THE HISTORY of Považská Bystrica is closely connected to that of the nearby Považie Castle, known in the past under the name of Bystrica. It was more or less thanks to this fortification that the town developed. The most famous owners of the castle were the Podmanickýs, a family of notorious brigands. According to historians, they were neither more nor less immoral than their contemporaries; the only difference was their power.
In those times of a growing Turkish threat, the presence of Podmanickýs in the town was a blessing and a curse at the same time. Ján Komanický, for example, built a church there, supported the local school and bestowed the town with the so-called Articuli Podmanickyani, or a set of town privileges. This document mentions that guilds in Považská Bystrica used Slovak as their official language as early as the 15th century.
On the other hand, the noble feudal lords could very easily embitter the life of anyone they pleased, as the town was completely at their mercy. Later, the castle became less important and since the end of the 18th century, only its ruins have remained.
The only thing its inhabitants feared then was the River Váh, whose unregulated waters constantly threatened the town after heavy rains and snow thaws. This postcard shows Považská Bystrica as it looked in the period immediately preceding World War II.