Medieval castles in 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

Cerveny Kamen Castle

Červený Kameň Castle was built in the 13th century as part of the chain of the Kingdom of Hungary’s frontier defense castles ranging from Pressburg to Žilina. Although the Fugger family built the massive fortress in the first half of the 16th century on the site of an original royal castle, its history is connected with the Pálffy noble family. This important Hungarian aristocratic family gr ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Častá, Slovakia

Vinné Castle Ruins

Vinné Castle is the ruin of a Gothic castle probably built in the second half of the 13th century to protect the road leading to Poland. During the war of the Hungarian King Matthias and the Polish monarch Casimir IV it was severely damaged in 1466. In the beginning of the 16th century the castle repaired and fortified but in 1594 it was again damaged by the imperial army. In the mid-17th century Vinne castle was l ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Vinné, Slovakia

Zvolen Castle

Zvolen Castle is a medieval well-preserved castle located on a hill near the center of Zvolen. The original seat of the region was above the confluence of Slatina and Hron rivers on a steep cliff in a castle from the 12th century, known today as Pustý hrad (meaning 'Deserted castle'). Its difficult access had consequence in relocation of the seat to the new-built Zvolen castle, which was ordered by Louis I the Great as a ...
Founded: 1360-1382 | Location: Zvolen, Slovakia

Smolenice Castle

Smolenice Castle was built in the 15th century, but it was destroyed during Rákóczi's War of Independence and Napoleanic wars. In 1777, Count János Pálffy from Pezinok inherited Smolenice but did not reside in the castle due to its poor condition and lack of money for rebuilding it. The castle was rebuilt in the 20th century by order of Count József Pálffy. The architect Jozef Hubert designed the new castle by using ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Smolenice, Slovakia

Bytca Castle

Bytča Castle was originally built as a water castle by Pongrác Szentmiklósi in the 13th century and rebuilt between 1571 and 1574 in Renaissance style by Ferenc Thurzó. The Italian architect Ján Kilian of Milan was invited to oversee the construction. George Thurzo continued his father’s activities and due to him the Wedding Palace was built in 1601, which was meant to serve for the ...
Founded: 1571-1574 | Location: Bytča, Slovakia

Saris Castle Ruins

Šariš Castle is one of the oldest castles and biggest in Slovakia. It was permanently settled from the Neolithic to the 4th century AD, then from the 10th to the 12th century, and finally a new castle was built in the 13th century. This castle burned down in 1678.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Veľký Šariš, Slovakia

Slanec Castle Ruins

Slanec Castle is situated on the hilltop above the village. The exact date of construction is unknown but it was probably built after the Mongol invasion. It is thought to be originated in the Árpád era. The oldest authentic mention can be found in a charter of the chapter of Eger from 1303, when the sons and descendants of Szalánczi I Péter (Petri de Zalanch) shared the castle and other posses ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Slanec, Slovakia

Gýmes Castle Ruins

A striking dominant feature in the greater Nitra vicinity is the ruins of Gýmeš Castle, lying on the steep, quartzite Dúň hill. The first written mention of the village of Gýmeš was in the Zobor Deed of 1113 as part of the property belonging to the Benedictine abbey. King Andrew II presented the village in 1226 to Ivanko, descended from the ancient Hunt–Poznán family. I ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Jelenec, Slovakia

Budatín Castle

Budatín castle was built as a guarding castle in the second half of the 13th century near the confluence of the Kysuca and the Váh, where tolls were collected. At the beginning of the 14th century, originally royal fortress passed into the hands of Matthew III Csák and the castle, especially towers were fortified, and inside the fortress a new palace was built. Since 1487, the new owner of the castle was Gašpar Suňo ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Zilina, Slovakia

Levice Castle Ruins

The castle in Levice was built in the 13th century, when the near Tekovsky castle’s importance had declined due the devastation of Tartars. It was built on andesite rock, the remnants of Neogenic volcanic activity, which extended to the Štiavnica hills. The west side of the castle was bounded by the marshy meadow of the river Hron, with its several river branches. The castle itself had been a fortress for pro ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Levice, Slovakia

