In Banská Štiavnica, on Holy Trinity Square, a historic building called the “Bank of Love” burned down on Saturday, 18 March. The fire also severely damaged the historic Berggericht building, where the roof of the historic building, covering an area of about 400 m2, burned down.

The fire affected and damaged seven buildings (public and private), the roofs and several floors of several buildings burned down.

The Bank of Love building where the fire originated

Berggericht building

Seventy firefighters and eighty soldiers, and paramedics were deployed. Due to the scale of the fire, a control headquarters was set up on the spot, and the fire causes investigators from the Fire Technical and Expertise Institute of the Ministry of the Interior arrived at the scene of the fire. The intervening officers shut down the building from the power supply and evacuated the persons from the nearby restaurant.

Building of the Slovak Mining Archives

Evacuated books from the antiquarian bookshop

Immediately adjacent to the Love Bank building is the Slovak Mining Archives. The Slovak Mining Archives in Banská Štiavnica is a specialised department of the Slovak National Archives (SNA). It administers more than 360 archive fonds of almost 6,000 running metres from the 16th century to the present day. Among the most valuable are the mining maps and plans of the Main Chamber – Count Office in Banská Štiavnica from 1524 to 1919, which was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The consequences of the fire in the archive were examined on-site by an expert team from the SNA’s Department of Preservation. According to the press department of the Ministry of the Interior of the Slovak Republic, the archive staff and dozens of volunteers moved the most endangered materials to the opposite wing of the building, where they could be moved outside the building if necessary. The archival documents were threatened by water from extinguishing the fire on the roof of the building. Covering entire shelves with waterproof car covers was also an effective measure. Thanks to the early intervention of the head of the archives and the rescue workers, the archival documents were not damaged by the fire. They were only damaged by water from the fire fighting on the roof of the building.

Shots from the Slovak Mining Archives

A qualified estimate of the investment costs for the complete reconstruction of the affected buildings after the fire in Banská Štiavnica in the UNESCO site represents a total amount ranging from 20 to almost 26 million euros, excluding value-added tax (VAT). Including tax, the amount could reach EUR 24 to 31 million. The most significant damage is to the Berggericht building, where the estimated costs for the complete reconstruction range from EUR 7.3 to 9.7 million. The second most damaged building is the Szitnyay House, which housed the Primary Art School. Experts have estimated investments in the range of EUR 4.5 to six million here. The third most damaged building is the townhouse that housed the Bank of Love, a qualified estimate here is approximately EUR 4.6 million. Other damaged buildings have costs estimated at up to one million euros. The approximate cost of repairing Holy Trinity Square is between one and two million euros.

The Slovak government will provide four million euros from its reserve this year for fire-damaged buildings in Banská Štiavnica, such as the local elementary art school.

The ministers decided on this at a government meeting in Banská Štiavnica, adding that seven million euros will also be allocated for the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of the Environment for the years 2023 to 2025, to be used for the maintenance and reconstruction of damaged buildings, restoration, conservation and related work on damaged archival documents in the administration of these ministries. These are the Slovak Mining Archives, the Slovak Mining Museum Berggericht, and the J. Kollár Gallery. The funds will also be earmarked for preventive measures, i.e., improving the buildings’ security against further fires.