Banska Stiavnica: an undiscovered UNESCO town in Slovakia

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If you plan your trip to Slovakia, Banska Stiavnica probably is not on your list – but it should be! Banska Stiavnica is perhaps a place you’ve never heard about, but don’t let that fool you. This idyllic town has something unique that sets it apart from the other Slovak cities.

This UNESCO-listed town with narrow romantic streets and medieval spirit is, in fact, one of the most beautiful places in Slovakia. In fact, Banska Stiavnica is proud of its rich heritage, culture, and nature.

Banska Stiavnica unesco

The locals refer to Banska Stiavnica as Stiavnica. 


Why is Banska Stiavnica so special?

Maybe you do not know it, but millions of years ago, this area was the highest volcano in Central Europe. It was more than a massive volcano, though. The volcano’s eruption predetermined the destiny of this region.

banska stiavnica things to do

Stiavnica sits in the middle of a caldera.

 

Banska Stiavnica is famous because this town was Europe’s El Dorado for several centuries. Many referred to it as the Silver Town because this area had the richest deposits of silver and gold. Because of that, Banska Stiavnica was one of the richest cities in medieval Europe.

You are quite right to think that the rich veins of treasures hidden beneath the Banska Stiavnica’s surface paid for the opulent palaces built in Budapest and Vienna.

UNESCO Banska Stiavnica - one of the most beautiful places in Slovakia

Many years ago, Banska Stiavnica was one of the wealthiest towns in the Habsburg Monarchy. It is because Banska Stiavnica was the biggest mining centre in the empire

 

Is Banska Stiavnica worth visiting?

Why is Banska Stiavnica worth visiting? Because Banska Stiavnica has a rich history because it is one of the oldest mining towns in Slovakia. It also has a beautifully preserved old town that UNESCO put on its list. Banska Stiavnica is also an excellent day trip from Bratislava.

Believe it or not, Banska Stiavnica attracts especially the Slovaks and Czechs. It is a mecca for romantics and a popular place for a weekend getaway. Many visit this charming town for its breathtaking views and stunning countryside

unesco Banska Stiavnica

It is easy to see what draws thousands of visitors to the city.

 

How to get to Banska Stiavnica from Bratislava

 

Banska Stiavnica lies about 2 hours drive from Bratislava (the capital). It is hard to believe, but Banska Stiavnica does not have a direct connection with Bratislava. However, several trains run to Zvolen (a town in central Slovakia). Zvolen has connections with Bratislava, Prague, Budapest and other Slovak towns. If driving by car, get ready for steep ascents along narrow roads.

Banska Stiavnica attractions. Banska Stiavnica unesco

 

When is the best time to visit Banska Stiavnica?

The best time to visit Banska Stiavnica is between May and September because the days are longer, and the weather is more pleasant. During the summer, you can swim in the tajchs, and museums are open almost every day.

Banska Stiavnica what to do

 

The Best things to do in Banska Stiavnica

If you are planning to come here and wonder what the best things to do in Banska Stiavnica are, then you are in the right place. Here are just a few reasons why Stiavnica should be on your itinerary.

 

1. The Old Town Centre, Banska Stiavnica

Did you know that the town centre of Banska Stiavnica is a UNESCO World Heritage Site? Strolling through Trotuar is one of the best things to do in Banska Stiavnica because this beautiful street is one of the symbols of this town.

Trotuar. Stiavnica’s picture-perfect town centre is a UNESCO heritage site.

 

After arriving in Stiavnica, head to the town centre and explore its secrets. Step out into the streets of the well-preserved town centre and be amazed by its charming architecture. 

Did you know that the town centre of Banska Stiavnica is a UNESCO World Heritage Site? The beating heart of Stiavnica has it all: colourful pastel housesthe cutest little shops, inter-linked romantic streets and even magnificent monuments.

One of the first attractions most people head to in Banska Stiavnica is the promenade Trotuar, and there is a reason for that. The Promenade Trotuar is the main street in the town, and you should not miss it when exploring Stiavnica. 

