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Old Castle is one of Banská Štiavnica’s main features

AS EARLY AS the Austro-Hungarian period, Pavol Socháň, a legendary photographer and publisher, was publishing postcards with Slovak inscriptions, which made him famous throughout the country.

AS EARLY AS the Austro-Hungarian period, Pavol Socháň, a legendary photographer and publisher, was publishing postcards with Slovak inscriptions, which made him famous throughout the country.

This is one of his beautifully coloured postcards. It depicts the Old Castle in Banská Štiavnica.

This complex of buildings above the town was originally occupied by a royal officer who managed mining operations and collected shares of mining proceeds on behalf of the sovereign. So it needed the strong fortifications shown.

The square bastion on the left was called “Himmelreich” (The Heavenly Kingdom), but its real purpose was a far cry from being heavenly, as it contained a prison, a torture chamber and the executioner’s den.

From 1546 to 1559, the church was gradually converted into a fortress and the access to Štiavnica was limited by three town gates to prevent the Turks from seizing this exceptionally rich town. And it worked, as they never did capture it, despite their best attempts.

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