Castles and fortifications in Slovakia

Bratislava Castle

Bratislava Castle has been a dominant feature of the city for centuries and it is the national monument of Slovakia. The castle, like today's city, has been inhabited for thousands of years, because it is strategically located in the center of Europe at a passage between the Carpathians and the Alps and at an important ford used to cross the Danube river. Early History The people of the Boleráz culture were the first k ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Bratislava, Slovakia

St. Urban Tower

St. Urban Tower is originally a Gothic prismatic campanile with a pyramidal roof. It was erected in the 14th century. A church bell installed in the tower has been dedicated to Saint Urban, the patron of vine-dressers. The bell was cast in a mould by the bell-founder Franciscus Illenfeld of Olomouc in 1557. Its weight is 7 tonnes. In 1775 the pyramidal roof was constructed with annion in the Baroque style with an iron do ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Košice, Slovakia

Devín Castle

Devín Castle is a national cultural monument of Slovakia and one of the oldest fortifications in the country. Owing to its strategic position, the cliff (altitude of 212 meters) at the confluence of the Danube and Morava rivers was an ideal place for a fort. Its owner could control the important trade route along the Danube as well as one branch of the Amber Road. That is why the site has been settled since the Neolithic ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Devín, Slovakia

Bojnice Castle

Bojnice castle is a neo-Romantic castle with some original Gothic and Renaissance elements built in the 12th century. Bojnice Castle is one of the most visited castles in Slovakia, receiving hundreds of thousands of visitors every year and also being a popular filming stage for fantasy and fairy-tale movies. Bojnice Castle was first mentioned in written records in 1113, in a document held at the Zobor Abbey. Originally b ...
Founded: c. 1113 | Location: Prievidza, Slovakia

Banská Bystrica Castle

The Banská Bystrica town castle was once formed by several ancient buildings. Its task was to protect the income proceedings of copper and silver mining for the royal treasury. The town castle was built gradually. The parish church was built as the first structure in the 13th century and fortifications were added to it in the 15th century. Earth ramparts and palisades were later replaced by tall stone walls fortif ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Banská Bystrica, Slovakia

Spis Castle

The ruins of Spiš Castle (Spišský hrad) is one of the largest castle sites in Central Europe. It was included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1993 (together with the adjacent locations of Spišská Kapitula, Spišské Podhradie and Žehra). Spiš Castle was built in the 12th century on the site of an earlier castle. It was the political, administrative, economic and cultural centre of Szepes County of th ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Spišské Podhradie, Slovakia

Starý Zámok

Starý zámok (literally Old Castle) is well preserved castle complex built in the 15th and 16th centuries. It was embedded to the church of Our Lady from the 13th century. The first documented mention dates from 1486. The church was damaged by earthquake in 1443 and the reconstruction to the fortress was made between 1495-1515 against the Turkish threat. The last significant restoration on the defense complex ...
Founded: 1495-1515 | Location: Banská Štiavnica, Slovakia

Orava Castle

Orava Castle, situated on a high rock above Orava river, is considered to be one of the most beautiful castles in Slovakia. The castle was built in the Kingdom of Hungary in the 13th century. Orava Castle stands on the site of an old wooden fortification, built after the Mongol invasion of Hungary of 1241. Its history since then reveals a familiar pattern of construction, destruction, reconstruction, fire, various ownersh ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Oravský Podzámok, Slovakia

Lubovna Castle

Ľubovňa Castle was built after 1292 by the Hungarian King Andrew III. As a border guard castle, it protected trade routes to Poland. Famous Hungarian and Polish noble families entered its history. The castle was the seat of the Polish trustees from the Spiš region for more than 350 years. Hungarian and Polish Kings and Queens, such as Mary, Sigismund, Vladislav II Jagiełło, John Albrecht, John C ...
Founded: c. 1292 | Location: Stará Ľubovňa, Slovakia

Somoska Castle

Šomoška Castle is unique among the Slovak castles as it is built of unconventional hexagonal basalt pillars. It was probably built in the later half of the 13th century after the Tartar invasion. After suppression of the Rákoczis rebellion, the Emperor had pulled down several castles, but Šomoška was spared. However, it gradually decayed and the last tower burnt in 1826 when a lighting s ...
Founded: 1291 | Location: Somoskő, Slovakia