Maybe you do not know it, but Trotuar is the most beautiful street in Banska Stiavnica. This vibrant street, with middle-class houses, is home to the best cafes, unique restaurants with terraces, and authentic souvenir shops. Strolling through Trotuar is one of the best things to do in Banska Stiavnica because this beautiful street is one of the symbols of this town.

 

2. The Holy Trinity Square (Trojicne namestie) in Banska Stiavnica

The Holy Trinity Square, with the dominant plague column, is lined with palaces which belonged to wealthy miners. This iconic baroque column is also a popular starting point for tours in the town.

The Holy Trinity Square, with the dominant plague column, is lined with palaces which belonged to wealthy miners.

 

You cannot take a trip to Banska Stiavnica without a visit to the Holy Trinity Square. The Holy Trinity Square is the centre of the town with the Renaissance-Baroque palaces. The first thing you notice about the square is its plague column with the Holy Trinity sculpture. This iconic baroque column is also a popular starting point for tours in Banska Stiavnica. This famous square is also home to the Church of St Catherine. You can also find the mineralogical exhibition in one of the palaces. 

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

For the best experience, get a knowledgeable tour guide and explore Stiavnica. You can find a tourist information centre here.

 

3. Marina’s House in Banska Stiavnica

Banska Stiavnica things to do: Exploring Marina's House is one of the best things to do in Banska Stiavnica because it is one of the most popular attractions for lovers. It is because Banska Stiavnica is the home of the famous star-crossed lovers in Slovakia: Slovakia's Romeo and Juliet. Marina's House is where the poet’s muse lived before she married somebody else.

Afterwards, visit Marina’s House, which you can find only a short walk from here. Probably you do not know, but Banska Stiavnica is home to Sladkovic’s legendary love story Marina.

 

But first, who was Andrej Sladkovic, and why is the poem Marina famous?

 

Andrej Sladkovic was a Slovak poet who lived in the 19th century. He is famous for his epic poem Marina. Marina is a masterpiece of Slovak literature and has become an important part of Slovak cultural heritage.

 

Is Marina’s House in Banska Stiavnica worth visiting?

Couples in love come to Stiavnica to padlock their lock of love on the iron bars of Marina's house.

Exploring the Marina House is one of the best things to do in Banska Stiavnica because it is one of the most popular attractions for lovers. Probably you do not know, but Banska Stiavnica is the home of the famous star-crossed lovers in Slovakia: Slovakia’s Romeo and Juliet. However, unlike Romeo and Juliet, their tragic romance is a true story.

A legendary love story of Marina and the poet Andrej Sladkovic still lives in the town today. The poem tells the tragic story of two young lovers from different social classes. 

The love of poor student Andrej Sladkovic and wealthier Marina was, sadly, unfulfilled. Marina’s family was against their love, and the poet’s muse was forced to marry a rich gingerbread maker. After her marriage, Andrej wrote the world’s longest poem. This poem is a Slovak national treasure.

Marina House: A 2900-line love poem Marina is the longest poem and Slovak national treasure. Children memorise some verses from the poem in Slovak schools.

 A 2900-line love poem Marina is the longest poem and Slovak national treasure. Children memorise some verses from this famous poem in Slovak schools.

 

Banska Stiavnica is “a New Verona”

things to do in Banska Stiavnica: Marina's House is a museum dedicated to an exhibition inspired by the love poem Marina. A 2900-line love poem Marina is the longest poem and Slovak national treasure. Because of that visiting Marina's House is one of the best things to do in Banska Stiavnica.

There is another reason to visit Marina’s House in Banska Stiavnica. The 15th-century house where Marina lived the locals and tourists know as the Epicentre of Love. The Epicentre of Love is a museum dedicated to an exhibition inspired by the love poem Marina. Why should you visit the Epicentre of Love if you do not know this poem?

The House of Marina is a unique museum because you can find the Love Banks here. In fact, it is the first safe in the world where couples can store their love. The museum has 100,000 small wooden boxes where lovers can save their love letters and other precious objects. Each box tells a different part of the poem and brings the love poem Marina to life in a memorable way. 

