Thanks to its turbulent and constantly changing history, we are able to marvel at a wide array of castles in Slovakia, which are extremely varied in both their function and appearance. Below I take a look at 14 must see Slovak castles, all of which are well worth a visit.
Devín Castle is situated 5 miles West of Bratislava on the Danube, and just a stone throw away from Austria.
The castle was destroyed in 1809 by Napoleon’s army, and today it lies in ruins.
Near the castle is a memorial to Ľudovít Štúr, who fought for Slovak independence from Hungary, and made Devín Castle a symbol of Slovakia’s glorious past.
Often referred to as an upside-down table, Bratislava Castle is certainly unique with an original design that is unmistakable.
Parts of the castle are open to the public and contain exhibitions of the Slovak National Museum.
There is a very good exposition on the History of Musical Instruments, as well as a historical furniture exposition and a collection of exhibits called ‘The Jewels of Slovakia’s Remote Past’.
Orava Castle is one of the most well-known in Slovakia, with people coming from all parts of the world to admire both its historical and aesthetic values. Today, the castle houses archaeological, ethnographical and natural history expositions. The original dungeons of the castle are also open to the public and house an exposition about medieval justice.
A guided tour of the castle in English is well worth the admission fee and includes amongst other things a demonstration of medieval hawkers and a sword fight between knights over their fair lady.
For those of you that venture to the top towers in the castle, the view over the Orava is simply stunning. All in all, Orava Castle makes for a great family day out.
Spiš Castle, with an area of over 4 ha, is one of the largest castles in Central Europe.
In 1993, Spiš Castle was included in UNESCO’s World Cultural and Natural Heritage List.
Today, the castle houses the Spiš Museum. This permanent exhibition, and the superb views of the surrounding countryside that the castle offers you, makes Spiš Castle well worth a visit.
The Castle at Kezmarok is the only fully preserved castle in the Spis region. It was originally a medieval Gothic fortress, built to protect the town of Kezmarok.
The first exhibition was opened in the castle in 1931, and today the whole of the interior has been given over to the museum, which displays a number of permanent expositions and many beautiful exhibits.
ČERVENÝ KAMEŇ CASTLE
One of the best preserved castles in Slovakia, Červený Kamen is situated at the foothills of the Small Carpathian mountain range. The castle has a unique complex of monumental cellars, as well as an extensive collection of original household artefacts.
The castle gallery contains works from old masters, predominantly from Central Europe, and there is also a very good military exhibition.
At the beginning of the C17th, Čachtice Castle belonged to the Countess Elizabeth Báthory.
As any vampire enthusiast will tell you, this was the infamous Blood Countess of Čachtice, who according to legend, bathed in the blood of virgins to preserve her youth. In reality, the Countess was one of the biggest serial killers in history, who tortured and murdered over 600 women from the nearby villages.
10 miles South of Trenčín, you can visit the ruin of Beckov Castle, which lies on a steep rock face overlooking the village of Beckov.
In the village itself, at the North end of the main square, there is a museum, which documents the castle’s history. It is from outside the museum, where you are able to enjoy the best view of the castle.
Trenčín Castle overlooks the town from its place on a high rocky headland.
Today, Trenčín Castle is owned by the Trenčín Museum, and there are a number of expositions housed in various parts of the castle including an interesting exhibition on ‘Present Slovak Heraldic Production’.
Engraved into the castle rock is an inscription by the Roman army, which dates back to 179AD.
One of the best known historical monuments in Slovakia, Bojnice Castle is also one of the most beautiful.
Today, the fairy-tale castle houses art and historical expositions all year round. There is also a falconry in the grounds, and the oldest lime tree in Slovakia.
However, it is the unconventional cultural activities, such as the International Ghost and Spirit festival, which set it apart from other castles in Slovakia.
Budatín Castle belongs to the water castles, that in the past were protected by streams and moats.
The water castles were built in the period after the Tatar invasion throughout Slovakia, to help prevent any further invasions.
Today, there are three exhibitions of the Považské museum housed here.
Both the archaeological and the historical exhibitions are worth a quick look, but the real attraction here is the Tinker Art exhibition, which is the largest of its kind anywhere in the world.
The dominant feature of the town castle is the gothic church of St. Catherine, the patron Saint of Kremnica. The church’s short and wide two-aisled nave is not typical of the gothic style.
The church’s tower, which was added to the church in the second half of the C15th, was used as the watchman’s tower in medieval times as it was the highest point in the castle.
Today, the tower, which has 127 steps, offers spectacular views of Kremnica and the surrounding countryside.
The position of Zvolen Castle is quite unique in that it is located right in the town centre. The castle was built between 1370-1380, originally intended as a comfortable accommodation for royal guests.
Today, this well-preserved castle is home to exhibitions of the Slovak National Gallery. These exhibitions include the “Old European Art” exposition, “From the history of Zvolen” exposition, and also various works by notable Slovak artists from C20th.
BANSKÁ ŠTIAVNICA NEW CASTLE
The new castle, in Banská Štiavnica, was built during the years 1564-1571, as part of the town’s fortification system.
Up on a hill, overlooking the town, the castle was defensively in a brilliant strategic position.
This same position now provides you with a beautiful view of the historic town and the surrounding area. Today, the castle houses a very interesting exposition about the Habsburg – Turkish wars.