Banská Bystrica Castle

Banská Bystrica, Slovakia

The Banská Bystrica town castle was once formed by several ancient buildings. Its task was to protect the income proceedings of copper and silver mining for the royal treasury.

The town castle was built gradually. The parish church was built as the first structure in the 13th century and fortifications were added to it in the 15th century. Earth ramparts and palisades were later replaced by tall stone walls fortified by bastions and a water dike. In the 16th century, the Turkish threat called for further fortifications. Only a quarter of the original town walls and three bastions - Farská (Parish), Banícka (Mining), and Pisárska (Scriveners) - of the original four have survived.

The castle's surrounding area includes not only a parish church and fortifications, but also the Church of the Holy Cross - Slovak Church, which was built in 1452, as well as a barbican with a tower. It used to be the entry gate to the castle. The barbican acquired its present Baroque facade after fire in 1761. Between 2005-2006 the barbican was restored again.

The castle also features Matej's House (Matejov dom), which was built in the 15th century in the late Gothic style, and the Old Town Hall - Praetorium which, for its part, was originally designed in the Gothic style, but later was reshaped into a Renaissance building. The latter is currently home to the Central Slovakia Gallerywhich holds graphic biennials plus a variety of temporary exhibitions on a regular basis.

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Founded: 13th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Slovakia

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Silvia Orešanská (3 years ago)
Vela sa z neho nezachovalo aj vdaka byvalemu rezimu ale to co zostalo je krasne
Martin Schwarz (3 years ago)
Really nice area and the Klubovna restaurant and pub in barbican is the best
audrey dunne (4 years ago)
Beautiful castle in the gorgeous town of Banska Bystrica! Pedestrianised centre with plenty of restaurant and bar options. Beautiful town square with preserved churches, original facades and clock tower. Wonderful relaxed atmosphere. We ate a delicious meal in the restaurant under the castle. Excellent service and the food was delicious!
Creative One (5 years ago)
Very nice place with a beautiful church and few remnants of a historical castle. It's good to enjoy the local atmosphere and just walk around.
Jiří Dvořák (6 years ago)
This is very nice walking over there.Really recommend you to go there and watch
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Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

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The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.