Banská Bystrica is a city in central Slovakia, located on the Hron River in a long and wide valley encircled by the mountain chains of the Low Tatras, the Veľká Fatra, and the Kremnica Mountains. With approximately 76,000 inhabitants, Banská Bystrica is the sixth most populous municipality in Slovakia. The present-day town was founded by German settlers, invited by the Hungarian Árpád-kings, during the Middle Ages (as part of the Ostsiedlung), however it was built upon a former Slavic/Slovakian/Avar settlement. A part of Zolyom county after the Hungarian conquest. During the reign of Béla IV of Hungary it obtained the municipal privileges of a free royal town of the Kingdom of Hungary in 1255 and resettled with Germans from Thüringen. The copper mining town acquired its present picturesque look in the late Middle Ages when the prosperous burghers built its central churches, mansions, and fortifications. It is the capital of the kraj (more specifically Banská Bystrica Region) and the okres (Banská Bystrica District). It is also the home of Matej Bel University. As a historical town with an easy access to the surrounding mountains, Banská Bystrica is a popular winter and summer tourist destination.