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.

Nová Baňa

By James Thomson

    Nová Baňa is surrounded by wooded hills.
 Nová Baňa is surrounded by wooded hills.
 Photos by James Thomson

Nová Baňa, another former mining town, is a fairly unlikely tourist destination at first blush. But on closer inspection, the town and the surrounding hills have quite a lot to offer. A visit to Nová Baňa's museum reveals that the town was once at the cutting edge of the industrial revolution.

The first record of mining in the town dates from 1337. It declined to almost nothing by the 1600s, as the easily accessible seams were mined out. But technology changed things in the eighteenth century. Continental Europe's first industrial steam engine, designed by British engineer Isaac Potter, was built here in 1722. It solved the problem of how to drain the deep shafts and the industry underwent a renaissance.

There is a model of Potter's 'fire engine' in the museum, along with a range of other interesting exhibits, many labelled in English. Among them are archaeological finds including a ceramic jug from the 5th century 'mass migration', during which Slavs are first believed to have arrived in Europe, and so-called miner's art created by the German settlers who were crucial to the mining industry.

Old mine entrances are dotted around the town; the tourist information office can point them out. They can also direct you to some nice walks, including one to a waterfall, in the steep valleys surrounding the town.

One of Slovakia's best motorcamps is at Tajch lake on the outskirts of the town. There are also many holiday rentals in the surrounding countryside.

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

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