Banská Štiavnica is a beautiful medieval town in the central part of Slovakia. It is a real treasure, not just because of its historical city center and surroundings but also because it used to be one of the richest cities in Europe. This Slovak hidden gem is very well preserved, and it is also listed as the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Banská Štiavnica was in the 13th century proclaimed a royal town, and later it became the third biggest town in the Kingdom of Hungary (Slovakia used to be part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire). As I mentioned in the beginning, it used to be one of the richest cities in medieval Europe. The reason behind is that it is a silver mining town. Back then, people used to call it the Silver City, and “banská” in the Slovak language actually means "mining". In Banská Štiavnica was also established the first technical university, not surprisingly, the Mining Academy. A lot of useful inventions come from here. For example, gunpowder was used here for the first time in the world.
The most picturesque place in Banská Štiavnica is definitely the Calvary on the top of the hill, from where you can see the whole town. The Calvary is a complex of three churches and twenty-two chapels, all beautifully decorated. In the city center, you can find two castles, the old one and the new one, both transformed into museums. And next to the castles, there is a wooden carved Bethlehem. In the main square, called Trinity Square, is a baroque plaque column you can not miss. And you can find a mining museum there. However, it is not the only one. As I told you, Banská Štiavnica is a mining town! A little bit outside of the city center (but still in a walking distance) is another mining museum, slightly bigger, where everybody gets a cloak, a helmet and a lamp and mines with a guide. Appropriate shoes and clothes are needed!
There are plenty of options where you can rest and have lunch or dinner. Locals favorites are Pivovar Erb or Monarchia Restaurant. They are both in the city center, serving mainly traditional food with a lot of different options and friendly prices. If you are looking for something fancier, I highly recommend the restaurant 4sochy with beautiful interiors and amazing food. If you are in a hurry, no problem. BS street food is serving tasty burgers and Asian noodles to go. For a coffee, definitely the most photogenic spot is Divná pani. It has a beautiful, little terrace. If you are looking for the best coffee in Banská Štiavnica, the answer would be Stará Škola. And if you are not a coffee person, then I recommend Čajovňa Klopačka, a Turkish-styled coffee and tea house with a shisha.
Unfortunately, train or bus connections from Bratislava to Banská Štiavnica are not that frequent, and it might be complicated to get there without a car. But on the other side, this city is a real hidden gem! Banská Štiavnica is a treasure of Slovakia, metaphorically and literally. You can soak up the rich history, enjoy beautiful sceneries, have delicious food and even try to work in a mine for a day.
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