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Mining towns and anti-Turkish fortifications of towns, castles and manor houses

Cervany kamen  stianvica

Important mining towns with precious metal wealth and the border of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, which for hundred and fifty years ran through the half of the Kingdom of Hungary, were the prominent topics of interest for Europe of the 16th and 17th centurie. Even today they belong to the greatest sights of the historical and cultural heritage on the territory of the current Slovakia.

Sightseeing tour


The Battle of Mohács in 1526, in which the Turks defeated the Hungarian aristocratic, clerical and military elite, had fatal consequences on the development in this part of Europe. By 1524, the Turks had occupied the entire lower part of the Kingdom of Hungary up to the river Danube. Thereafter, the Kingdom of Hungary existed for one and a half centuries only on the territory of the current Slovakia and Transylvania. The fortifications on this new border were the focus of attention of the whole Christian Europe. They served primarily for the immediate defence of the mining towns, because it was them with their wealth and importance, which were the next target of the Turkish expansion. A political target was the conquest of Vienna. Thanks to these fortifications, but also at the cost of a huge number of victims neither Vienna, nor the mining towns were conquered by Turks in the end.

Of course, the legendary mining towns had been known long before that. Traces of ore exploitation go back to pre-historical times, with the precursors of these towns in medieval times being gords (hradisko). After the medieval state had been consolidated, the mineral wealth was the property of the king. However, the development of its mining was provided only by invited “guests” – mining specialists and metallurgists, who were also responsible for the donation of shares to the privileged and initiative persons, monasteries and towns. There were strict rules governing here and the king was represented by the Chamber count appointed by the king himself. Administrative measures, coinage, privileges, regulations, as well as the capital of the patricians, “waldbürger“ (“mining guilds”), their shares, all of this ultimately affected the economic functioning of the state. Churches, as well as townhouses of the mining towns housed valuable artworks. In the 15th century, 60 % of European silver, 40 % of European gold and most of European copper was mined in the territory of the current Slovakia. After 1490 Thurzo invited Fuggers from Augsburg with their financial capital to come to this area.

Thus, after the Turks had occupied the southern parts of the country, the town churches, monasteries and the walls were being rebuilt into fortifications in mining towns and their surroundings. Originally medieval castles were equipped with modern fortifications, consisting of cannon bulwarks, bastions and barbicans situated outside the main line of defences.

Available deposits were gradually exhausted, but new inventions and investments into technologies brought about a new boom even after the year 1700 lasting for almost two centuries. The very important iron also supplemented the precious metals. During our tour we will learn about the great personalities of technology who worked here; about the oldest technical university, about the constructions that have made up the image of this unique type of cultural landscape until today. The mining operations in these ancient towns have been stopped. They represent the treasures of material cultural heritage and the still continuing mining traditions.


Big KR BBS4 map

Thursday: Meeting in Vienna, railway station Meindling Bahnhof, at 6:30. Transfer to Nitra. In the city of Nitra, originally an ancient seat of Slavic princes (8th and 9th centuries) and an important Episcopal seat, we will visit the Bishop’s Castle, which was occupied by the Turks for some time in 1663. Therefore, based on the initiative of the Habsburg royal court, the castle was equipped with even more massive fortifications, which have been preserved to this day.Then we will make a short stop in the monastery complex of Hronský Beňadik. This originally Benedictine abbey was radically rebuilt into an anti-Turkish fortress. In the old town hall of the city Nová Baňa we will see the mining exposition. It was here, where for the first time in the continental Europe (1721) the “fire engine” of the builder Isaac Potter for water pumping was constructed.

Friday: In Banská Štiavnica we will begin with the tour around the fortress Nový zámok (New Castle) with an exposition of the battles against the Turks, we will also see the Starý zámok (Old Castle), which is a remarkable construction of a Romanesque to Late Gothic town church, which had to be rebuilt into a fortified castle during the times of Turkish threat. We will then move to Banská Bystrica, where we will visit a precious monument – a parish church in the complex of a town castle. There, we will see a number of artefacts of the highest quality – a unique Late Gothic architecture, altars, stone statues, craftworks and Baroque artworks. We will see very interesting museum expositions. Then we will visit the legendary village of Špania Dolina.

Saturday: In the morning we will arrive in the “golden” town of Kremnica. The complex of the town castle here contains several notable buildings, which show signs of belonging to the architectural style of the Danube region (the ossuary), of Vienna (the nave vault of the church) and, finally, of Swabia (the presbytery vault). We will see unusual types of Late Gothic townhouses and peer into the exposition of the oldest functioning mint in Europe. In the afternoon we will return to Banská Štiavnica through the site of Bzovík (a Premonstrate abbey rebuilt into a fortress against the Turks) and we will see other sights of this remarkable town.

Sunday: We will visit the Open-Air Mining Museum Banská Štiavnica, where we will see underground shafts and tunnels, as well as exhibits illustrating the development of mining. On the way through the mining village Štiavnické Bane we will see further mining works, as well as the famous water system. In the originally mining town of Pukanec we will see the Gothic parish church, the architecture of which is related to Banská Štiavnica and which has five Gothic wing altars in its interior. Approaching the starting point of our tour we will visit the fortified castle Červený Kameň (Biebersburg) in a typical wine-growing area. The building of its fortification system was ordered by the Fugger family after 1535 to protect their transports of copper based on the sketches of Albrecht Dürer. Return to Vienna in night hours.

Service package:

The price of the tour covers:

  • A qualified guiding serviceň
  • Expert guiding by a renowned art-historian
  • Travel from Vienna, around Slovakia and back to Vienna in a comfortable bus.
  • 3x accommodation in double and single rooms in three/four star hotels and guesthouses
  • Full board in carefully selected stylish restaurants - 3x breakfast, 4x lunch, 4x dinner
  • Entrance fees (except Group tours and VIP tours)

The price of the tour does not include the following:

  • drinks
  • voluntary contributions
  • insurance
  • charges for taking pictures in museums and monuments
  • individual transportation from the residence to the point of departure (except Group tours and VIP tours)

Tour price

The price for the tour KR BBS4 is 495 Euro per person in double room,
Extra charge for a single room is 68 Euro.
For tours of the type Group tours and VIP tours the price is calculated individually


Dates for groups – by appointment

Dates for VIP – by appointment

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