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In the heart of Slovakia lies a region, encircled by mountain peaks, that has witnessed many fierce battles throughout history. Here you can find fortresses built to defend against Ottoman invaders, and the sites of the skirmishes and heroic resistance that marked the anti-fascist Slovak National Uprising in the autumn of 1944.
The hills and mountains of this region were once rich in precious metals and home to numerous mining towns. For this reason, local centres were dubbed the cities of gold (Kremnica), silver (Banska Stiavnica) and copper (Banska Bystrica). During the Middle Ages the gold mines of Kremnica represented the richest ore seam in Europe, and a mint was established in the town in 1328. Much of the gold has been mined out since then but the mint continues to operate to this day; it now makes Slovakia’s euro coins.
Far above the main road and rail routes, nestling in the mountains south of the Hron Valley, lies the half-forgotten city of Banska Stiavnica. This city, listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, is surrounded by hills riddled with dozens of old mine shafts and tunnels. One of these opens directly into the Museum of Mining located in the town’s main square, and is also open to the public.
Banska Bystrica is the main city in central Slovakia. It has a restored historical square featuring the fine houses of mining magnates. On August 29th 1944 the Slovak National Uprising was declared in the city; this is commemorated in the city’s striking museum dedicated to the uprising.