The inseparable dominant feature of former free royal town of Banská Štiavnica, which rises high above the historical centre of the town, arose with the Renaissance reconstruction of the original, later fortified Roman three-aisle basilica of Virgin Mary from the first quarter of the 13th century. During 1546 – 1559 the parish church underwent reconstruction within Gothic modernization and changed into a central anti-Turks fortress. Such modernization completely changed its nature. The vault in the main church aisle was removed and a courtyard was built. Former wing aisles were filled with floors and rooms could now be accessed from the courtyard also through balconies. Perimeter walls were strengthened which visually concealed the Gothic supporting structure. Cannon loopholes were built on the last floor and all four corners were extended by characteristic observation towers. The western tower was lowered and its height was united with the height of other structural parts. Numerous portals and wall paintings in the hall of knights document a Renaissance-style reconstruction. The last major structural modification took place at the beginning of the 20th century when the deteriorating fortress changed into a museum. The unique structure serves this purpose until now. A part of the site fortification is the ossuary of St. Michael – a two-floor funeral chapel on the ground floor, decorated with figurative painting, enriched with ornamental wall paintings from the 2nd half of the 15th century. The most important bastion of the fortress with inner wooden allures is the southern square four-floor Gothic tower called Himmelreich. It was used as a prison. Today’s entrance to the site leads visitors through a narrow pedestrian gate at the original four-floor entrance tower which got its Baroque top cover in 1777. The entire area is a part of Slovak National Museum exhibition and its architecture is a unique presentation of architectural styles and radical changes of building purposes.
Heritage > National cultural monuments