Although the land next to the meander of the Hron river is rather limited for Banská Bystrica of today, in Middle Ages it was an ideal area for founding a prosperous town. Two important trade routes crossed here. Moreover the environs were rich in ores. The main source of income of the medieval town was mining. Banská Bystrica was member of the exclusive trio of the richest central Slovakian mining towns.
The economic structure of Banská Bystrica changed in the 18th century. Extraction of copper ore was replaced by extraction and processing of iron and the riches of forests surrounding the town were more intensively exploited. In the mid-20th century, the town entered the history when in August 1944 became the centre of the Slovak National Uprising. The second largest insurrection against the German Nazi regime following the Yugoslav partisan war took place here.
The Monument to the SNP and the open-air museum situated in the park near the town centre commemorate these events. The second half of the 20th century brought great changes for Banská Bystrica. It expanded to a modern central Slovakian metropolis and became the sixth biggest town of Slovakia.