Banská Bystrica – town castle


   The town castle in Banská Bystrica was erected in 1479-1512, when a group of the most important municipal buildings was surrounded by stone walls. Masonry fortifications replaced the earlier, timber and earth ones from the 14th century. In 1510, the entrance gate was expanded to the form of a barbican, and around the mid-16th century fortifications were strengthened in relation with the Turkish threat (among others, the moat was deepened and widened, porches on the defensive walls were modernized to use small handguns). Despite the reconstruction of individual buildings included in the town’s castle in the seventeenth century, its layout did not change until 1761, when the town was consumed by a fire. Both churches and their valuable interior burned. The castle walls were also destroyed, and after the fire were mostly dismantled. As the last one, the Mill Tower was pulled down in 1947.


   The castle was situated in the northern part of Banská Bystrica, within its fortifications, however, ensuring independence from both external enemies and townspeople with a full defensive circuit. The entire complex was located at the fork of the Hron River and its backwaters, which provided protection on the southern side, and the Bystrica River flowing into it, adjacent to the town fortifications on the western side. The layout of the stone city walls (built only in the 16th century in place of the earlier wooden ones) was irregular, running along short, straight curtains with many bends, with the castle placed in the corner of one of such bends, so that its only side facing outwards was flanked by two curtains of the city wall.
   Within the castle, in its central part, there was a gothic church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and in the southern part of the fortifications, the town hall was erected in 1500It was partly extended beyond the fortifications circuit and could have defensive functions.
A four-story tenement house, called the Matthias House from the name of king Matthias Corvinus, was incorporated into the northern wall. It was basically a late gothic four-sided tower house, crowned with battlement. A cylindrical body of the staircase connected to the Banska Tower stood out from its northern part. A chapel was also added to the northern wall, later rebuilt in the church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, which was connected with a tenement house standing next to it.
The walls were reinforced with four towers: Parish Tower, Miners Tower, Writers Tower and Mill Tower (Mühlstein). The entrance to the castle was led by a barbican with a tower in the south-western part of the circuit. It had a large gate for carts and a smaller gate for pedestrians and a drawbridge that was flipped over an artificially dug moat. Apart from the circumference of the fortification, on the eastern side, there was a quadrangle Tower of Andrew (Ondrejov Basta), but it is not known whether it was dismantled during the construction of the castle or whether it served as warning or defense function with it.

Current state

   Among the original buildings, the northern fragment of the fortifications with three towers: Parish, Miners and Writers, the barbican with the tower, the gothic parish church, the rebuilt church of Holy Cross and the so-called Matthias House and rebuilt old town hall – Preatorium, have survived to this day. The barbican, renovated after 2005, now houses the administrative rooms, cafe and restaurant. It is not possible to enter the interior of the towers.

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