Krásna Hôrka Castle

The Krásna Hôrka Castle stands on top of the conspicuous unwooded mountain, which dominates the Rožňavská kotlina basin. The main attraction though is the embalmed body of Sophia Andrássy-Serédy. Despite the castle was extensively damaged by fire in 2012 it is said to be one of the country's best-preserved castles. The original Gothic castle was built around 1320. The courtyard of the upper part of a rather small ...
Founded: 1320 | Location: Krásnohorské Podhradie, Slovakia

Kezmarok Castle

Kežmarok Castle dates from 1463. It was built for the defence the town on the site of the medieval community of Svätá Alžbeta (St. Elisabeth). The original castle was built in the Gothic style with thick walls and massive bastions. The castle gained its contemporary Renaissance form after extensive rebuilding which proceeded in various stages in the years 1572, 1575, 1583, and 1624. The last phase was completed by Še ...
Founded: 1463 | Location: Kezmarok, Slovakia

Trencín Castle

Trenèín Castle is relatively large renovated castle, towering on a steep limestone cliff directly above the city of Trenèín. It is a dominant feature not only of Trenèín, but also of the entire Považie region. The castle is a national monument. History of the castle cliff dates back to the Roman Empire, what is proved by the inscription on the castle cliff proclaiming the victory of Roman legion against Germans in ...
Founded: 800-900 AD | Location: Trenèín, Slovakia

Modrý Kamen Castle

The name of the Modrý Kameň town was first mentioned as Keykkw ('Blue rock') in 1290. Ruins of the Modrý Kameň castle stand on a rock pinnacle above the town. The castle was built in the second half of the 13th century by the ancestors of the Balassa noble family. They had to recapture the castle from sons of Casimir of the Hunt-Poznan clan by a siege in 1290. The castle was captured by O ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Modrý Kameň, Slovakia

Beckov Castle

The Beckov castle stands on a steep 50 m tall rock in the village Beckov. The dominance of the rock and impression of invincibility it gaves, challenged our ancestors to make use of these assets. The result is a remarkable harmony between the natural setting and architecture. The castle first mentioned in 1200 was originally owned by the King and later, at the end of the 13th century it fell in hands of Matúš Èák. It ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Nové Mesto nad Váhom District, Slovakia

Nový Zámok

Nový zámok (literally 'New Castle') is a six-floor Renaissance building with four bastions. It was constructed in 1564–1571 as a watch tower during the Ottoman wars. Because of its dominant position, it was also used as the town"s live clock (exact time was announced every quarter of an hour on a trumpet). A permanent exhibition called Anti-Turkish Wars in Slovakia is installed on four ...
Founded: 1564–1571 | Location: Banská Štiavnica, Slovakia

Strecno Castle

Streèno Castle is located on top of the steep limestone rock on the left bank of the Váh river. The castle was mentioned for the first time in 1384. Based on indirect written reports it can be assumed that the Castle already existed in the first half of the 14th century. It was to safeguard the toll collection at a ford through the Váh river. The oldest castle had the area of only 18x22 m. It comprised a r ...
Founded: 1316 | Location: Streèno, Slovakia

Kremnica Castle

Kremnica castle comprises a compound of medieval buildings from the 14th through 15th centuries, protected with double fortifications to which town walls are connected. The town walls rank among the best-preserved town fortifications in Slovakia. The Church of St. Catherine, the patron saint of the town, is the dominant sight of the castle area. The church, with the interior in the Neo-Gothic style, is well-known also be ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Kremnica, Slovakia

Nitra Castle

Nitra castle was built in the 11th century on the place of an earlier fort. The core of the castle is St. Emmeram's Cathedral with the Bishop's residence, with several different parts. The oldest surviving part is the Romanesque Church of St. Emmeram from the 11th century. The other two parts of the cathedral are the originally Gothic Upper Church from the 14th century, and the Lower Church from the 17th century. Vazil´s ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Nitra, Slovakia

Liptovský Hrádok Castle

At the beginning of the 14th century Magister Donč, the head of the Zvolen county, built a Gothic stone castle on a small dolomite rock. The castle was surrounded by a moat which is now only a small romantic lake. In 1341 was the first written record about the castle named Wywar, in later documents it is referred to as Novum Castrum – New Castle, or Hradek. One of its strategic roles was to control the importan ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Liptovský Hrádok, Slovakia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Derbent Fortress

Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.

Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.

A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.

The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.

The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.

In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.

In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.