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Spania Valley lies in the southern part of Low Tatra mountains close to the town of Banska Bystrica in Central Slovakia. It is a town of old and famous mining tradition. They mined copper ore and produced copper with primitive methods 1000 years before birth of Christ. Even Romans new about this wealth. Spania Valley in Latin called Vilinis Dominorum, really in Slovak means Ruler's Valley. Above the town is a large mountain called Ruler's part. The exact date for the birth of the town is not known, but in 12th century the Hungarian kings supported the mining of copper. The mines and the whole surrounding area belonged to the Chamber of Mines. Most of the profits went to two companies controlled by Mr. Fuger and Mr. Thurzo. These well-known bankers were exploiting the miners, which led to numerous uprisings, the largest being in the years' 1525-26.

The copper ore was shipped throughout the whole Europe and the copper produced from it was the finest. They also built a copper smelter, for which a large amount of water was necessary. They built a water main, all the way from a spring some 27 miles away under Prasiva in Low Tatra mountains, which in those days was a significant technical accomplishment. In 18th century the mining of copper went to decline and the town too. The companies left and after their departure there was nobody to finance the mine. In 1888 they stopped completely. Most of the miners were of German descent and they mowed to other new thriving mining towns such as Kremnica (gold), Banska Stiavnica (silver). Dominant feature of this old mining town, Roman Catholic Church, is high up on the hill above the town. You can get there by a steep road or walking some 200 covered steps from the town square. The restored bastion against Turks, old fortification walls, historic chapels are significant historic and cultural monuments of the first class.

The church was built in stages from 12th century. The main structure with the chapels is from 1593, the bell tower from 1723. The church is dedicated to the transformation of Jesus on the mount Tabor, celebrated on August 6.

I have been there for the first time in summer of 1991 and stayed for a beautiful Sunday mass. I left the car at the town square below and on my return discovered that the car windows were left open with all my valuables in, as the money and video camera, etc. It was all there as I left it. This summer I have returned again. Three ladies at the bottom of the stair tunnel leading to the church were making old style bobbin laces with small sticks.

This was a privilege in the old days for the wives of the killed miners, granted by the rulers. In Spania Valley the life goes on despite the economic problems, new houses with architecture keeping with the character of the town are being built.




Published in the Slovak Heritage Live newsletter Volume 1, No. 4, Winter 1993
Copyright © Vladimir Linder 1993 
3804 Yale Street, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada V5C 1P6
The above article and photographs may not be copied, reproduced, republished, or redistributed by any means including electronic, without the express written permission of Vladimir Linder. All rights reserved.