Bardejov, Royal city, Slovakia
The territory of present-day Bardejov has attracted settlers since the Stone Age. However, the first written reference to the town dates back to the 1240s, when monks from Bardejov complained to King Béla IV about a violation of the town’s borders by Prešov. By that time, the important church of Sv. Aegidius (St. Giles) had already been built. Heavily fortified in the 14th century, the town became a center of trade with Poland. More than 50 guilds controlled the flourishing economy. Bardejov gained the status of a royal town in 1376, later becoming a free royal town. The town’s golden age ended in the 16th century, when several wars, pandemics, and other disasters plagued the country.
Bardejov is dominated by the monumental church of Sv. Aegidius, mentioned for the first time in 1247. A three nave basilica with multiple chapels was completed by the 15th century. It hosts eleven precious Gothic winged altars with panel paintings. The central square (Slovak: Radničné námestie), which used to be the town’s medieval marketplace, is now surrounded by well-preserved Gothic and Renaissance burghers’ houses. One of the most interesting buildings is the town hall, built in 1505. The lower part was built in the Gothic style, while the upper part was finished in the Renaissance style. The fortification system and town walls date from the 14th and 15th centuries and is listed by the European Fund of Cultural Heritage as one of the most elaborate and best preserved medieval fortifications in Slovakia.