THE MINING town of Handlová was founded in 1376, and in the same year construction of the Roman Catholic Church of St Catherine began. The ancient church still stands here, although in a slightly modified form following several reconstructions. It survived fires and raids by Crimean Tatars, but always managed to recover and today has one of the most beautiful church cupolas in Slovakia.

The first known settler in Handlová was Peter Kricker from Kremnica, who came here together with 200 others to establish a settlement on a site called Krásny les (Beautiful Forest).

At first the settlers lived just from crops and pastoral farming. Only much later, in the 18th century, did coal mining begin. Local miners at first worked mainly to supply the needs of nearby Bojnice Castle.

In 1945, Handlová underwent the biggest upheaval in its centuries-long history. Most of its German inhabitants had to leave the town due to the so-called Beneš decrees. Of the original 12,800 people who lived here as late as in 1943, only 4,000 remained in Handlová by 1945. As a result, Handlová’s character changed completely. In this postcard from shortly after WWII we see Handlová’s church in a print of a painting by the Czech artist Holoubek.