Concert in Banska Bystrica

Banska Bystrica Travel Blog

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I headed north from Bojnice and into the twisties of the mountains. There were many motorcycles out enjoying the twisties as well. The scenery was dramatic. One moment it was cliffside motoring and the next fields and rolling hills…..both my favs.

Out in the middle of nowhere, which is pretty much everywhere I was driving on this day, or even more “nowhere” than usual, I had to stop at the breathtaking sight of a colorful meadow and the mountains in the distance. These views are one of the reasons I came. I had to stop and take it in.

I entered a village with almost symbols painted on the houses…….I must be in Cicmany.

I read about this place and had to come. Unlike some of the other outdoor museums that are made of houses brought together from different places, this is a village as it is. These are people’s houses and businesses. It’s real life. Cicmany is an amazing place to enjoy design and culture. It’s not there for tourists, it’s just their history and it’s wonderful.

The houses are all dark stained wood and have Slovak craftsy looking design elements painted all over them. It’s such a visual treat.

Situated in the Strazovske Vrchy Mountains, Cicmany was settles in the 15th century by the Bulgarians who fled the Turkish invasion. They came to the region and started decorating their houses with Balkan-style folk motifs. The dark wooden walls were painted with white designs” abstract geometric shapes, crosses, hearts, squiggles, and swirls.

The embellishments were not only decorative but, useful as well. The white paint is a lime varnish applied to protect the wood from natural decay. The designs are inspired by patterns embroidered into local folk costumes.

One of the houses is set up as a shop for tourists. They offer art and crafts made by locals. The goods are unique to the region and are of good quality at good prices. The prices are cheaper than Bratislava but, this is a long way from the big city. I found many things to capture my interest. The best of which is a mug that I had not purchased in Bratislava due to it’s steep price…..well, they had one (not the same as all are unique) that was amazing and 1/3 of the price! That’s my treat for Rob.

He will love it. The shop did also have a little wooden house (really made of wood) that was painted with the style of a specific house in the town. They had several to choose from so you could pic your fav house and take home a souvenir…nice!

Time to be heading on to Banska Bystrica and check in to my next hotel (penzion). The only problem is that now I didn’t have enough gas to get there. I will make this long story short. I used the GPS and ended up at a closed gas station. I had passed police earlier and returned to find them…..and asked for help. They told me which was the best way to go to find an open station and it was on my way. Thanks to the Slovak police…..I didn’t run out of gas.

I reached Banska Bystrica, more mountainy than I expected, and went in search of my hotel.

As now has become the case (so far) in Slovakia, when the address is given….it’s usually a bit off. This was the case in Bratislava and here as well. A kind gentleman (who spoke English) assisted me once I had reached where the hotel should be…but wasn’t. It was just down the road but…..I didn’t know that. He also proceeded to give me his review of the place……I thought a bit odd. He was friendly and helpful and even wished me a nice stay in Banska Bystrica.

I checked in and had the attic space with a fantastic view of town center out of the skylight windows. The room was rustic and filled with Slovak treasures to adore. With the windows open I could hear a concert in progress in the town square. I went in search.

The city of Banská Bystrica is the most important historical, cultural and economic centre of the central Slovakia (Slovak Republic).

It is a seat of administration of the Banská Bystrica Region, one of the 8 regions of the Slovak Republic. Banská Bystrica is situated at the river Hron in the Zvolenská Lowland, close to the Kremnické Vrchy (Kremnické Mountains), Veľká Fatra (Big Fatra) and the Nízke Tatry (Low Tatras).

The first written reference about the city is from the year 1255, when it was inhabited by German colonists that settled down in this region. The city succeeded in getting a lot of royal privileges and from the 13-th century it had its own coat-of-arms.

After 1380 Banská Bystrica became a leader in a union of mining towns. At the beginning, gold and silver were mined here, but from the 14-th century it was especially copper, quicksilver and lead. After economic decline in the 15-th century the Thurzo-Fugger Company renewed the mining industry and exported copper to the Western European market.

In the 16-th century crafts and trade activities gained on importance. The first manufactures arose in the 18-th century. In the second half of the 19-th century they transformed into industrial factories that produced textile, blueprint, manufactured wood, cereals, beer and spirit. A very important development factor for the city was building a railway Zvolen - Banská Bystrica in 1873 and its enlargement to Podbrezová town in 1884.

The town square is a very large pedestrian area that was once their market and center of daily life….much as it is today. The buildings that line this area are many hundreds to almost one thousand years old. There is mix of differing details that unite to show where they have been and it’s a colorful past.

It turns out that they were having a sort of American Idol-esque contest.

The three acts that I stayed around for were very good. The locals have talent that was for sure. I was quite surprised by “G Strings”, a girl trio in gold hot pants and silver sequins singing and playing their violins…..they were great….really great They played their own special version of “Billie Jean” that was a creative tribute to Michael, himself.

I strolled around town and enjoyed the amazing Baroque / Habsburg details of this ancient yet happening scene. There is so much to like here.

I climbed back to my perch and continued to enjoy the concert. After it was over, the clock tower played a different tune at 9pm, 10pm, and 11pm. The 11 pm tune was the bugle - military like time to go to sleep thing.

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Banska Bystrica
photo by: DADKA