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Photographer's Note

The early history of Banská Bystrica (Besztercebánya)is connected with the exploitation of abundant deposits of copper (and to a lesser extent of silver, gold, and iron). The tools used by prehistoric miners in a locality called Špania Dolina are dated as early as 2000-1700 BC.

In 1255, King Béla IV of Hungary granted Banská Bystrica extensive municipal privileges in order to attract skilled settlers from the Holy Roman Empire. The town, called Neusohl by these Carpathian Germans, flourished as a regional mining center. In the second half of the 13th century, a remarkable Romanesque church was built in the town. In 1494, the company Ungarischer Handel ("Hungarian Trade" in German), was founded by the affluent Fugger and Thurzo families. Depending mainly on the mines around Banská Bystrica, the company became the leading world producer of copper by the 16th century.

The Ottoman Empire's northern advance led the magistrate to fortify the town with modern stone walls in 1589. Banská Bystrica was one of the foremost centers of the Protestant Reformation in Slovakia and the town had to fight for its rights against the ruling dynasty of Catholic Austrian Habsburgs, as well as against the Ottoman Turks and powerful Hungarian magnates. In 1620 Prince Gabriel Bethlen of Transylvania, a Protestant, was elected King of Hungary at the Diet in Banská Bystrica.

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Additional Photos by George Rumpler (Budapestman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 8900 W: 3 N: 20435] (82620)
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