Špania Dolina, Banská Bystrica, Banskobystrický kraj.
All year after appointment.
Adults EUR 3, Children EUR 1, Students EUR 1, Seniors EUR 2.
|Mining Museum Copper Mine
|Incandescent Electric Light System
Museum: D=1-2 h.
Trail: D=2 h.
Múzeum medi v Španej Doline, Špania Dolina 132, Špania Dolina, 974 01, Tel: +421-905-651-057.
Museum of Copper, Andrej Sitár, honorary master Brotherhood Herrengrund, (, ), Tel: +421-905-651-057. E-mail:
Banícka Nature trail, Jana Scholtzová, (, ), Tel: +421-908-927-636. E-mail:
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|Béla IV invites Saxon "guests" experienced in the search for precious metals.
|joint Fugger-Thurz company "Ungarischer Handel" founded.
|Fraternitas Corporis Christi first mentioned.
|King Vladislav allows the Ungarischer Handel company to build the first smelter for smelting copper ores.
|16 furnaces, warehouses, ovens, workshops, residential buildings erected at Gaza Mosthenicza.
|production of copper from mine drainage water introduced.
|mine property transferred to the national company Rudné bane, begin of reprocessing of slack heaps.
|slag heaps of Banská Štiavnica processed.
|end of copper production.
|Miners Fraternity Herrengrund established as a civic association.
|Mining Trail opened to the public.
|restored altarpiece of St. Clement from the 16th century installed at the church.
The Múzeum Medi (Copper Museum) at Špania Dolina was created by the Banícke bratstvo Herrengrund (Miners Fraternity Herrengrund). Such a Miners Fraternity is not a new thing, the first at Špania Dolina named Fraternitas Corporis Christi was mentioned in 1463. The current fraternity uses their insignia dating back to 1701 for the yearly aušusnícke služby (miner committee service). The service is dedicated to sv. Kliment (St. Clement), the patron saint of Špania Dolina miners.
The town has a long history in copper mining and the fraternity is dedicated to collect, restore and preserve traces of mining activity in the region. They created the museum and a mining trail, and they offer very competent guided tours. The small museum has a complete collection of local minerals, historic insignia of the Mining Brotherhood, tools and machinery for mining and ore processing. The museum is visited in guided tours after reservation,
The mining in the area started in prehistoric times. After the surface deposits were depleted, it became necessary to trace copper-bearing veins into the underground. The area was plundered by Tatars and many inhabitants were killed. In 1255 Béla IV invited Saxon "guests" experienced in the search for precious metals. They first settled at Neusohl, but they followed the ores to the hills north of the city. They founded the towns Špania Dolina (Herrengrund), Piesky (Sandberg), Richtárova (Richtergrund), Staré Hory (Altenberg) and Polkanová (Ratzenberg). The mining for copper, silver, and gold was very successful and numerous miners became quite wealthy. P. Karl, S. Jung, J. Ernest, and V. Mühlstein built the city by erecting their burgher houses around the square.
But after some time the mines became deeper and groundwater made further mining impossible and mining stagnated. At this point John Thurzo came and offered help in exchange for a long term lease of the mine. He leased the entire mining district. At the end of the 15th century, the joint Fugger-Thurz company named Ungarischer Handel (Hungarian Trade) reorganized the mining completely. They built mining shafts like Ferdinand shaft with water-driven mining machines. But they also introduced - for the first time ever - 8-hour working days, a pension for miners and widows, medical care, and other social security. The capital came from the German Fugger who also put his mastery in business, sales and capital into the company. The copper ingots with the Neusohl hallmark became famous for the high quality and were exported to the whole world. In the 50 years between 1496 and 1546 the Špaňodolinské mines produced 58,234 tons of copper and 111,280 kg of silver.
But in 1546 the company was closed and the mining complex came under the administration of the royal court. The ores were now transported to Banská Bystrica for further processing. During the late 16th century a unique water management system was created, which has an extraordinary cultural and historical value. In the 17th century a new method for copper production was introduced. The copper rich mine drainage water was collected in tanks with iron anodes, on which the copper was deposited as brown mash. At the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century, copper mining decreased, but still 50 to 70 tons of copper were mined annually. But the mine was finally closed in 1888.
The history of Špania influenced Europe, so-called Špania Cups were given to important visitors and are now on display in museums all over Europe. They are works of art made by Banská Bystrica goldsmiths from sheets of the chemically mined copper. A typical inscription of such a cup is I was iron, I became copper, gold covers me.
In 1946 the mine property was transferred to the national company Rudné bane. The slack heaps from centuries of mining were reprocessed in a new built flotation treatment plant in Banská Bystrica. Secondary minerals like tetrahedrite, chalcopyrite, malachite, azurite, cuprite, malletite, and bornit were processed. Between 1976 and 1980 the slag heaps of Banská Štiavnica were processed and the last copper was produced in 1985.
The Mining Trail is rather new and the best way is to book a guided tour at the Miners Fraternity. But it is also possible to walk it self-guided. The highlights are Denná štôlňa, a tunnel of the water system, Štôiňa Fajtlová, Šachta Ludvika, and the Štôlňa pod haldou (tunnel under the heap). The length of the circuit is 4.5 km and has 10 explanatory panels in Slovak and English. The guided tour takes about two hours.