These articles were published in the Spectacular Slovakia travel guide, published annually by The Slovak Spectator since 1996. The latest editions can be obtained from our online shop.

Banská Bystrica

By James Thomson

    SNP Square in Banská Bystrica.
 SNP Square in Banská Bystrica.
 Photos by James Thomson

Banská Bystrica, the regional centre, is Slovakia's central crossroads. The best way to arrive, if you have time, is by the Horehronec train from Košice which follows a beautiful route through the Slovenský Raj national park and the Hron valley.

The main square, named after the Slovak National Uprising of 1944, is one of Slovakia's best, lined with Renaissance and Habsburg townhouses. At the top of the square, the town's sixteenth-century clock tower leans to the left in a rather disturbing manner, the result of the collapse of a neighbouring building. If you're brave enough, you can go to the top for a panoramic view of the town and surrounding valley.

The castle(map D4), also near the top of the main square, is where the town's revenues from the surrounding silver and copper mines were stored. Parts of the wall and barbican remain, but the oldest structure is the 13th-century Romanesque Church of the Assumption.

Other notable buildings include the Central Slovak Museum(map C5), housed in a sixteenth-century house covered in sgraffito decoration which once belong to the Thurzos, a prominent mine-owning family; and the Benický House, with its unique first floor open arcaded gallery.

Like Banská Štiavnica, the city's architecture rewards the wanderer. There is a pleasant park west of SNP Square, near the university. Across the Hron River from the centre is a hill with a Calvary which was reopened after renovation in 2008.

One other historical curiosity in Banská Bystrica is on the main road south towards Zvolen. The first Slovak branch of McDonald’s opened here in the mid-1990s, before even Bratislava was so blessed. Strange to say now, but there was a time when it attracted homesick ex-pats on long diversions in search of a comforting burger. It is still there, should you wish to re-live their heady experiences...

Events in Banská Bystrica

February: International Tourist Guide DayFree sightseeing tour of Banská Bystrica

February: Banskobystrická latka International high jump contest

March-April: Banskobystrická hudobná jar (Banská Bystrica Musical Spring) Classical music festival

April: Day of model building International model building contest

April: The Viliam Figuš-Bystrý Choir Festival Classical music festival

May: Envirofilm International film festival

May: International Dixieland Festival Jazz festival - at Námestie SNP in Banská Bystrica, as well as in three other European towns in Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic

August: The Barbakan multimedia project International music, film and fine art festival

September: Banská Bystrica Town Days Traditional Radvan market (Radvanský jarmok) and many attractions reflecting town’s past and present

October: Art Therapy: From the Margin to the Middle International comunity theatre festival

November: AMFO - national amateur photo competition Exhibition


 © MAPA Slovakia Plus s.r.o., 2008

1.Barbakan with Baroque Tower

Nám.Š. Moyzesa (map D4)

2.Baroque Church of St Francis Xavier

(Kostol sv. Františka Xaverského), Nám. SNP 26 (map D5)

3.Benický’s House

(Benického dom), Nám. SNP 16 (map C5)

4.Central-Slovak Gallery

(Stredoslovenská galéria), Dolná 8 (map B6)

5.Central-Slovak Gallery / Former Town Hall

(Stredoslovenská galéria / Stará radnica), Nám.Š. Moyzesa 25 (map D4)

6.City Clock Tower,

Nám. SNP 29 and 24 (map D5)

7.Cultural and Information Centre

(Kultúrne a informačné stredisko), Nám. SNP 14 (map C5)

8.Dance Theatre

(Štúdio tanca), Nám. Slobody 3 (map G5)

9.Church of the Holy Cross

(Kostol sv.Kríža), Nám.Š. Moyzesa (map D4)

10.Church of the Virgin Mary

(Kostol Nanebovzatia Panny Márie), Nám Š. Moyzesa (map D4)

11.Matthias House

(Matejov dom), Nám Š. Moyzesa 20 (map D4)

12.Museum of the Slovak National Uprising

(Múzeum SNP), Kapitulská 23 (map E5)

13.Puppet Theatre

(Bábkové divadlo na Rázcestí), Skuteckého 14 (map F3)

14.State Opera Banská Bystrica

(Štátna opera v Banskej Bystrici), Národná 11 (map C7)

15.Thurzo House /Museum of Central Slovakia

(Thurzov dom / Stredoslovenské múzeum), Nám.SNP 4 (map C5)

These articles and related information were published in Spectacular Slovakia 2009, which you can obtain from our online shop.

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