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Kremnica: Europe’s golden centre

Located in the heart of Slovakia and almost hidden amid beautiful ranges of surrounding hills, we find the town of Kremnica, aka the golden centre of Europe. Kreminca is so called after its long history in the production of gold - and also because the town is located close to one of Europe’s supposed geographical centres (depending on how you define and measure Europe, of course).

An iron dragon on the castle overlooks the newer part of this former gold-mining town(Source: Yvonne Lootsma)

Located in the heart of Slovakia and almost hidden amid beautiful ranges of surrounding hills, we find the town of Kremnica, aka the golden centre of Europe. Kreminca is so called after its long history in the production of gold - and also because the town is located close to one of Europe’s supposed geographical centres (depending on how you define and measure Europe, of course).

When first arriving to the town, you will be greeted by its main and only shopping street, in which neatly polished and sadly neglected buildings nestle side-by-side. But this gives a slightly false impression, for Kremnica is not just another impoverished small Slovak town. This becomes immediately obvious when you subsequently pass through a thick bastion and into the heart of the old town, where the ancient allure of Kremnica remains alive.

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This article was published in the latest edition of Spectacular Slovakia , which can be obtained from our online shop.
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During the 18th century, the survivors of the plague demonstrated their gratitude and religious dedication by building monuments, or plague columns, which became dominant features of many Slovak towns. Kremnica’s Column of the Holy Trinity is one of the finest examples of Baroque memorials in the country. Accordingly, it is given prime position in the middle of the town’s main square, Štefánikovo Námestie, which also includes a wide grass lawn complemented by trees, a Baroque fountain and several pathways. This mini-park is surrounded by a stylish road with elegant historical houses, which together give the square a uniquely picturesque image.

When the Hungarian king Charles Robert of Anjou stumbled upon the town during a hunting trip in 1328, he was so impressed that he granted Kremnica not only the rights of a free royal town, but also privileges to permit mining and subsequently minting. Thus Kremnica was soon flooded with money, quite literally. The town has been in the business of money-making since the king’s decree.

Matilda Olbrichtová, a tour guide in the town, said that in its glory days Kremnica used to produce up to 700 kilos of gold per year, an amount that would make a respectable swimming pool even for Scrooge McDuck. However, in Kremnica they had other ways of utilising all that gold, gaining great fame and wealth by turning it into cash through large scale coin production, which nowadays remains in use.

There are plenty of possibilities for tourists to get better acquainted with the mines and mints. The National Bank of Slovakia sponsors the Museum of Coins and Medals on the main square, which uses its funding well and provides a comprehensive array of information on the topic (see below). Meanwhile the surrounding villages offer many remains of mining artefacts, such as old shafts and traditional old mining houses. For those who wish to take a closer look into a shaft, the mining museum at Štôlňa Andrej allows visitors to plunge 660 metres underground.

Other attractions in Kremnica include the church and tower, which create the castle complex. Both date from the 13th and 14th centuries, but have been altered, renovated and expanded several times over the years. The fortified church is part of the town fortifications, which were designed to protect the town from the raids of Ottoman invaders during the 14th century.

Apart from this, Kremnica also has a funny side. Towards the end of August the town roars with laughter when international and local comedians entertain the crowd during the annual European festival of humour and satire (Kremnické gagy). Kremnica also houses Slovakia’s Museum of Kitsch, located on the Štefánikovo square. This museum is unique in Europe and offers a collection of all sorts of dubious ‘art’, varying from sculptures, figurines and paintings to stuffed animals and even portraits of reality show stars. Just outside of the museum there is a collection of bronze noses of famous comedians, which were made as a tribute to the comedy festival.

Minted

Kremnica’s mint was founded in 1328 and has been operating continuously ever since. Its peak was during the 14th and 15th centuries, when its ducats were famous all over Europe and the royal mining and minting chamber had its headquarters here. Nowadays the mint continues to export coins and medallions to countries all over the world.

The mint is open for visitors and offers a tour through the whole process, showing not just the current high-tech machines, but also the older machines, of which some are still operational. The mining and minting techniques are detailed in greater depth in the Museum of Coins and Medals, which provides a full insight into the history of the town and the operations of the mint production. Both the factory and museum are located on the main square and are a must see when visiting Kremnica.

