Medieval castles in 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

Biely Kamen Castle Ruins

Above Svätý Jur there are the ruins of the Biely Kameň Castle, which was probably built in the 13th century. It was the seat of the estate of Svätý Jur until the beginning of the 17th century. The Ottoman troops destroyed it in the 1663 and it was never restored. Some parts of walls, window openings, etc. of the castle survive.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Svätý Jur, Slovakia

Topolcany Castle Ruins

Topoľčany Castle"s construction at the beginning of the 14th century is attributed to Máté Csák. During the 'gallant” Hussite crusades the castle became a temporary Hussite stronghold. The castle often changed hands, and temporarily belonged to the Forgách Dynasty. The castle’s final owners abandoned it in the late 18th century, but its charm has remained to the present da ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Topoľčany, 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

Revište Castle Ruins

The ruins of the Revište Castle near Hliník nad Hronom stand on top of steep rock about 100 m above the floodplain of the river Hron. There is a wonderful meadow below the castle used by canoeist as a camping site. The castle was built in the 13th century as part of protection to central Slovakian mining towns and the trade route running along the Hron. Renaissance fortifications were added to the older Got ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Žarnovica, Slovakia

Blatnica Castle Ruins

Blatnica castle was built in the 13th century to protect a major trade route running from Nitra to the north. Soon afterwards it became a royal castle but the kings lost their interest in the castle"s development after a new route, through Mošovce and Martin was built. The new owners of Blatnica Castle, the Révay family (from 1540), were more generous and the castle was significantly extended in the sec ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Blatnica, Slovakia

Jasenov Castle Ruins

At the turn of the 13th and 14th centuries Jasenov castle belonged to the noble man Peter from Bačkov. He was formerly an ally of the king, Charles Robert, during the period of struggle with the family of Omodejs (of the Abov county). Later, because Peter turned agains the king and tried to murder him, his property was thus entirely confiscated and in 1317 most of it given to the faithful Philip Drugeth. Since then i ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Jasenov, Slovakia

Markušovce Castle Ruins

The castle of Markušovce dates from 1284, but was not used after a fire in 1773.
Founded: 1284 | Location: Markušovce, Slovakia

Zborov Castle Ruins

Zborov castle was built in the 14th century as a strongpoint defending the northern frontier of the Kingdom of Hungary and guardeda commercial route to Poland. The first written account of the castle dates from 1347. The original gothic castle was composed of a courtyard and was embattled by a defensive wall and atower. It also sported apalace with a chapel. Between the fourteenth andthe middle of the sixteenth century th ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Zborov, Slovakia

Pustý Castle Ruins

Pustý hrad is a castle whose ruins are located on a forested hill. With an area of 76,000 m² it is arguably one of the largest medieval castles in Europe. The original name was Zvolen Castle or Old Zvolen; Pustý hrad (meaning 'deserted castle') is a much later name used to distinguish the ruin from the present-day Zvolen Castle. Pustý hrad consists of two parts, the Upper Castle and the ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Zvolen, Slovakia

Dobrá Voda Castle Ruins

The Dobrá Voda castle was built on the site of an earlier castle in the first quarter of 13th century in the mountainous terrain on one of the roads that cross the crest of a small Carpathian Mountains. It was first time mentioned in 1263. In ancient times, the castle formed an elongated structure of the palace, which was close to both sides of the four-sided tower, a palace located on the southeast side of the ass ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Dobrá Voda, Slovakia

Brekov Castle Ruins

Brekov Castle was built in the the 13th century on the site of an older fort from the Great Moravian period. In time of the Rebellion of Estates in the 17th century, one or another fighting party repeatedly damaged it. It decayed in the late 17th century and only part of its walls and some domes survive.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Brekov, Slovakia

Povazský Castle Ruins

Považský is a ruin of medieval castle on the right side of the river Váh, built on a cliff 497 meters above sea level. It was one of the most important castles guarding the valley of the river Váh. The first settlement of the castle cliff is dated to Púchov culture, also a Celtic coin was found on the hill. The exact year of establishment of the Bistrizza castle is not known, but it is assumed ...
Founded: c. 1128 | Location: Považská Bystrica, Slovakia

Sitno Castle Ruins

Sitno castle was built in the 13th century on the site of a primeval fortified castle. It has been in ruins since the 18th century. It is located in to the Sitno, the tallest mountain of the Štiavnické vrchy Mts., (1,009 m). The restored view tower from 1727 is now available to hikers.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Banská Štiavnica, 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

Tematín Castle Ruins

Tematín Castle was originally built in the second half of the 13th century in the Kingdom of Hungary. It was completely reconstructed by the Thurzó family, owners of the castle from 1524. The last owner was Miklós Bercsényi, general of the anti-Habsburg insurrection army during Rákóczi"s War of Independence. The castle fell into ruins after it was besieged in 1710 as a part o ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Nové Mesto nad Váhom, Slovakia