 

FUN FACT:

The House of Marina is home to 100,000 love boxes, one for each letter, gap and punctuation mark of the original manuscript of Marina.

things to do in Banska Stiavnica: Visiting Marina's House is one of the best things to do in Banska Stiavnica because this unique museum is the first safe in the world where couples can store their love. Marina's House has 100,000 small wooden boxes where lovers can save their love letters. Also, each box tells a different part of the poem and brings the love poem Marina to life in a memorable way.

With 100,000 Love boxes, Banska Stiavnica could become a new Verona. 

 

There are many attractions in the House of Marina, such as a love-o-meter (measuring the strength of a couple’s love), or original manuscripts, books and paintings.

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

Location: Radnicne namestie 18

Unfortunately, the House of Marina experienced a significant fire in March 2023. The fire quickly spread and destroyed a big part of the museum (not love boxes). Because of that, it is not possible to visit the House of Marina in 2023.

 

4. Church of St Catherine (Kostol Sv. Katariny)

Banska Stiavnica things to do: Church of St Catherine is a popular tourist attraction in Banska Stiavnica because this late Gothic church has beautiful architecture. You can see the precious painting of the Last Judgment here.

 St Catherine’s Church – the 15th century Roman Catholic Church

 

Every visitor passes by the Church of St Catherine on Banska Stiavnica visit. Take a sneak peek inside the late Gothic church and admire its beautiful architecture. Get your timing right, and you will be able to see the precious painting of the Last Judgment.

 

5. The Old Castle (Stary Zamok) in Banska Stiavnica

We would also recommend checking out the Old Castle, which you can find only a short walk from Trinity Square. Did you know that the Old Castle is one of the oldest buildings in the town? It houses a museum now.

The Old Castle is undoubtedly one of Stiavnica’s most recognizable landmarks.

 

We would also recommend checking out the Old Castle, which you can find only a short walk from Trinity Square. Did you know that the Old Castle is one of the oldest buildings in Banska Stiavnica?

Previously the site of the parish church was due to its strategic location transformed into a fortress. The locals added a defensive wall with a tower. They wanted to protect the town against Turkish attacks. The Old Castle with Baroque features guarded this historic town. As a result, Banska Stiavnica has never been conquered by invaders. Nowadays, the Old Castle houses a museum

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The tower also offers excellent views of the UNESCO Old Town.

OPENING TIMES:

  • May – September: every day 9 am – 5 pm
  • October – April: Monday and Tuesday closed, Wednesday – Sunday 8 am – 4 pm

 

6. New Castle (Novy Zamok) in Banska Stiavnica

Banska Stiavnica: a visit to New Castle is one of the popular things to do in Banska Stiavnica because this symbol of the town is another fortification built to protect the locals against the Turks. The New Castle, with a museum inside, offers magnificent views of the town.

New Castle, built in the 16th century, on Frauenberg Hill.

 

On the opposite hill, you will find the New Castle. It is hard to believe, but this whitewashed Renaissance landmark is not a castle. It is another fortification built to protect the locals against the Turks. 

Today finding the New Castle is one of the best things to do in Banska Stiavnica because it is another symbol of Banska Stiavnica. A fortress with four round towers hosts an exhibition of rare weapons. Moreover, the New Castle in Banska Stiavnica offers stunning views of the historic town.

Maybe you do not know, but the New Castle played an important part during invasions. Mining towns in Slovakia had a sophisticated system protecting them from invaders. The guard on duty used to warn the neighbouring towns of the danger from a watchtower. The signals were passed from hill to hill by fire code signals (during the night) and smoke code signals (during the day).

FUN FACT:

Maybe you do not know, but the New Castle played an important part during invasions. Mining towns in Slovakia had a sophisticated system protecting them from invaders. The guard on duty used to warn the neighbouring towns of the danger from a watchtower. The signals were passed from hill to hill by fire code signals (during the night) and smoke code signals (during the day).

