DUSTY TOWN HOME TO A RICH COLLECTION OF ANCIENT CHURCHES

Rožňava: Historic central core is all that captivates

On the cusp of Slovakia's southern frontier, Rožňava lies in what was once a mining region rich in gold, iron and copper, where Renaissance carpetbaggers built fortunes by pitting German know-how and Slovak labor against the landscape in a quest for ore.
Today, the sun-cracked hills of the Slovenské Rudohorie bear the scourge of less lucrative but not less stubborn strip-mining, and the area is covered with a calcimine rime of chalky dust. Romanies and ethnic Hungarians comprise a high percentage of the region's population, with kiosk and street signs in Hungarian as often as in Slovak.
Legend has it that a rugged outdoorsman first discovered the area while hiking. Deciding to rest, he accidentally fell asleep and dreamt of gold. When he awoke, he began digging until, sure enough, gold was indeed discovered. He placed three roses as a symbol to mark the area. The town of Rožňava, meaning Roses, stands on that very spot.


A tale of three roses. A legendary outdoorsman who found gold, placed three roses to mark his discovery on what is today's Rožňava.
Rožňava Town Hall

On the cusp of Slovakia's southern frontier, Rožňava lies in what was once a mining region rich in gold, iron and copper, where Renaissance carpetbaggers built fortunes by pitting German know-how and Slovak labor against the landscape in a quest for ore.

Today, the sun-cracked hills of the Slovenské Rudohorie bear the scourge of less lucrative but not less stubborn strip-mining, and the area is covered with a calcimine rime of chalky dust. Romanies and ethnic Hungarians comprise a high percentage of the region's population, with kiosk and street signs in Hungarian as often as in Slovak.

Legend has it that a rugged outdoorsman first discovered the area while hiking. Deciding to rest, he accidentally fell asleep and dreamt of gold. When he awoke, he began digging until, sure enough, gold was indeed discovered. He placed three roses as a symbol to mark the area. The town of Rožňava, meaning Roses, stands on that very spot.

A tour of the Mining Museum features classic photographs and old mining methods which relive the past. The watchtower which looms over the town square was once said to have the most accurate time throughout the land. People would travel from all over to set their watches according to the clock. Located directly in front of the watchtower is a chalky white statuette featuring Franziska Andrássy, a heroine and role-model for all women. It was erected in 1905 as a monument to her efforts to help the poor.

In 1775, Rožňava became the seat of the diocese, and the development of various churches around the square flourished.

Five churches encompass the surrounding area in an unique way. The Cathedral of the Ascension of Mary holds a rare altar portrait called Metercia dating back to 1513. A walk through the Jesuit church features sculptured statues of Moses and King David. In front of the Episcopal Palace is a memorial tablet and statue commemorating the terrible plague which hit the area in 1710.

Unfortunately, Rožňava's historical beauty dissipates beyond the central core; the town, however, serves as a convenient base for trips to Krásna Hôrka castle, the Gombasek, Domica, Ochtina and Dobšiná caves, and the Betliar chateau.

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