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by Wildcat Dianne
November 5, 2003
The town fortifications are simple brick and stone defenses that date from the original construction in the 14th century. In the 16th century, the stone walls proper were built along with the gatehouses and Silver Gate located north of the square. Banska Bystrica was build irregularly and frequent reconstruction was needed through the 16th-18th centuries, and the southern walls were doubled in 1590.
Unfortunately during the 19th and 20th centuries, most of the town fortifications were demolished for new buildings and only two portions of the original fortifications remain at the southeast part of town, the Masiarska (Butcher) Bastion, and in the north, the Cizmarska (Bootmakers) Bastion.
It is well worth your time to take a good walk after lunch to see the new Banska Bystrica cleverly blended in with the old town fortifications.
From journal Banska Bystrica: The Heart of the Slovak National Uprising.
Ivan and I were finally able to visit this object of my affection in May 2002 during my second visit to Slovakia, and I wasn't disappointed.
The Matthias Dom was once the seat of the Royal Administrator of Banska Bystrica, but it is not sure if it was built as part of or separate from the town fortifications. When it was built in 1479, it was also said to be part of the Miner's Bastion. In addition to the five stories, the Matthias Dom has a high-pitched gable that goes over the town wall. King Matthia's, the buildings namesake, coat of arms is located on the south side.
Next to the Matthias Dom is the Catholic Church of the Holy Cross. It was built in 1492 and not 1452 like the plaque over the arch on the main entrance says and is attached to the Matthias Dom. In the 17th Century, The Church of the Holy Cross was occupied by the Evangelicals, who modified the interior. The Jesuits took over the church in the mid-18th century and remodeled the exterior in the Baroque style. In 1782, The Church of the Holy Cross was destroyed by fire, and its interior was rebuilt in the 19th Century.
When I returned to Borovce, where I was staying, I made a drawing of the Matthias Dom in my sketch book, but I only drew 4 floors instead of 5. WHOOPS! But I am proud of how the drawing turned out and I am including it in my photos with this journal.
My friend Ivan and I spent most of our visit May 2002 visit to Banska Bystrica touring The Town Castle Area and its fortifications. These are a few of the highlights.
1. The Castle. Banska Bystrica's Castle is actually a series of buildings situated around the central district church and dates from the 15th Century. Unfortunately in 1948, three-quarters of the castle walls and its bastion were destroyed to build Banska Bystrica's new post office.
2. The Romanesque Church of the Virgin Mary dates from 1255 and is the oldest building in the town. It has gone under several additions and rennovations in the past 750 years and has suffered much decay and neglect. One of its statues has been lovingly restored to its original state and can be seen by tourists through a plexiglass window that was installed to protect it from vandalism.
3. The Church of St. Francis Xavier was built from 1615-1729 dominates Namestie SNP. It was built originally in the Baroque style but was later remodeled into the classical style of architecture. The twin towers were added in 1844. Mass was being held at the time of our visit, but we watched some of the mass through the door. Its interiors date from the 19th Century and has an Empire Main Altar. The Church of St. Francis Xavier went under major renovations in the 20th Century.
The two other popular sights in the Town Castle Area are Matthias Dom (House) and the Town Fortifications. They deserve there own separate entries.