Zvolen – Castle
Zvolen spreads on the confluence of the rivers Slatina and Hron in the South-West of the Zvolen basin between the Kremnické vrchy, Javorie and Zvolen Highlands. The east of the basin is guarded by the huge extinguished volcano Poľana.
Many of the historical records talk about colourful and highly developed culture of the inhabitants. We are successful to reveal its history only in the past two decades as the town has started the complex archaeological research in the Old Zvolen Castle ( Pustý hrad).
Palaeolithic Age > 5 000 B.C. First traces of the human activities come from Palaeolithic. We can see evidence in silicit taunts and kernels in Bakova Hole and in the Hrádok near Lieskovec.
Neolitic Age 5000 – 2200 B.C. Under the Pustý hrad in the locality of Dráhy there were found the traces of the housings of Bukova Hora Culture.
Aeneolitic Age 2200 – 1900 B.C. Distinctive housing material comes from Lieskovec, Veľká Stráža, Haputky and a Borová hora. From this locality two bladed cupper instrument with the slot is the first until now known metal product in the Zvolen basin.
From the collection of aeneolitic ceramics is noticeable the zoomorphic plastic of the small fat bull as a symbol of fertility.
Bronze Age 1900 – 700 B.C.
The most of the found objects come from the Bronze Age. There are numerous bronze instruments, weapons and jewellery found in many settlements and burial places. Up to now the most extensive burial place with 143 graves was investigated in 1954 in the locality of Krivá púť – Balkán. The graves were plain, but under the stone cairns with various ceramic objects. In 1944 in the locality of Pustý hrad there were disclosed 78 bronze working tools, weapons and jewels. In the years 1962 and 1964 during the groundwork two bronze treasures from Wend Culture were discovered.
Iron Age 700 – 0 B.C. In these times in our region the material finds are connected with the Celtic tribe of Cotini. The last findings of graphite ceramics and bronze brooches are from the second century B.C
Roman Age 0 – 380. The early Roman Age was influenced by the Puchov Culture and the presence of Celtic tribe of Cotini.
The town of Zvolen originated by emerging of various smaller under-castle settlements built on the elevated terraces of the river flats. The Slavic (Slovak) settlements were archeologically recorded wery soon. The most important is Hrádok ( Little castle) Priekopa over the confluence of Slatina and Neresnica ( IX.- XI. centuries). The town of Zvolen is the evidence of the old Slavic settlement of the south of Zvolen basin. The meaning of the military seat was held in the XII. century by the higher situated castle of Old Zvolen which became the centre of principality in the beginnings of Hungarian Kingdom. Zvolen was granted town privileges by King Bela IV. in the 1230s – as one of the first towns in the Hungarian Kingdom.
The attribute of the royal town was outer town fortification which was knotted to the castle fortification. The part of the city walls were four gates boosted by bastions and numerous circular and quadratic ramparts.
Together with renovation and reconstruction of the town an archaeological research takes place. Close to the Fair there was revealed torso of the basic fortification.
Sacral buildings :
Early in the 13 th century the royal town of Zvolen has the church sacred to St. Nicolas ( in written documents, but not found up to now). In the second part of the 13 th century another sacral object was built which is associated with contemporary parish church of St. Elizabeth . In the 14 th and 15 th centuries close to it were built parsonage, school, town hall together with prison, hospital ( spital) and clock tower. Another church is evangelical church of St.Trinity built in the years 1856-1857. It is 38 metres high.
Zvolen Castle was built on the hill over the long square. Hungarian King Louis the Great of Anjou had Zvolen Castle built in the second half of the 14 th century. Since the time of its founding the Castle has been often rebuilt and had several owners. In the historical sources the castle was titled royal house (domus regius) which indicated its residential function. King Matthias Corvinus and his wife Beatrix would enjoy coming there; it was also a residence of Ján Jiskra of Brandýs, and the Ján Thurzo’s possession.
The cruelest period in the history of Zvolen was the 16 th century. The Hungarian Empire was tossed about by struggling for the throne and the castle held Turkish and Tartar attacks off. It served for the protection of the access road to the rich mining towns. In the present there is situated an exposition of the Slovak National Gallery and historical archaeological findings from Zvolen.
Burgher´s and residential houses from the 15 th and 20 th centuries can be seen at the Slovak National Uprising Square . Many of them are proclaimed the part of the national cultural heritage. Wood and Forestry Museum is situated in one of the houses.
Zvolen with its 43 000 inhabitants is a district town and important crossroad and railway knot. The town is the centre of forestry and wood industry and education. Technical University is the only one in Slovakia that educates experts in the wood-processing area, forestry and ecology.
To commemorate war times there is well preserved armoured train and on the square the monument of the Slovak National Uprising named “ tomahawk”. Jewish cemetery is proclaimed the national cultural heritage. Zvolen also has “The park of Noble Souls.” In the east part of the town there are Soviet and Romanian war cemeteries. J.G.Tajovsky Theatre is situated on the main square . Each year Zvolen Castle Plays take place in the castle courtyard in the middle of June. In the beginning of September an international competition of steam locomotives “ Nostalgy in the clouds of Steam” takes place in Zvolen. Zvolen with surroundings offer rich opportunities of sports, tourism and spa relaxation in the near Sliač and Kováčová spas.