Many say Banská Štiavnica is the most beautiful town in Slovakia. Everyone knows that it attracts artists, romantics and generally all people able to perceive its magical atmosphere. But no one can say certainly what the core of its magic is. Maybe it is because the town’s location in the centre of a long-extinct volcano, maybe because just below the surface it has kilometres of mining tunnels drilled through the ground like Emmenthal and maybe it is the result of its picturesque architecture… One way or another, the visitors keep coming back.
Its history is fascinating: the town used to be one of the most important in the Medieval Europe. It used to be Europe’s Eldorado, the richest gold and silver deposit. It used to be called “Silver Town”. Its treasures hidden underground payed for the palaces built in Vienna and Budapest and the town itself used to be the third biggest one in the Kingdom of Hungary. In Štiavnica you could find alchemy, Freemasons and top science with education, too. It was here that gunpowder was used for blasting rocks for the first time in human history. The first technical university in the world – the famous Mining Academy was established at this place and many technical inventions spread into the world right from here. One of the most sophisticated and the largest hydro-power systems was also developed here, in Banská Štiavnica: artificial water reservoirs called tajchy. Moreover, it is the place where a famous Slovak author Sládkovič fell in love with his Muse Marína.
At present the town attracts visitors by its splendid and untouched architecture, churches and palaces of rich burgesses in the town centre and humble mining houses scattered on the steep hillsides. Narrow romantic streets and hundreds of stairs interconnect the “storeys” of the town. Štiavnica is photogenic, as if time has not affected it: you will find here no traffic lights or billboards. Traditions are kept here. No wonder, Štiavnica is in the List of UNESCO World Heritage.
It is well-known for its rich cultural life. Going along the streets, you can meet painters with stands, photographers. Every now and then you will meet people in historical costumes or a street happening. Musicians jam in stylish cafés and pubs; sometimes it is not easy to choose from the wide range of concerts offered. There is always something going on in Štiavnica.
The town is always beautiful – in spring, autumn or winter. Though in winter it loses its summer exuberance, there are fewer visitors and it seems that time has stopped, it is the time of walks, marvellous views and mountain biking. Mirror-like surfaces of tajchy reflect the mountains surrounding them and depending on the season, they are available for swimming, autumn walks or ice skating.
There is one widespread aphorism about Štiavnica: People are divided into two groups: those who love Štiavnica and those who have not been there yet.
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