Spatial Characteristics of the World Heritage Area
The area innscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List includes a wide territory surrounding the town of Banská Štiavnica, located in the centre of the Štiavnica Hills. They are the largest volcanic mountain range containing minerals and rock from all the periods of neovolcanism (andesites, rhyolites, rhyodacites, dacites, whinstones, their tuffs and pyroclastics). Older rock strata from the earlier Paleozoic and Mezozoic time periods appear on the surface in the tectonic window of Hodruša – Vyhne. This area is known as a mecca of minerals with nearly 150 types of them. Gold and silver bearing ores as well as other polymetallic deposits were continually exploited in the district of Banská Štiavnica as early as the 11th century. In 1156 this area was called „terra banensium”, i.e. the territory of miners (in 1217 Bana), and the richness of silver ores gave rise to the name „Argentinofodina” in the 12th and 13th centuries. The prevalent form of the terrain is a cut off fluvial plateau, a highland and upland fork-like relief, stepping down to pediment hilly country. Weathered remains of funnels and mineral veins often stand out as cliffs with stone seas (in Vyhne).
A considerable part of the territory is deforested and changed into plowed fields, orchards, meadows and woody landscape interspersed with the mining works (waste dumps, shafts, probing openings, landfills, pits and reservoirs). As many as 29 species of protected plants and 11 species of protected animals occur in the Protected Landscape Area of the Štiavnica Hills.
There are several archeological finding-places in evidence in the region – the historic core of the Town Monument Reserve, Štiavnické Bane, Glanzenberg, Offenhubel, Terézia Shaft, Horná Roveň, Sitno Hill, ruins of the castle at Sitno – Ilija, as well as national cultural monuments and sites and technical ones.
Description of the archeological localities included on the World Heritage List:
a) The Town Monument Reserve: The archeological researches have been implemented several times in the historic core since 1968, especially in connection with renewal of the important cultural monuments. The finds have documented the settlement of the town connected with mining activities since the end of the 12th century (indirectly since the 11th century). This is proved by the finds of mining tools (instruments, technical ceramics, mining lamps) and production objects (a smelting furnace, mining galleries worked by hand with a hammer and a chisel and only one side vaulted). Following are the specific localities which yielded the archeological information: the Chamber Court at Kammerhofská Street 2 and 3, A. Kmeťa Street 20, Radničné Square 8, Holy Trinity Square 2, Radničné Square 16. The archeological researches also contributed to delineate the oldest urban core of the settlement agglomeration – the future town, preserving the character of the dispersed building structure along the main roads until the 15th-16th centuries and conditioned by the rugged landscape relief.
Now the site of archeological research is the locality of the Dominican monastery complex, very close to the original Romanesque basilica. The research is focused on the genesis of the building which is not clear due to the interruption of the stay of the Dominican Order in Banská Štiavnica because of the Tartar invasion (1241 – 1242, 1275).
b) The protective zone of the Town Monument Reserve – Glanzenberg – the Old Town: The fortified premises with the central tower building (from the 12th century) and protecting the mining district (the veins of Špitaler and Bieber), at the turn of the 13th century rebuilt into an extensive castle. After the demolishing of the castle in the 15th century, production equipment was located there, connected with ore mining on the close Špitaler vein.
c) Štiavnické Bane – Horná Roveň – the area of the Terézia Shaft, traces of technical and settlement objects from the 15th to the 18th centuries
Štiavnické Bane – Tanád – open-surface excavations on the Terézia vein – finds of metallurgical slag.
Štiavnické Bane – Offenhubel – finds of slag proving ore testing right on the mining site.
d) Sitno – archeological locality: The largest and highest situated hill-fort from the late Bronze Age, where settlement took place in the 8th century B.C. This administrative, military and economic power centre was connected with settling of the hilly areas of the central Slovak territory, rich in copper. Archeological finds of stone molds for casting bronze chisels, semi-manufactured goods, slag, as well as deposits of bronze objects in the vicinity suggest the existence of a metallurgical workshop there. The importance of the locality in its changed function was renewed in the middle of the 13th century when there was built the castle to protect the roads leading to the mining district. In the 16th century, the castle served to defend the central Slovak mining towns against the Turkish danger.