.
Banska Stiavnica also boast by several inventions, such as: first steel tow rope, or first usage of gunpowder in mines, or system of artificial lakes used for draining the water from mines and also provide energy for them – called Tajchy. Tajchy are system of more than 60 water reservoirs connected each other by sophisticated system of more than 100km channels and tunnels. Need to be underlined that Tajchy represents also in today standards the very ecological sophisticated solution.
At the end of 18th century Banska Stiavnica was the third biggest city of Hungarian part of empire, behind Budapest & Bratislava.In the beginning of 20th century begun run down of mining activity and the last mine was closed in 2001. Banska Stiavnica has became favorite touristic attraction for many Slovaks as well as foreigners, thanks to beautiful landscape and rich architectonic heritage. The beautiful historical city center of Banska Stiavnica is part of UNESCO World Heritage since 1993.
The main highlight of the city center is an Old Castle located on west from Holy Trinity Square. The oldest part of the castle, is the former parish church, together with neighboring karner built both in 13th century, as Romanesque basilica. Today the Old Castle serves as museum.
On opposite hill to Old Castle is located the New Castle, which also serves as a museum nowadays. Feature exposition of anti-ottoman wars and from the castle is a beautiful view on historical city center.
The most historical sites in Banska Stiavnica are located between Holy Trinity Square and Central Square. Both squares are divided by gothic church of St. Catharine from 15th century and by Town Hall with slender tower with the clock.
In the middle of Holy Trinity Square full of merchant houses, is located beautiful Holly Trinity Column. The biggest building of Holly Trinity Square is Hellenbach’s House, which was originally a premise of Mining Court, and afterwards belonged to Mining Academy. Another significant building is a building of Kammerhof, built in 1550, as connection of former gothic houses. Today Kammerhof is a central building of Slovak mining museum. The most attractive part of this museum is Mining Museum in Nature with possibility to go down the shaft.
You can not miss also baroque Calvary with 23 sites located in beautiful nature of Stiavnicke Mountains.