Buses and trains are about the same price, there are numerous options:
- Bratislava: By bus: 2 or 3 buses a day, 185 km. By train: Take a quick-train to Hronská Dúbrava (Direction Zvolen), and change there for Banská Štiavnica, 220 km
- Zvolen: (35 km from Banská Štiavnica): By bus: Direct connection established; By train: Both direct and indirect trains run, for indirect change at Hronská Dúbrava railway station.
- Prague: Take a bus or train to Zvolen (580 km), and change there for Banská Štiavnica
- Vienna: Take a bus to Bratislava (75 km), then see above
- Budapest: Take a train to Zvolen (215 km from Budapest Keleti), then a bus or a train to Banská Štiavnica
- Kraków: Take a bus to Zvolen (320 km)
Get off the highway R1. After some 20 km of winding and relatively narrow roads, you will reach the destination. A good and 3 relatively cheap parking is available nearby the New castle. If you can find a free spot, you may also park in the city center - which is however just some 5-10 minutes walking from the aforementioned spot.
The old town is compact and easy to walk in.
Taxi numbers can be found at the tourist office or possibly at your accommodation.
The World Heritage Area
The area inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List includes a wide territory surrounding the town of Banská Štiavnica, located in the centre of the Štiavnica Hills. They are the largest volcanic mountain range containing minerals and rock from all the periods of neovolcanism (andesites, rhyolites, rhyodacites, dacites, whinstones, their tuffs and pyroclastics). Older rock strata from the earlier Paleozoic and Mezozoic time periods appear on the surface in the tectonic window of Hodruša - Vyhne. This area is known as a mecca of minerals with nearly 150 types of them. Gold and silver bearing ores as well as other polymetallic deposits were continually exploited in the district of Banská Štiavnica as early as the 11th century. In 1156 this area was called "terra banensium", i.e. the territory of miners (in 1217 Bana), and the richness of silver ores gave rise to the name "Argentinofodina" in the 12th and 13th centuries. The prevalent form of the terrain is a cut off fluvial plateau, a highland and upland fork-like relief, stepping down to pediment hilly country. Weathered remains of funnels and mineral veins often stand out as cliffs with stone seas (in Vyhne).
A considerable part of the territory is deforested and changed into plowed fields, orchards, meadows and woody landscape interspersed with the mining works (waste dumps, shafts, probing openings, landfills, pits and reservoirs). As many as 29 species of protected plants and 11 species of protected animals occur in the Protected Landscape Area of the Štiavnica Hills.
There are several archeological finding-places in evidence in the region - the historic core of the Town Monument Reserve, Štiavnické Bane, Glanzenberg, Offenhubel, Terézia Shaft, Horná Roveň, Sitno Hill, ruins of the castle at Sitno - Ilija, as well as national cultural monuments and sites and technical ones.
Archeological sites included on the World Heritage List
- The Town Monument Reserve: The archeological researches have been implemented several times in the historic core since 1968, especially in connection with renewal of the important cultural monuments. The finds have documented the settlement of the town connected with mining activities since the end of the 12th century (indirectly since the 11th century). This is proved by the finds of mining tools (instruments, technical ceramics, mining lamps) and production objects (a smelting furnace, mining galleries worked by hand with a hammer and a chisel and only one side vaulted). Following are the specific localities which yielded the archeological information: the Chamber Court at Kammerhofská Street 2 and 3, A. Kmeťa Street 20, Radničné Square 8, Holy Trinity Square 2, Radničné Square 16. The archeological researches also contributed to delineate the oldest urban core of the settlement agglomeration - the future town, preserving the character of the dispersed building structure along the main roads until the 15th-16th centuries and conditioned by the rugged landscape relief. Now the site of archeological research is the locality of the Dominican monastery complex, very close to the original Romanesque basilica. The research is focused on the genesis of the building which is not clear due to the interruption of the stay of the Dominican Order in Banská Štiavnica because of the Tartar invasion (1241–1242, 1275).
- Glanzenberg - the Old Town: The fortified premises with the central tower building (from the 12th century) and protecting the mining district (the veins of Špitaler and Bieber), at the turn of the 13th century rebuilt into an extensive castle. After the demolishing of the castle in the 15th century, production equipment was there, connected with ore mining on the close Špitaler vein.
