Medieval castles 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

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 struck it. In 1972 extensive co ...
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

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

Lietava Castle Ruins

Lietava Castle was built after 1241, most likely as an administrative and military centre. In the early 14th century, it is mentioned with Máté Csák III, one of the powerful magnates in the Kingdom of Hungary. The castle changed hands until the 16th century when the Thurzó family gained it. It was reconstructed and fortified, and given its own military garrison. After the death of Imre Thurz&oa ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Lietava, 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

Cachtice Castle Ruins

The Čachtice castle ruins stands on a hill featuring rare plants, and has been declared a national nature reserve for this reason. The castle was a residence and later the prison of the Countess Elizabeth Báthory, who is alleged to have been the world"s most prolific female serial killer. Čachtice was built in the mid-13th century by Kazimir from the Hont-Pázmány gens as a sentry on th ...
Founded: c. 1250 | Location: Čachtice, Slovakia

Fil'akovo Castle Ruins

The first written record of the Fiľakovo town and the Castle is from 1242, where the castle withstood the Mongol invasions. In 1423 the town received municipal privileges. In 1553 the town with castle fell to the Turks and was seat of a sanjak (an administrative division of the Ottoman Empire) until 1593, when it was reconquered by the Imperial troops. However, it fell once more to the Turks in 1662 and the town alon ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Fiľakovo, Slovakia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.