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Špania Dolina

  Špania Dolina HerrengrundŠpania Dolina Herrengrund

Špania Dolina – a small village about 11 km far from Banska Bystrica located in the scenic mountainous area between Great Fatra and Low Tatra. Village, where once iron turned into copper.  Do you not believe that? Maybe also in your city in museum you can find cups, cans, pots from Špania Dolina (Herrengrund) – they are easy to identify – with engraved sayings for example „Eysen Wahr ich, Kupfer bin ich"…(Iron I was, copper I am) or  „Aus eisen Kupfer wird gemacht, zu herrengrundt sehr tiff in Schacht”…(From iron is copper made, in herrengrund very deep in shaft) , „Eisen war ich, Kupfer bin ich, Silber trag ich, Gold bedeckt mich“ (Iron I was, copper I am, silver I wear, gold cover me)…

Example of Herrengrund cup:

Village from which copper and bobbin laces went into the whole world.

Historical events:

German Mining museum in Bochum makes mining archaeological research with aim to prove the prehistoric resource exploitation. Research is held also in Slovakia, in Špania Dolina too. Nowadays is an intensive research due to modern methods such as geoelectric possible. Museum writes “Špania Dolina represents till now the only deposit with proved prehistoric resource exploitation” and “ the example of Špania Dolina let us hope, that not all traces of prehistoric mining have been destroyed”.

Many finds of eneolithic grooved mallets (about 150) provide evidence of exploitation of copper ore already in the Eneolithic. Copper of copper artefacts from 2350 – 1200 BC comes from the region of Carpathian Mountains. Some sources say that first mines were opened in Špania Dolina about year 1006.

Not only Špania Dolina, but also other former copper deposits – Staré Hory, Richtárová, Piesky – give the reason why is the city Banská Bystrica often called as Copper City or why there is in the name of the city “banská” (banska is adjective and means in Slovak language mining).

When the copper ore near the surface was exhausted, deep shaft mines were required. The new created company Ungarischer Handel (eng. Hungarian Trade - founded by Thurzo and Fugger families) has contributed much to development to of copper mining in Špania Dolina. New innovative underground mining methods were implemented – shafts and tunnels with water-powered hoists. The copper ingots from Špania Dolina with stamp Neusohl were exported all over the world. In the period from 15th till 17th century was copper from here one of the most important product in the international markets. In the 16th century also an interesting aqueduct was built here– water necessary for mines in Špania Dolina was fed from foot of pick Prašivá in Low Tatras till Špania Dolina.

After the company Hungarian Trade closed its activity in 1546, mining chamber in Banská Bystrica managed the copper mining. In 17th century was here “cement water” used and in this way “changed the iron to copper”. At the end of 18th century and beginning of 19th century decreased mining in Špania Dolina also because of foreign concurrency. The mines were closed down in 1888.

Places of interest:

Špania Dolina is a picturesque village that strives to preserve its original character. The village is place under a preservation order. If you walk through the village you can see typical houses of miners. Mining nature trail takes you to the places where copper was once won. About mining history, about “miracle” how iron became copper and about the latest you will get detailed information in the small Copper museum, which is administrated by the Fraternity of minors. 

No knock on wooden board comes out more from house, which is called Klopačka (knock tower). Klopačka is the house with tower, from which in the past the minors have been called to work by knocking – heavy oak hammer was beaten on the wooden board. Nowadays it is a guest house, where you can enjoy delicious meal.

Dominant in the village is the Church of the Transfiguration from 13th century. A covered staircase with 162 steps leads to that church – and the surrounding of church looks like a small fortress – also with bastion from 17th century.

Dominant in the village is the Church of the Transfiguration from 13th century. A covered staircase with 162 steps leads to that church – and the surrounding of church looks like a small fortress – also with bastion from 17th century.

Špania Dolina was and is until now famous also with its bobbin laces. This tradition is still alive, knowledge and skills pass from one generation to other. You can see and buy beautiful bobbin laces in the small museum in Klopačka.

The community in the village is very active; every month there is some event – just to mention summer courses for lacemaking or in autumn Josef Langer International Painting and Sculpture Symposium…

Do you wish to know more? Just come. 


Pictures see Impresie - Špania Dolina


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