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 and fortified since the Bronze and Iron Age.

Devín castle likely is first mentioned in written sources in 864, when Louis the German besieged Prince Rastislav in one of the frequent wars between the Franks and Great Moravia respectively in the 'castle of Dowina'. During the Moravian period, a Christian church had been built in the complex.

In the 13th century, a stone castle was built to protect the western frontier of the Hungarian Kingdom whose existence was documented in 1271 and a reference to a castelanus de Devin appeared in 1326. Between 1301 and 1323, the castle was held by the Dukes of Austria who granted it to Otto von Tellesbrunn. In 1323, the dukes transferred Pozsony county back to King Charles I of Hungary and Devín Castle became the possession of the heads (ispáns) of the county. In 1385, the castle was occupied by Margrave Jobst of Moravia who held it until 1390 when King Sigismund of Hungary redeemed it and gave it to duke Stibor of Stiboricz. After that, the king mortgaged Devín Castle to an Austrian knight, Lessel Hering who transferred the castle to Nicholas II Garay (the Palatine of the kingdom) in 1414. Around 1444, King Frederick IV of Germany occupied the castle but he granted it to Ladislaus II Garay already in 1450.

A palace was added in the 15th century. Fortification was reinforced during wars against the Ottoman Empire. The Castle was never taken, but after the Hungarian Kingdom joined the Habsburg Monarchy and the Ottomans were finally defeated, it ceased to be an important border fortress and was no longer used by the military. Stephen Báthory got the castle by the king as a donation. But according to Stephen Báthory was Keglević the owner of the castle. Keglević pawned the castle for 40,000 guilders to the Palocsai family and spent the money. In 1609, Matthias II confirmed that Keglević still was the owner of the castle, but Keglević did not have the money to take the castle out of pledge from the Palocsai family. Nearly 100 years later in 1635 Palatine Pál Pálffy took the castle out of pledge from the Palocsai family. The last owners of the Devín Castle were the Counts of the Pálffy family. Only in 1809, after the Siege of Pressburg, was the castle (still considered a threat) destroyed by the retreating forces of Napoleon I of France. Napoleon and Leopold Pálffy negotiated then and they both agreed that Vienna is supplied with products by Pálffy.

Since the 19th century as its history inspired several Romantic poets, followers of Ľudovít Štúr, Devín has become an important national symbol for the Slovaks. It featured both on the reverse of the former 500 Czechoslovak koruna banknote and the 50 Halierov coin of the Slovak currency.

The castle stands just inside Slovak territory on the frontier between Slovakia (previously part of Czechoslovakia) and Austria. The border runs from west to east along the Morava River and subsequently the Danube. Prior to 1989, the Iron Curtain between the Eastern Bloc and the West ran just in front of the castle. Although the castle was open to the public, the area surrounding it constituted a restricted military zone, and was heavily fortified with watchtowers and barbed wire. After the Velvet Revolution the area was demilitarised.

The most photogenic part of the castle is the tiny watchtower, known as the Maiden Tower. Separated from the main castle, it balances perilously on a lone rock and has spawned countless legends concerning imprisoned lovelorn daughters leaping to their deaths.

Inside, the castle is a sprawling landscape of walls, staircases, open courtyards and gardens in various states of repair. They are all, however, made readily accessible by a continuing restoration and archaeological project conducted since the borough of Devín was reclaimed from Nazi Germany which had annexed it shortly before World War II.

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Founded: 9th century AD
Category: Castles and fortifications in Slovakia

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User Reviews

Juraj Spican (2 years ago)
Wonderful surroundings and views. There can be observed the confluence of the Danube river and the Moravia river directly from the castle's hill. It's a nice place for excursions.
Edda Booth (2 years ago)
Such a beautiful old ruins castle close to Bratislava, right near the river Danube. The view from the top is very lovely across the river and the hills. It is a very relaxing place to spend a day out, as it is not crowded with thousands of tourists. At the bottom of the castle there are a few restaurants, where traditional food is available. Make sure that you do not park your car where parking is prohibited, as the area is constantly checked by the Police, who clamp all the cars, even if you are a foreigner. It took us two hours to get our cars back, we were two families with small children visiting the site in British numberplated cars. Not speaking Slovakian made things worse, but we luckily found a kind person who could speak to the Police on our behalf. The whole experience ruined the day, and the way the Slovakian Police acted was shambolic. There were no visible well posted signs that said that the parking was not allowed where we parked near the river, but we made some checks, and we found a tiny sign at the very beginning of that long street along the river, which was partially covered by some overgrown bushes. So be aware of the regulations and laws, otherwise you will end up paying a hefty price for your mistakes. €50 per car... it is not how one would imagine ending a great day out!
Peter Sawyer (2 years ago)
Devín castle is an easy bus ride from Bratislava and is a peaceful half day out. The remains of the castle offer amazing views on a clear day and made for a great day out on a nice warm summers day. The walk to the top wasn’t too hard work if you struggling with walking there was a few nice bars at the bottom as well. There was the option of getting a boat back to the city but we decided to catch the much cheaper bus again.
Sandhya Venkat (2 years ago)
A beautiful place to be to.. very calming and photographic.. the view from the top of the Danube during sunset was a divine experience.. a must go spot for photographers.. silhouette pictures are worth it.. an autumn or winter visit is a good idea since sunset will happen before castle closing time!!
Hari Kakarla (2 years ago)
Beautiful castle and great history attached to it. Ample parking if your driving or if you are getting the bus to the castle, it's not that far of a walk Great views from the courtyard of the castle onto the Danube River. There are signs in front of pieces of interest written in both Slovak and English which give history about the piece. Be careful with the ticket office, there is a sign next to the ticket booth, which has in small writing that the main castle is closed. I missed this on the way up the day I visited and was disappointed when I got up to the courtyard to find the main part was closed.
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