Pukanec is a former free royal mining town located on the southern slopes of the Štiavnické vrchy Mountains. The nearby Sitno and other ancient volcanoes created silver and gold veins in their underground. It is because of these precious metals that mining engineers and miners from Germany were invited to this town. They formed the architectonic character of the future town. Apart from gold and silver, Pukanec has a favourable climate for fruit farming, gardening and viniculture.
Pukanec’s history dates back to the 11th century. For decades, Pukanec was the home of miners, nobility, scientists and ecclesiastical figures of Hungarian, German and Slovak nationality. Warlike conflicts over the centuries didn’t spare Pukanec, be it Turk raids or battles of Hungarian nobles or bishops’ armies. Thick defensive walls witness to troubled times; they are still preserved in some places and contribute to the characteristic atmosphere of the town. However, even though they were under construction for almost twenty years, they were never completed and in 1640 there came, as recorded in the archives, the Terrible Night of Pukanec, when the town almost completely burned down. It wasn’t the only instance when Pukanec burned down and in the early 18th century, plague spread through the town. The relics from these tragedies and troubled fortunes as well as works of skilled craftspeople can be seen by visitors of Pukanec even today. Let me invite you for a tour.
The square with a typical German ground plan has a Protestant church directly at the centre. The original Protestant church originated in Pukanec with the arrival of German businesspeople already; the residents of Pukanec were mostlyProtestants (during the time of the Reformation) and the worship services took place in St. Nicolas Church. During the Anti-Reformation Period, the sanctuary had to be returned to the Catholic Church and after the issue of the Patent of Toleration by Joseph II., a toleration Protestant church was built on a hill behind the city walls between 1783 and 1784. In 1934 to 1935, a new Protestant church was built in the square in the place of a demolished pharmacy. The church is a prominent landmark of the square to this day. If you admire functionalism, don’t miss it.
In front of the Protestant church there is a Holy Trinity column, a baroque sculptural group from 1740, a few steps further across the road there is a small building of the Fire Station, today serving as a museum.
Fire Brigade History Museum
Visitors can admire a functional historical fire engine with its equipment directly from the street, but it is worth visiting the upper floor with the fire brigade museum exposition as well. The exhibits include uniforms and commemorative items.
The most important ones are written documents and fragments of a chronicle. Due to the fiery past of Pukanec, very strict anti-fire rules applied in the town. Do you know what the penalty for arson was in Pukanec? The convict was not only sentenced to three years of prison, they also had to suffer regular fasting and beating with a stick!
St. Nicolas Church
Directly near the Fire Brigade Museum there is the entrance to St. Nicolas Church. Honestly, I have visited many churches in various countries in my life. For a time, I agreed with my friend Carlos from Brazil, who claimed that all churches in Europe look the same on the inside.
Well. They do have something in common. The altar, the pews, the chandeliers, the statues. The stained-glass windows.
And then there are churches that leave one breathless with their atmosphere. Churches like the one in Pukanec, which has a fascinating, unique ceiling, extremely beautiful gothic altars – there are four smaller wing altars apart from the main one in the church – and many other valuable historical artefacts. If you were to see only a single church in your life, hurry to Pukanec. Maybe you too will forget what day it is and why you came.
Mining, Crafts and Fruit Farming
Nothing stays forever, not even the silver and gold supply in Pukanec mines. In the 19th century, the last mine was closed and, sadly, that was the end of the most glorious period of Pukanec’s history. In 1876, Pukanec stopped being a free royal town and in 1891 it became a village.
In the 17th century already, mining started to be replaced by crafts. Coopers, goldsmiths, blacksmiths, locksmiths, cobblers, wheelmakers and potters. What masters those were!
You can admire the works and the tools of the old masters in the Pukanec History Museum. You can visit an original and functional potters’ workshop on the Štiavnica Road, you just need to make an arrangement. Master potters work in the workshop, creating clay items for everyday use including mugs, bowls, dishes, but also roasting pans and marble cake moulds or decorative trinkets. After firing the vessels, they paint them with traditional as well as more modern ornaments.
The most famous Pukanec fruit is the mulberry. On the Pukanec estates, there grow as many as 470 such trees, some of which are more than 300 years old. A massive tree with fruit, which can readily be classified as superfood due to its content of medicinal substances, is at home in Pukanec.
You can find here not only the beginning and the end of an educational trail, but also growers and breeders, who will willingly show and tell you what the mulberry can do. All you need is to arrange a visit.
Wine and Rest in Pukanec
We concluded the visit of Pukanec in the Greatest Pukanec Cellar. It is located out of the town, in the forest and it really deserves its name. Wines mature in it and it is possible to taste them after an appointment. Accommodation in a furnished cottage is also available near the cellar.
Forest silence, the cellar and the vicinity of a mining road gives unique atmosphere to the town. Maybe, like us, you will be reluctant to leave Pukanec, but at least you’ll promise yourselves that you will return here.