1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Selmeczbánya

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SELMECZBÁNYA, officially called Selmecz-és Bélabánya (Ger. Schemnitz), the capital of the county of Hont, Hungary, 152 m. N. of Budapest by rail. Pop. (1900) 16,370, about two-thirds Slovaks. It is an old mining town, situated at an altitude of 1945 ft. in a deep ravine in the Hungarian Ore Mountains, and is built in terraces. Selmeczbánya is encircled by high mountains, notably the isolated peak of the Calvarienberg (2385 ft.) on the S.W., on which are situated a castle and a church, and the Paradiesberg (2400 ft.) on the N.W. It possesses a famous academy of mining and forestry, founded by Maria Theresa in 1760, to which are attached a remarkable collection of minerals, and a chemical laboratory. Among other buildings are a picturesque old castle dating from the 13th century, now in ruins with the exception of a few rooms used as a prison; the new castle, used as a fire watch-tower; and the town hall. The mines, chiefly the property of the state and of the corporation, yield silver, gold, lead, copper and arsenic. The town contains also flourishing potteries, where well-known tobacco pipes are manufactured. About 7 m. to the S.W. of the town lie the baths of Vihnye, with springs of iron, lime and carbonic acid, and about the same distance to the W. are the baths of Szkleno with springs of sulphur and lime.

Selmeczbánya is an old town whose mines existed in the 8th century. In the 12th century, together with the whole mining region of northern Hungary, it was colonized by German settlers, who later embraced the Reformation. Owing to the counter-reformation the German element was driven out during the 18th century, and its place taken by the actual Slovak population.