Medieval castles in Slovakia

Oponice Castle Ruins

Oponice Castle was probably built in the second half of the 13th century by son Peter from the Csák clan. The castle was first mentioned in 1300 as 'Oponh'. Until the death of Máte Csák of Trencsén in 1321, Oponice Castle guarded part of his wide domain in the central Nitra area. The castle was later administered by the royal exchequer until it was passed in 1392 into the hereditary p ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Oponice, Slovakia

Blh Castle Ruins

Blh (Velky Blh) castle was built in the 13th century. In 1323 it was renovated in the Gothic style and in 1483 it was extended and fortifications were added. It played an important role at the times of Turkish invasion. It was destroyed in 18th century.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Veľký Blh, 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

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

Divín Castle Ruins

Ruins of the medieval Divín Castle can be seen above the village. The castle was built by the end of the 13th century and it played an important role as an anti-Turkish fort in the 16th century. Its ill-famed owner Imrich Balassa, robber knight seated here in the 17th century and undertook assaults in its environs. After his death, the Castle was conquered by the Imperial troops in 1683 and fell in decay. Only part ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Divín, 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

Hajnácka Castle Ruins

Hajnáčka castle was built in the Gothic style against the Mongol invasion in the mid-1200s. Later, in the mid-15th century, the construction was finished. Hajnáčka was the seat of important feudal lords. In 1545 the castle was besieged and conquered by Ottomans. At the end of the 16th century and the first third of the 17th century castle was an important part of the anti-Turkish defensive line. Ne ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Hajnácka, Slovakia

Hodejov Castle Ruins

Hodejov castle was built in 13th century and destroyed by Osmans in 1571. Today only some ruins remain.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Hodejov, Slovakia

Ilava Castle

Ilavský castle dates from the turn of the 11th - 12th century. It was probably founded by Knights Templars and later it served as a monastery. The first document of the castle dates from 1446. The state administration established a state prison in the castle, which, in a new form, has remained there until the present day. There was also a concentration camp during World War II.
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Ilava, 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

Lednica Castle Ruins

Lednica castle ruins stand on the picturesque Lednické bralo rock. The site is perhaps the most inaccessible one among the castles in Slovakia. The castle was built at the end of the 13th century and it was the seat of the Lednice estate. Imperial troops destroyed it at the beginning of the 18th century. Only the remains of walls survive. The legend says that the spirit of the beautiful lady of the castle Katarína walk ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Lednica, Slovakia

Liptov Castle Ruins

Liptov castle is the highest situated castle in Slovakia, located in the height of 993 metres. The first written record about the Liptov castle comes from 1262. Liptov castle was a royal castle in the past and its duty was to protect the borders of the country. Now you can admire the beauty of Liptov from there, but also rich archeological exposition in the nature.
Founded: 1262 | Location: Ružomberok, 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

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

Sulov Castle Ruins

Súľov Castle was built in first third of the 15th century. By it’s size, the castle was very small. Its main function was to protect and watching near by road. After 1550 fire it was rebuilt to its original shape and size. In 1730 the castle heads military garrison. There used to be upper and lower castle. Heavy earthquake damage in 1763 accelerated its final destruction. Fortified formation was found in ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Bytča, Slovakia

Vrsatec Castle Ruins

The original Gothic Vršatec castle from the 13th century was destroyed in time of Rákoczis rebellion in 1706. The legend has that the castellan of this castle cut his leg in order to help his master to escape from the Tartar prison. The ruins provide an excellent view of the whole of central Považie and the valley of the Váh river with the mountains Súľovské and Strážovs ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Pruské, 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

Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.