Our world comprises material “phenomena” and feelings evoked by places, spaces, and works of art… The city of Banská Štiavnica has developed into a complex environment since the 12th century including its urban spaces and houses which are being conserved. But there is also something what we can call genius loci, that is as a part of the city´s authenticity provided by buildings, which we sometimes fail to restore. Why is it so? The town does not attract settlers anymore because of golden-silver mines. It is the spirit that people are seeking for. What exactly is the spirit? The energy of our ancestors, authenticity…? The spirit usually vanishes with the use of modern materials and replicas. To counteract using of modern materials we organise workshops in traditional methods. However, there is still the question: what keeps the original architecture alive and whether we can introduce new purpose and keep the original genius.
This article concerns with monitoring of architectural heritage (e.g. listed monuments and historical buildings) and its transformation during the conservation process, in the context of legal preservation requirements. First, the aims and the subject of the work are defined and the current knowledge on the subject is introduced. The article analyses problems surrounding the architectural conservation process in practice, in particular the preservation of authenticity, since authenticity is a primary criterion for the nomination and acceptance of sites by the World Heritage Centre. The knowledge comes from the research which analyses the degree to which works on monuments in Banská Štiavnica Preservation Area have preserved the monuments´ authenticity, and quantifies authenticity loss which occurred at certain times; as well as the reasons for the loss. The process of heritage conservation is one of several factors in authenticity loss. In the interests of objectivity, as well as for the benefit of future field work, an “authenticity test” is important. This test has already been applied in specific instances involving monuments in Banská Štiavnica, and has proven effective in pinpointing the reasons for both desirable and undesirable restoration results. The article then presents the components of the conservation process with the aim of identifying the most effective ones, as far as the influence on final results is concerned.
The test of authenticity can help in scientific as well as in practical way in architectural heritage preservation and conservation. The test can reflect the fails and weaknesses in the process of heritage conservation. Thanks to the results of the test of authenticity, it is possible to lay out ways in which the theory and practice of cultural heritage preservation and conservation in Slovakia may continue in future.