 

OPENING TIMES:

  • May – September: every day 9 am – 5 pm
  • October – April: Monday and Tuesday closed, Wednesday – Sunday 8 pm – 4 pm

 

 

Free Travel Planner for your next holidays to Banska Stiavnica

 

 

7. Knocking Tower Klopačka in Banska Stiavnica

Banska Stiavnica: Tower Klopacka is another tourist attraction in Banska Stiavnica because this tower used to call miners for their morning shift at 2.30 am. Today, the Knocking Tower is home to a cosy tea house.

The Knocking tower called miners for their morning shift at 2.30 am

 

While in the area, don’t forget to check out the charming Knocking tower. The two-storey building with Renaissance and Baroque features called miners for their morning shift. It also gave warnings during special occasions, such as funerals and fires. Today, the Knocking tower is home to a cosy tea house.

 

8. Botanical garden and the Mining Academy 

You are quite right to think that, over the years, Stiavnica became home to important engineers and specialists. That is why Empress Maria Theresa of Austria founded here the Mining Academy. It was the first university institute of its kind in the world. The educational institution trained mining engineers and other specialists, which the mining industry needed in this region.

 The fame of precious metal mining helped medieval Stiavnica to establish the Mining Academy.

 

You are quite right to think that, over the years, Stiavnica became home to important engineers and specialists. That is why Empress Maria Theresa of Austria founded here the Mining Academy. It was the first university institute of its kind in the world. The educational institution trained mining engineers and other specialists, which the mining industry needed in this region. The school was world-famous for its high academic standards. Its graduates were sought after by mining companies around the world.

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Visit the Botanical garden with sequoias and Japanese cedars behind the Academy. The gardens are perfect for those who want to escape the heat of the warm summer days.

 

9. Calvary of Banska Stiavnica

Banska Stiavnica things to do: Did you know that visiting the Calvary is one of the best things to do in Banska Stiavnica? It is because the Calvary in Banska Stiavnica is a National Cultural Monument. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with other historical landmarks in the town.

The Calvary 

  

Many visitors turn back once they explore the historic Old Town, but it would be a mistake. Approximately 40 minutes walking from the town centre will bring you to the Calvary.

Did you know that visiting the Calvary is one of the best things to do in Banska Stiavnica? It is because the Calvary in Banska Stiavnica is a National Cultural Monument. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with other historical landmarks in the town. 

The baroque-styled Calvary is one of the most impressive Baroque Calvaries in Europe. This Calvary is also one of the most significant examples of baroque religious architecture in Slovakia. It consists of 23 chapels and other structures laid out in a pilgrim's way. It is one of the top attractions in the town.

 

The Calvary is a famous religious site that you can find atop Scharfenerg hill. It consists of 23 chapels and other structures laid out in a pilgrim’s way. The Jesuits built it in the 18th century as a place of pilgrimage.

A network of steep paths and staircases connects the chapels, but do not let that put you off. Once at the top, the Calvary offers magnificent views of Stiavnica’s caldera.

The baroque-styled Calvary is undoubtedly one of the most impressive Baroque Calvaries in Europe. This Calvary is also one of the most significant examples of baroque religious architecture in Slovakia.

It has seventeen stations and three churches which symbolize the journey of Christ to his crucifixion. The Calvary, with sculptures and frescoes of important moments of Jesus’s life, attracts tourists and pilgrims alike.

Calvary Banska Stiavnica, UNESCO site

The Calvary at sunset.

 

After the recent reconstruction, the Calvary has become a must-see attraction for every visitor in Banska Stiavnica.

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

The churches and chapels are open daily during the summer months, although the rest of the year is only on weekends. Don’t miss a small exhibition in the Lower Church. It is even possible to arrange a guided tour here.

 

10. Tajchy of Stiavnica

You do not want to leave Banska Stiavnica without visiting “tajchy”. Tajchy are man-made water reservoirs from the 18th century. They used to provide power for the booming mining industry that flourished in the area. Today the locals used tajchy mainly for recreation because they are perfect for cooling down during the hot summer days.

