text by prof. PhDr. Alexandra Bitušíková (Head of University Center for International Projects at Matej Bel University), images by Pietro Masi (Promoter s.r.l).
Coordinated by Matej Bel University, the INCULTUM Pilot 3 Mining Treasures of Central Slovakia aims at supporting territorial and tourist promotion in this region which has significant cultural and technical heritage related to its mining history. One result of this Pilot is the participatory process with students and local operators for the realization of the website http://www.banickepoklady.eu/ including an interactive map of the mining heritage and many informative resources about museums, activities, hicking routes and events for tourists in the area.
The legend of the Banská Štiavnica lizards
The city of Banská Štiavnica has been connected with mining and rich deposits of precious metals since ancient times. No one really remembered when exactly it all started, but there is an old legend about little lizards (Salamandra salamandra) that gave Banská Štiavnica its wealth and fame. “Supposedly it was the shepherd who first saw them up on the hillside, shining more brightly than the sun in the sky”, this is how mothers were telling their children a good night legend of Banská Štiavnica lizards.
The event that completely changed the life of the region of Banská Štiavnica is said to have happened a long time ago (approx. in the 13th century) when this region was mostly covered by dense forests, small meadows and a few settlements. As the legend says, the shepherd Ján lived right in the middle of this. One day he drove the herd out to pasture again. On the way, he pulled out a whistle from his pocket and started playing with his nimble fingers. And when he was already high on the hillside and far from his native settlement, he stopped to look at the enchanting landscape. He enjoyed how pleasant the sunny day was and his game attracted even the small inhabitants of the forest. He sat on a rock and looked at the animals.
Then suddenly, there were lizards basking in the sun on a big rock in a distance. He had never seen such a wonderful thing before. Two of them shone with a kind of strange light as if they were forged from silver or gold. Ján was surprised and wanted to take a closer look at them, but they hid under a rock. The boulder was big, but the shepherd’s curiosity didn’t let him rest. He rolled it away with great difficulty. What he saw under the rock changed the history of the region. A lump of gold as huge as a hat was hiding under a boulder. The shepherd pinched his cheek, kicked his ankle to see if he was dreaming.
The rumor about its discovery spread with the speed of the wind, and so people began to converge from all sides. They dug into the ground, dug shafts, and later whole mines and settlements were created next to them. They built beautiful houses, churches, schools and gave birth to a city nestled in a valley, a city that bears a proud name Banská Štiavnica.
Marec, Anton. 2000. Hnali sa veky nad hradbami. Martin: Vydavateľstvo Matice slovenskej. https://www.banskastiavnica.sk/mesto/zvyky-a-zaujimavosti/#
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