- Štiavnické Bane - Horná Roveň - the area of the Terézia Shaft, traces of technical and settlement objects from the 15th to the 18th centuries.
- Štiavnické Bane - Tanád - open-surface excavations on the Terézia vein - finds of metallurgical slag.
- Štiavnické Bane - Offenhubel - finds of slag proving ore testing right on the mining site.
- Sitno - archeological locality: The largest and highest situated hill-fort from the late Bronze Age, where settlement took place in the 8th century BC. This administrative, military and economic power centre was connected with settling of the hilly areas of the central Slovak territory, rich in copper. Archeological finds of stone molds for casting bronze chisels, semi-manufactured goods, slag, as well as deposits of bronze objects in the vicinity suggest the existence of a metallurgical workshop there. The importance of the locality in its changed function was renewed in the middle of the 13th century when there was built the castle to protect the roads leading to the mining district. In the 16th century, the castle served to defend the central Slovak mining towns against the Turkish danger.
Sights, natural and technical monuments
- 1 The Holy Trinity Square (Nám. sv. Trojice). It was built in the early 16th century and it forms the architectural heart of B. Štiavnica. Its shape had been determined mainly by the Town Hall and the Church of St. Catherine. It is lined by splendid houses that had been owned by rich burghers and mining entrepreneurs. In the middle of the square the eye of each visitor is caught by the stately Holy Trinity Column. It was built out of gratitude for the end of the plague which had troubled the town from 1710 to 1711. It used to be very simple - its current form is of later origin. It is the work of the famous sculptor Dionýz Stanetti. The structure is embellished by figures of seven saints - protectors of the town and patron - saints of miners.
- 2 Town Hall (Radnica). This house, built as a single floor building, dates back to the 14th century and it used to host the sessions of the town council. In the early 16th century the Chapel of St. Anne was pulled down to give way to the sculptural group of the Virgin. The Town Hall´s present aspect dates back to the period of 1787-88 when it was rebuilt. Int its celars, there used to be the town prison.
- 3 The Knocking Tower (Klopačka). This tower-like building with Renaissance and Baroque features dates back to 1681. It contains a sound apparatus which used to remind the miners of the hour when they were to start work. Knocking was also used to announce various festive occasions, miners´meeting, funerals, even as a warning during fires. In the 18th century, the ground floor of this building was turned into a prison for miners convicted by the Mining Court.
- 4 The Old Castle (Starý zámok), Starozámocká 40/10. In the early 13th century a Romanesque basilica with three naves was built on a projection shooting off the Paradajz hill - the Church of Saint Mary. In the 15th century a wall was erected to protect the church and the cemetery next to it. In the 1540s the church was rebuilt so that it could function as a fortress against the Turkish raids. The vault above the main nave was pulled down - the present courtyard of the castle emerged. Later the walls were fortified. The building complex of the Old Castle includes also the Chapel of St. Michael. This Romanesque rotund building has two parts: the above-ground carnarium was used as a place where dead bodies were laid before burials, in the underground ossarium bones extracted from old graves were kept. There are interesting fragments of 14th century frescoes on the walls of the Chapel. The nearby "Himmelreich" bastion also dates back to the 14th century and it has a history of serving as a prison. There are expositions of sacral art, world famous tobacco pipes from Stiavnica, the craft of blacksmiths and baroque sculptures. (13th-18th century)
- 5 Church of St. Catherine (Kostol sv. Kataríny). The late gothic Church of St. Catherine was built in 1491. Its only nave is topped by a star-shaped vaulting. The nave is lined by lowerside chapels. In front of the Church there is a crypt where mayors and important burghers are buried. Since 1658 the Church of St. Catherine hosted Slovak preachers and was called "The Slovak Church".
- 6 Church of Ascenssion of the Virgin (Kostol Nanebovzatia panny Márie). Built as a Romanesque basilica with three naves, constructed in the 1230s, this church went through architectural changes. After a fire (1806) and reconstruction its Classical aspect emerged. The church belonged to the Dominican friars until 1536. In 1575-1669 it was used by the Protestants and later by the Jesuits (until 1773 when the Jesuit Order der was abolished). In 1776 the church was transferred to secular clergy, becoming the ain parish church. It is called "German Church", because it hosted Cerman preachers.
- 7 Evangelical Church (Evanjelický kostol). This church was built in 1794-96 by a native of Banská Štiavnica, the architect F. Sivák, according to the project of the Vienna-based architect J. Tallher. It has no tower and it is a part of a row of bulidigs lining the street. Only its façade and dome stress the fact that is a sacral building. Its aspect is largely due to the Tolerance Deeds of the Emperor Joseph II., specifying how Protestant churches should look.
- 8 The Piarg Gate (Piargská brána). This Renaissance gate was adorned in Baroque style in the 18th century. It was built in 1554 as a part of the fortification system which had two parallel lines and connected individual houses by walls. The main roads leading to the town were protected by six gates, of them only the Piarg Gate has been preserved.
- 9 The New Castle (Nový zámok). This is one of the most elegant architectural dominants of the town. It stands as if on guard near the entrance to Banská Štiavnica. The New Castle is a whitewashed Renaissance fortress on the Frauenberg hill and it was built in the period of 1564-71 with the purpose to protect the town against possible invasion of Turkish army. The fortress was rebuilt then, but without significant changes. Nowadays it is a six-floored building with four corner bastions and several embrasures. It used to be a part of the town fortification system. It is also known sa the Virginal or Maidenly Castle, however, this name is of later origin and it was most probably derived from the name of the hill where the building stands. Later the New Castle served also as an observation point.
- 10 The Calvary (Kalvária). This complex of sacral buildings set in a beautiful scenery is a superb demonstration of human art intertwined with nature's charms. The corner-stone for the Calvary was set on September 14 th, 1744 and in almost exactly seven years, the complex was finished. The whole project was initiated by the Jesuit priest František Perger. The Calvary consists of 23 objects, representing a true gallery of sacral art, depicting the last moments in the life of Christ.
- 11 Academy of Foresty and Mining (Banícka a lesnícka akadémia). In 1762 Maria Theresa founded the Mining Academy in Banská Štiavnica - the first school of its kind in the Hungarian Empire. It functioned until 1919 and hosted important European experts and investors. Upon the Academy the Paris Polytechnic School was modeled. The Academy´s chemical laboratories were among the best equipped in the 18 th century. It educate 10.000 experts who worked in the most important mining, smelting and forestry units around the world.
- 12 Botanical Garden (Botanická záhrada). This garden of 3.5 ha was completed in the period of 1838-61. College teachers like R. Feistmantel, K. Wagner, F. Illés, ľ. Fekete and E. Vadas were the main initiators of its foundation and development. The garden is divided in two parts by a road. Both parts contain a variety of domestic and exotic plants, there are altogether about 250 specimen, here. Come and enjoy a rare sight in this climate: gigantic redwoods, Lebanese cedars, Atlantic cedars and other precious flora.
- 13 Banskoštiavnický betlehem, Radničné Námestie 11/20. One of the biggest wooden Betlehems of the country.
- 14 Svätý Anton Manor (Kaštieľ Svätý Anton), Svätý Anton 291, ☏ , email@example.com. One-storey square castle with an inner garden and a fountain. A large collection of historical furniture, especially seating furniture. Expositions of Art and History, Hunting and Park. The complex was in 1985 declared as nation cultural monument. 10€ - 12€.
- Reservoirs - Artificial Lakes Around Banská Štiavnica. The Banská Štiavnica area is famous now for its unique hydro-system of artificial lakes - reservoirs. Its construction had begun in the early 16th century and lasted until the mid-19th century. The whole system consisted of 60 artificial lakes with the overall capacity of 7 million m³. The reservoirs were connected by ditches. Given the fact that the area of Banská Štiavnica never abounded in natural water resources, the ditches were very useful - they collected and kept snow and rain and the resulting water then accumulated in reservoirs. Through a different sort of ditches it flowed to mining machinery. Important investors and technology experts like Matej Kornel Hell, Jozef Karol Hell, but most of all the scientist Samuel Mikovíni contributed largely to the construction of this system. Nowadays there are 23 reservoirs preserved
- The Slovak mining museum in Banská Štiavnica has locations:
- Open - Air Mining Museum (Banské múzeum v prírode): 1 km outside the town. An attractive exposition placed in former medieval mines. Follow the underground path, through old galleries, where silver and gold were exploited. On the surface is an exhibition of mining architecture and machines.