Lupca Castle

The Ľupča castle is the highest located castle building in the Hron area (Pohronie). The castle is built on the north side of a relatively narrow fold of the Hron which is closed by the slopes of the Slovak Ore Mountains from the south and by the slopes of the Low Tatras from the north. The oldest part of the castle is built on the isolated rock on the last hill of the Low Tatras jag with an altitude of 375m abo ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Slovenská Ľupča, Slovakia

Pajstún Castle Ruins

Pajštún Castle was built in 13th century as part of a regional castle system aimed at defending the north-western border of the Kingdom of Hungary. One of the first known records mentioning the castle comes from 1314 in connection to its owner, Otto from Telesprun; many sources often, mistakenly, date the first mention of the castle to 1273. In 1390, Sigismund, the Holy Roman Emperor and King of Hungary at t ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Borinka, Slovakia

Hrusov Castle Ruins

The origins of Hrušov castle are not known, but it was probably built after the invasion of Tatars around 1253. From 1321 to 1344 it belonged to the family Levické and then became a royal property. In 1347 King Louis I of Hungary gave it to the governor Hrušov. The castle was destroyed by the Imperial army in 1708 and is in decay since then. However, its surviving walls induce a romantic atmosphere an ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Topoľčianky, Slovakia

Sásov Castle Ruins

The ruins of the medieval Šášov Castle stand above the river Hron. According to a legend, the lord of the Zvolen Castle had it built for his court joker who saved his life while hunting. The task of the Šášov Castle was to guard the trade road and to collect toll. It became royal property in the 14th century and part of the dowry of the royal wives. In 1490 the family of Dó ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Žiar nad Hronom, Slovakia

Bzovík Castle Ruins

Bzovík castle structure originated by reconstruction of the Cistercian Abbey founded around 1130. Several decades later the Premonstratesian provostship moved here and became the largest feudal estate in the region of Hont. Its fort was repeatedly destroyed in the 15th century. In 1530 it ended up in hands of Sigismund Balassa who drove out the monks and had the Romanesque monastery reconstructed to the Gothic-Ren ...
Founded: 1530 | Location: Krupina District, Slovakia

Holumnica Castle Ruins

The village of Holumnica was first mentioned in 1293 and was known for cloth production in the 17th century. Due to lack of historical research, it is not clear which of the stately families (Berzeviczy, Ujhazy, or Görgey) built their castle on the village, but it is estimated to 15th or 16th century. The castle was built in Gothic-Renaissance style and it was inhabited until in 17th century when a mansion in the cen ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Holumnica, Slovakia

Starhrad Castle Ruins

Starhrad castle was built to protect the old road leading Povazie and it was first mentioned in 1267. The oldest part of the castle was the tower. In the 14th century the castle was in royal hands and some houses and farm buildings were built. Since 1443 it belonged mostly to the Pongracovce family. In the 16th century Starhrad was abandoned and left to decay. By the beginning of the 18th century there lived only guards. ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Strečno, Slovakia

Murán Castle Ruins

Muráň Castle is noteworthy for its unusually high altitude of 935 m. It also figures in several romantic legends about its remarkable owners. Muráň Castle was built in the 13th century on a cliff overlooking a regional trade route. Its name was mentioned for the first time in 1271. One of its owners, the robber baron Matúš Bašo, transformed the castle into a stronghold of band ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Muráň, Slovakia

Ostrý Kamen Castle Ruins

North of Smolenice is the village Buková with water reservoir and a marked route, which leads southward to the romantic ruins of the Castle Ostrý Kameň from the 13th century. The Castle was a royal border fort guarding the Czech road in the past. It is in decay since the 18th century though part of its walls, bastion, and adjacent buildings are still observable. The top of the Castle provides a nice vie ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Buková, 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.