Mining town Gelnica and surroundings
Copper, silver and iron ore have always been a very important source of wealth for the Spiš region. They have been mined for centuries in the northern slope of the Spiš-Gemer mountain range of Slovenské Rudohorie, in the southeastern edge of the Spiš region.
The main centre of the Spiš mining industry is the town
Gelnica. It had a special royal mining privilege. Many other small mining towns and villages arose in the region all around Gelnica. German speaking population (speaking unusual dialect) has always had a majority in the region. The Thurzo´s family was the most powerful in the 15-th century. They even built a castle in
A statue of a praying miner in the centre is a symbol of the town
Gelnica. You would find here also a museum of mining industry. Man-made lakes exist as a result of mining industry, too. Some of them, the Thurzovské jazero (Thurzo´s Lake) or Uhornianske jazero (Uhornianske Lake), are favourite recreational localities today.
A small town Smolník was known by its mint and by a production of copper from water - verdigris. Mníšek nad Hnilcom and Vondrišel (today
Nálepkovo) were mining towns as well. Most of the people living in numerous local villages - Slovaks or Ruthenians - were miners. This is true especially for the village Žakarovce. Its folk architecture is still well preserved. The other villages were agricultural. In the village Štefánska Huta they built up a modern metallurgical factory in the last century. In Jaklovce, there was a manor house of a family that founded the village. Gothic architecture of the church gives the evidence about the importance of the village in past.
Many villages that did not keep its original folk architecture have folk musical bands instead. They promote original folk dresses, songs and dances at their performances. There are still many folk artists, craftsmen and first of all wood carvers in the region. The villages situated high in the mountains, such as Kojšov and Závadka, have a very peculiar character.