- 5 Kammerhof (Mining exhibition) (Expozícia Kammerhof). One of the largest building complexes in the town and it dates back to the early 16th century. The whole complex went through various stages of reconstruction and enlargement, therefore it bears traces of all architectural styles. It used to serve as the seat of the Mining Chamber and the Office of the Chamber Count - the administration of mines, smelting works and mints in the region of today's Central Slovakia. Its exhibitions are focused on mining, mining science, technology and education in Slovakia, on book culture and on the various world primacies of the town of Banská Štiavnica in the past.
- Mineral exposition (Mineralogická expozícia): Beautiful minerals from all over the world. In the courtyard, there is an old mining gallery.
- Jozef Kollar Gallery (Galéria J. Kollára): Art from the 13th to 20th century, paintings, sculptures, precious gothic sculptures and paintings from Master M.S.
- The Mansion in Sant Anton (Kaštieľ vo Svätom Antone): Exhibition of art history and hunting. The Baroque-Classical Mansion was built in 1744-1750. The Coburg and Koháry families owned this beautiful building and its last inhabitants was the Bulagrian Tzar Ferdinand Coburg. The interior of the mansion contains historical furniture: from Baroque to the late 19th century. Many of the exhibits had belonged to the personal property of the mansion's owners. 5 km from Banská Štiavnica.
- Festival of Tricks, Craft and Entertainment (May). Traditional festival of crafts with a rich cultural programme. There are presented the traditional Slovak crafts and visitors of the event may try them.
- Spectaculum Ignis (June). The festival of fire on the occasion of the midsummer accompanied by a lot of other activities aimed at rites motivated by the cult of the sun and fire including the main night programme.
- Animatus Lusus (Festival of Live Chess) (July). The town historic centre revives by the atmosphere of the Middle Ages. Chess 2000 players will play blind with live chessmen dressed in medieval costumes. Visitors will be able to see also a medieval craft fair, fire show, display of chessboards, fencers and other attractions.
- Festival of Nice Music (July). Classical music in old spaces. Concerts given at the Old Castle courtyard at candles as well as in the picturesque chapel of the manor in the close village of Svätý Anton.
- St. Hubert´s Days (September). Slovak nation-wide hunting festivities, XI European Championship in luring a deer, St. Hubert´s Mass at the Manor in Svätý Anton.
- Salamander Days 2010 (September). Municipal festival of Banská Štiavnica. Salamander procession, shaft´s day, going down to the Glanzenberg gallery, municipal awards, rich programme and good refreshment.
- 1 Malls (Drevená street). Lidl and Billa
Miscellaneous small shops are scattered around the old city main street.
- 1 Penzión na Kopci, Športová 781/8. Relatively expensive restaurant (meals €8-20), but Monday-Friday around noon, there is a delicious daily Slovak style menu (soup, main course and drink) for €4.5.
- Apartment.ajaj.sk, Banská Štiavnica.
- 1 Hostel 6, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. The hostel is in the center of Banská Štiavnica, 100 m from the town’s main square and next to the famous teahouse Knocking Tower. The building dates from the 15th century and offers a great combination of restored historical interiors and comfortable rooms. All facilities are new and the rather small size of the building with its cosy atmosphere – just 14 beds – makes you feel at home. Our terrace is situated high above all the town’s main sights enabling you to enjoy a wonderful panoramic view without making a step out.
- 2 Penzión Terra Banensium, Okrúhla 1245/8. Small pension with lot of thinks for kids - cribs, baby bathtub, and also inner play area, outside swing, slide, trampoline. The host is friendly, helpful and likes kids. The price is higher if you use booking.com. €35.