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This article was published in the latest edition of Spectacular Slovakia , which can be obtained from our online shop.
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Kremnica

www.kremnica.sk
Population: 5,525; Driving from Banská Bystrica: 52 km / 46 mins; Public transport from Banská Bystrica (transfer in Žiar nad Hronom - www.cp.sk): Bus: 1 hour 30 mins
+421 (0)45 674-4388; Štefánikovo námestie 35/44, Kremnica

Museums in Kremnica

Banské múzeum Kremnica (Kremnica Mining Museum)
www.muzeum.kremnica-gold.sk
Tel: +421 (0)45 674-3144
Banská cesta 803/27, Kremnica; Open Mon-Fri 8:30-17:00, Sat, Sun, state holidays 13:00-17:00; Ticket price: € 3.32

Múzeum mincí a medailí (Museum of Coins and Medals)
www.muzeumkremnica.sk
Tel: +421 (0)45 678-0301
Štefánikovo nám. 11/21, Kremnica; Open: Jul-Sep 15: Tue-Sun 8:30-13:00, 14:00-17:30, Sep 16-Jun: Tue-Sun 9:00-13:00, 14:00-16:30; Ticket price: € 2.69
Mestský hrad (Town Castle)
www.muzeumkremnica.sk
Tel: +421 (0)45 674-3968
Zámocké námestie 568/1, Kremnica; Open: Jul-Sep 15: Tue-Sun 8:30-13:00, 14:00-17:30, Sep 16-Jun: Tue-Sun 9:00-13:00, 14:00-16:30; Ticket prices: € 2.69
Mincovňa v Kremnici
(The Mint in Kremnica)
www.mint.sk
Tel: +421 (0)45 678-7800
Štefánikovo námestie 25/24, Kremnica; Open Mon-Fri 9:00-16:00; Ticket price: € 1.70 (one minting room), € 2.70 (both minting rooms)

Accommodation in Kremnica

Hotel Golfer*** (€ 79)
www.golfer.sk
Tel: +421 (0)45 674-3767
J.Horvátha 910/50, Kremnica

Penzión Stefanshof (€ 50)
www.stefanshof.sk
Tel: +421 (0)45 674-4097
Ul. Jula Horvátha 911/52, Kremnica

Penzión Veža (€ 50)
www.penzion-veza.sk
Tel: +421 (0)45 674-4231
Dolná 68/4, Kremnica

Dining and drinking in Kremnica

Športbar Fidenza
Tel: +421 (0)45 674-2570
Štefánikovo nám. 13/25 , Kremnica

Expresso Modrý Kocúr
Tel: +421 (0)45 674-4007
Dolná ul. 70/8, Kremnica

Restaurant and Caffé Silvanus
Mob: +421 (0)905 821-405
Štefánikovo nám. 33/40, Kremnica

Skalka Arena
www.skalkaarena.sk
Mob: +421 (0)911 307-290
Ski center 10 km from Kremnica (road 578). Total length of ski-slopes: 1,000 m, 5 lifts, 1 cableway); Accommodation, restaurant, wellness, bowling, squash, bikes available.


Events in Kremnica

January: Biela stopa Kremnica (The White Snow Track Race); International cross-country skiing competition www.bielastopa.eu
January: Big Air v meste (Big Air in Town); Jumps on skis or snowboard; Kremnica – square www.bigairvmeste.sk (Slovak only)
April: Cez sedem kremnických vrchov (Over the Seven Kremnica Hills); For those who like hiking
May: Majstrovstvá EÚ v guľkách (EU Championship of Marbles); Competition for children and adults
www.gulky.wibic.net
June: Hudba pod diamantovou klenbou (Music under the Diamond Dome); International festival of classical music
July - August: Kremnický hradný organ (Kremnica Castle Organ); European organ festival www.kremnickyhradnyorgan.sk
August: Kremnická bašta (Kremnica’s Bastion); Festival of folk music; www.tajf.sk
August: Kremnické gagy; Festival of satire and humour www.gagy.sk
September: Ľudový trh (Folk Market); Market connected with folk traditions and crafts
October: Kremnické jablko (Kremnica Apple); Exhibition of fruit and vegetables
November: Výročie mesta (Town Anniversary); Celebration connected with market and folk traditions and crafts

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