Štiavnica is famous for its stylish cafés and pubs. Let’s look at them virtually, so that you can more easily decide which to visit. All of them are in the centre, within 10-minutes’ walking distance from Holy Trinity Square.
Igor Kuhn, musician and coffee lover
DIVNÁ PANI (STRANGE LADY)
Divná pani is Štiavnica’s most famous and visited café. Its good name reaches far beyond the town’s borders. Its beautiful, adjoining rooms, each of different size and character, are filled with antiques and other fascinating artefacts. The largest room has a beautiful glass dormer; in the past, a tailor’s workshop was housed here, and the dormer was added to provide more light for the seamstresses. The romantic courtyard offers shade even in summer. Divná pani has a playroom for children.
This is a place no winemaker should skip visiting. They pour and sell terroir wines by small local producers from the southern slopes of the Štiavnica Hills. (A short digression: Once, a huge volcano stood in the region; it was a 4 km high stratovolcano. Štiavnica sits in a its caldera, the volcano’s collapsed centre, resembling a cauldron. The hills around Štiavnica, including Mount Sitno, are the walls of this volcano, but the lava flew as far as Krupina.) The volcanic bedrock of the area’s vineyards is formed by tuffs and andesite, thanks to which the wines have a distinctive character. The so called “volcano wine” is a hit in the world today; stop by, so that you are “in”. Taste the wine, and do not hesitate to buy a bottle for the evening. The gentleman in the photo will gladly chat professionally with you about wine.
The ART CAFÉ is one of Štiavnica’s iconic pubs, in business for about 20 years. Musicians and DJs perform there frequently. Occasionally, the performers are from abroad, and one can enjoy essentially all musical genres there, except for hard and mainstream music. By the way, do not look for mainstream music in Banská Štiavnica. In summer, it is ideal to sit under an umbrella on the outdoor terrace. Occasionally, the Art Café hosts grill parties, and Samantha’s delicacies are legendary and world renowned. From the Art Café, you can easily walk up to Dolná ružová street, which has one of the most beautiful views of the town centre.
4 SOCHY (4 STATUES)
In “Statues”, everything is quality-oriented. They have their own coffee blend, always freshly ground, and pay special attention to proper coffee-brewing technology and technique. For a real coffee-lover, it is a true Mecca. It is the same with wines, liquors, cakes, and everything else they serve. The café has an air of nobility, furnished as it is with rare old furniture and artwork. In one of the rooms, Arpád Pál, an artist from Štiavnica, exhibits his unique sculptures, made of wood, precious metals and stones. His artworks are owned, for example, by King Harald V (Norway) and Queen Elizabeth II (UK and Commonwealth). They serve breakfast here from 8 am, and have a restaurant in the courtyard.
OLD MEN and TROTUÁR CAFÉ
When cafés put out their summer terraces, it is hard to find a place on the trotuár (from French), the elevated sidewalk along the main street of Štiavnica. The reason is its strategic position; when sitting here, nothing will escape your attention. The Old Men’s Cigar Club has an eloquent name. Cigars, cognacs, whiskeys, and heavy leather armchairs are the Club’s main features. If Churchill were a Štiavnica man, he would sit and discourse here. Also, it is the only bar in the centre where you can smoke, but thanks to good air-conditioning, even a non-smoker can survive here. Trotuár Café is a bit below. They also have their own coffee blend and good Pilsner on draught. Children are quiet because they watch the fish in the huge aquarium that divides the Café’s inside space. Thanks to Trotuár Café, you can safely enjoy your cup of coffee while sitting right beside the main street of Štiavnica.
In between Old Men and Trotuár Café, there is a small and charming Zlatý dvor (Golden Courtyard); it is worth looking into.
Archanjel is another iconic café in town. When it appeared eight years ago, it brought an atmosphere of fellowship, hospitality and professionalism to Štiavnica. It is the “incomer’s” café, where it is never a problem to join someone and have a chat about life (incomers are people who moved to live in Štiavnica from all over to enjoy the magical atmosphere of the town). In the evenings, it is a place of occasional spontaneous dancing, Štiavnica’s musicians jamming, or bands playing good music. Archanjel is soaked with the energy of good parties. The café uses the staircase across the road as its summer terrace. The staircase is located right next to a sculpture of the Virgin Mary. Guests sit here on specially made wooden seats, and waiters must cross the road to serve them. The archangels Michael, Gabriel and Rafael, along with the guardian angels, form a protective ring at the Virgin’s feet. Archanjel is closed for now, but soon it will open in new beautifull space.
Through a passage next to Archanjel, you will enter a magic courtyard, the appearance of which has probably not changed since the middle ages. Just look at the pavement, and you will understand. In the upper corner of the courtyard, you’ll find the wooden Nativity Scene of Štiavnica with 800 figures. Next to it is the pub U JAŠTERÍC (At Lizards). In this stylish pub, the walls are covered with photos of old Štiavnica as well by a photo of the mining moon. You will have to figure out for yourself what stands behind this mystical name. LIBRESSO, located at the bottom of the courtyard, is probably the most distinctive of all Štiavnica’s pubs. The inter-connected medieval rooms, some above but some under the ground, are extended by a cute little courtyard. The greatest attraction, however, is the entrance to a mine actually in the pub (A great number of people go there daily, “just to see the mine”, without having anything. Please don’t do it; if you were the owner, it would sure get on your nerves!).
Gavalier is a beautiful café in Joerges House at the upper end of Trinity Square. The interior is modern, or as we put it nowadays, well designed, though moderate, playful and fun. For locals, the main attraction (in addition to the great Carraro coffee, exclusive selection of rums from the Caribbean, and home-made lemonades) is the Confectionary Manufacture Gavalier, with a selection of their own hand-made cakes based on family recipes. The inside court-yard (called the patio) provides a cosy and shady place for sitting in summer. In this house, just as in many others, there is the entrance to a mine, which is open to the public only during Štiavnická vínna špacírka (Wine-tasting town wander – This is a very popular event in BS, people go from station to station in the centre, tasting wines from various regions, eating various foods, etc.). One of the first printing companies in Slovakia was housed in Joerges House.
ČAJOVŇA (TEA HOUSE) KLOPAČKA
Klopačka (the Knocking Tower) is a sacred place of pilgrimage for all tea lovers. In the past, the building (erected in 1861) was the miners’ alarm clock: miners were summoned to work by someone hammering vigorously with a mallet on a wooden board (Slovaks all know the famous song: “Wake up Jano, they are knocking for you to go to the mine; if you are late, you will not be allowed in”), but the “knocking” was also used to warn the town of enemies and fire. In the Tea House today, you can find more than 150 kinds of tea specialties from all over the world, water pipes and real Arabian coffee. The Tea House is a place for meetings and relaxing; children can play board games or engage in pillow fights in a room lined with mattresses.