THE AREA of Špania Dolina valley, situated close to the city of Banská Bystrica, is thought to have been settled 3,000 years ago based on the findings of stone threshing floors used as bases for pulverising copper ore. As legend has it, a lump of copper was uncovered when the horse of a Spanish nobleman stumbled over it while travelling through the valley. “That’s where the name Špania Dolina allegedly comes from,” the town’s mayor, Marián Slobodník, explained to the TASR newswire.
Andrej Sitár, the master of the Miners’ Fraternity Herrengrund Špania Dolina, explained that the water flowing into Špania Dolina used for the mines used to be green. If a piece of iron was dipped in it, within six weeks its surface changed into copper. The green sediment that was left from the water was drained and exported all over Europe, which painters, including Florentine Renaissance artist Sandro Boticelli, bought for their paintings.
According to Sitár, copper mining is believed to have started in the area around 1300 BC, and to have continued uninterrupted until 1888 AD. “It is estimated that during this period, about 300,000 tonnes of copper and about 57 tonnes of silver were mined in the territory,” Sitár said. The mayor added that mining of copper ore was revived in 1964, and lasted until 1985.
8. Apr 2013 at 0:00 | Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská