As some of you may or may not know, I am going to be an exchange student to Slovakia for the 2017-2018 school year. However, I myself have not done excessive amounts of research on where I will be staying, so to somewhat force myself to learn and to show others where I will be for the next year, I have written this short piece on the wonderful city of Banská Bystrica.
Banská Bystrica has had a rough history over the past couple hundred years, and it was first settled by Germans, and it was considered a permanent settlement in the 9th Century. However in 1255 it received the “municipal privileges of a free royal town of the Kingdom of Hungary”. This means that it was identified as one of the most important cities in the Kingdom of Hungary, and certain privileges were available for the city. Through the next 600 years, the city continued its ties with Hungary, until the country of Czechoslovakia declared its independence from the Hungarian state on October 28, 1918, right after the first world war. During the World War II, the city became part of the largest anti-Nazi opposition in all of Europe. The resistance began on August 29, 1944, however the anti-Nazi forces were defeated and the city of Banská Bystrica was occupied by the Germans until March 26, 1945 when the city was liberated by the Soviets. After the war, the city thrived becoming a home for many schools, such as its largest Matej Bel University.
The city was first formed over an ancient Slavic settlement, however the main reason the city exists to the extent it does to this day is because of the large amounts of copper that used to be hiding underneath the surface. However, the copper reserve underneath the surface would not last forever, so when it finally ran out in the 18th century the city was forced to look into different industries. Currently, the city derives most of its income (60%) from metallurgy, which is the the branch of science and technology concerned with the properties of metals and their production and purification. Other important sources of income are woodwork, engineering, chemistry, pharmacy and food processing.
The city is located right in the middle of the Hron River Valley, which funny enough the city hosts the Hron river which flows south through the city. The city is also surrounded by mountains, which are the Low Tatras to the north-east, the Veľká Fatra to the north-west, and the Kremnica Mountains to the west. The city of Banská Bystrica is known for its scorching summers, and its blistering cold winters.
When I will be arriving into Banská Bystrica I will have to fly into Vienna, which is the only flight I can get from LAX. I will then have to drive around 4 hours before I am able to get to Banská Bystrica, which in California it wouldn’t be that bad, but in Slovakia that is crossing nearly half the country! The climate will be extremely different than what I am used to in Southern California. I have been to the mountains and been in the snow, but I have never experienced sub-zero weather. In the city of Banská Bystrica, it is known to get below the freezing point for months on end! And the weather as of writing this on July 20, is 90° Fahrenheit! I am very excited to be able to go to such a unique and different place than where I live now, and I will try to update this as soon as I get anymore information!