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 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 comple ...
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

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.