Sklabina Castle Ruins

The Castle of Sklabiňa was first mentioned in 1242. After 1320, it became the seat of the county administration of Turiec. In 1630, the family of Révay had it adapted and a Renaissance manor house built in its courtyard. It was also fortified then. It remained the seat of the county administration until the mid-18th century. The Renaissance manor house survived until the Second World War. After it burnt in 19 ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Martin, 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

Likava Castle Ruins

Likava Castle (Likavský hrad) was referred to for the first time in 1315. Its construction started with the intention to have a guarding point over the passage across the river Váh and the trade route from the Váh Basin to Orava and further to Poland. The castle owners, the noble family of Hunyady, gradually reconstructed and widened the core of the Castle and built the part called the lower castle in the second half ...
Founded: c. 1315 | Location: Likavka, Slovakia

Zniev Castle Ruins

Although the first written mention of the Zniev or Turiec Castle (castrum Turuc) is from 1243, archaeological excavations prove the existence of a fortified settlement as early as the 11th – 12th century. According to a document issued in 1253 by King Bela IV the castle was refortified by Ondrej Forgáč, who apart from other loyal deeds managed to save king´s life after the defeat of the royal army ...
Founded: 1243 | Location: Kláštor pod Znievom, Slovakia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Royal Palace of Aranjuez

Palacio Real de Aranjuez is a former Spanish royal residence. It was established around the time Philip II of Spain moved the capital from Toledo to Madrid. Aranjuez became one of four seasonal seats of government, occupied during the springtime (from about holy week). Thereafter, the court moved successively to Rascafría, El Escorial and wintered in Madrid. Aranjuez Cultural Landscape is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After the Christian conquest, Aranjuez was owned by the Order of Santiago and a palace was built for its Grand Masters where the Royal Palace stands today. When the Catholic Monarchs assumed the office of Grand Master of the Order of Santiago, Aranjuez became part of the Royal estate. This fertile land, located between the Tajo and Jarama Rivers, was converted into the Spanish monarchy's most lavish country retreat: during Spain's Golden Age, Aranjuez became a symbol for the perfection of nature by mortal hands, as El Escorial was for art.

Such excellence was based on strong Renaissance foundations, as Charles V envisaged this inherited estate as a large Italian-inspired villa, a desire continued by Philip II who appointed Juan Bautista de Toledo to design leafy avenues that ran through the gardens and farming land. A series of dams was constructed in the 16th century to control the course of the Tajo River and create a network of irrigation canals.

The splendour of the estate was only enhanced by the Bourbon monarchs, who would spend the whole spring, from Easter to July, at the Palace. Phillip V added new gardens and Ferdinand VI designed a new system of tree-lined streets and created a small village within the estate, which was further developed by Charles III and Charles IV. As Ferdinand VII and Isabella II continued to visit Aranjuez during the spring, the splendour of this site was maintained until 1870.

The Royal Palace, built by Phillip II on the site of the old palace of the Grand Masters of Santiago, was designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo –under whom construction began in 1564– and later Juan Herrera, who only managed to finish half the project. Although glimpses of the original layout still remain, the building itself is more characteristic of the classicism favoured by the Hapsburg monarchs, with alternating white stone and brick. The original design was continued by Phillip V in 1715 but not finished until 1752 under Ferdinand VI. The rectangular layout that Juan Bautista de Toledo had planned, and that took two centuries to complete, was only maintained for 20 years, since in 1775 Charles III added two wings onto the Palace.

Real Casa del Labrador

As the Prince of Asturias, Charles IV was a frequent visitor to the pier pavilions built by Ferdinand VI and grew up playing in the Prince’s Garden. When he became King, he decided to build a new country house at the far end of these gardens, known as the Casa del Labrador (the labourer's house) due to its modest exterior that was designed to heavily contrast the magnificent internal decor. It was built by chief architect Juan de Villanueva and his pupil Isidro González Velázquez, who designed some of the interior spaces. These rooms, developed in various stages until 1808, are the greatest example of the lavish interior decor favoured by this monarch in his palaces and country retreats. Highlights at this Site include the combination of different types of art and the luxurious textiles, in particular the silks from Lyon, as well as wealth of original works on the main floor, where Ferdinand VII added various paintings and landscapes by Brambilla.

King's Garden, the Island Garden, Parterre Garden and the Prince's Garden

Phillip II, a great lover of gardens, paid special attention to this feature of the Aranjuez Palace: during his reign, he maintained both the Island Garden, designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo, and the King's Garden, immediately adjacent to the Palace and whose current layout was designed by Philip IV. The majority of the fountains on this island were commissioned by Phillip IV, while the Bourbons added other features such as the Charles III benches.

Phillip V made two French-style additions to the existing gardens: the Parterre Garden in front of the palace and the extension at the far end of the Island Garden, known as the Little Island, where he installed the Tritons Fountain that was later moved to the Campo del Moro park by Isabella II.

The Prince's Garden owes its name and creation to the son and heir of Charles III who, in the 1770s, began to use Ferdinand VI's old pier for his own enjoyment. He also created a landscaped garden in the Anglo-French style that was in fashion at the time and which was directly influenced by Marie Antoinette's gardens at the Petit Trianon. Both Juan de Villanueva and Pablo Boutelou collaborated in the design of this garden.