Velka Vodarenska Tajch. Banska Stiavnica, surrounded by unique artificial lakes Tajchy.

  

You do not want to leave Banska Stiavnica without visiting “tajchy”. Tajchy are a series of man-made water reservoirs from the 18th century. They used to provide power for the booming mining industry that flourished in the area at that time.

Today, these artificial water reservoirs are extremely popular among locals and visitors alike. Only twenty-four out of 60 ancient reservoirs remained. The locals used them mainly for recreation because they are perfect for cooling down during the hot summer days.

 

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A 15-minute walk from Holy Trinity Square will bring you to Velka Vodarenska tajch. Velka Vodarenska tajch is the oldest water reservoir. It is famous for its unusual turquoise waters. Afterwards, continue to Cervena Studna reservoir.

 

11. Open-air Mining Museum in Banska Stiavnica (Banske Muzeum v prirode)

If exploring unique attractions in Banska Stiavnica is your thing, make sure you visit the mines in the mountains Štiavnické vrchy. Become a miner (for a while) and see miners used to extract silver from the Slovak Mines. Take a popular informative underground tour and learn how mining changed this region. An Open-air Mining museum lies just a 25-minute walk from the historic centre of Stiavnica.

Banska Stiavnica things to do: Visit a mining museum is one of the best things to do in Banska Stiavnica because you can become a miner for a few hours and experience the conditions in which miners used to work in the past.

Become a miner for a few hours and experience the conditions in which miners had to work in the past.

 

An Open-air Mining Museum is the oldest and biggest mining museum in Slovakia. It consists of 2 parts:

 

  1. surface exposition with unique mining machines
  2. An underground exposition where you can also walk through the underground Bartolomej tunnel

 

GOOD TO KNOW:

  • don’t forget to wear a jacket and also solid shoes
  • you will need to pre-book guided tours in other than the Slovak language
  • Entrance fee (as of January 2023): €14 Adults, € 7 kids (6 -15 years old), €35 family
  • closed during January and February. Visit an Open-air Mining Museum’s website for more information.

 

12. Kammerhof 

If you have a spare hour (or two) while exploring Stiavnica with kids, visit  Kammerhof. Kammerhof is a beautiful Renaissance complex in the centre of Stiavnica. It has various exhibitions where youngsters can learn more about the history of mining in Slovakia. You can also see the working models of machines and laboratory equipment on display.

Kammerhof is a beautiful Renaissance complex in the centre of Stiavnica. It has various exhibitions where youngsters can learn more about the history of mining in Slovakia. You can also see the working models of machines and laboratory equipment on display.

 

13. Hiking and cycling in the Stiavnica mountains

 

If you have any energy left, hiking or cycling the beautiful Stiavnica Mountains countryside is one of the top things to do in Banska Stiavnica. 

The Stiavnica Mountains offer something for everyone: family-friendly rides or more adventurous routes. The popular cycling routes for beginners are Kopanicka osmicka (The Eight of Kopanica) and Hellov okruh (The Circuit of Hell).

 

Now you know what the best places to visit in Banska Stiavnica are!

 

Free Travel Planner for your next holidays to Banska Stiavnica

Have you ever been to Banska Stiavnica in Slovakia before or is it on your bucket list? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments about this beautiful destination.

Banska Stiavnica Unesco. Things to do in Banska Stiavnica.

 

Pin why you need to visit Banska Stiavnica for later!

 

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Last updated: 20/03/2023


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4 thoughts on “Banska Stiavnica: an undiscovered UNESCO town in Slovakia”

  1. I’ve never even heard about Banska Stiavnica, and that’s why I love reading your travel blog. You always introduce your readers to many amazing and lesser-known places worth visiting and exploring. The Calvary caught my eye right away, It would be a perfect place to watch a sunset and sunrise! Ohh, how I miss Europe and its charming old towns. I miss traveling and eating new foods. Hopefully one day we can be back on the road again. Thanks for sharing and inspiring. Have a good weekend. Aiva xxx

  2. Pingback: 27 Spectacular things to do in Slovakia - Travel Done Clever

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