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 the Kingdom of Hungary. Before 1464, it was owned by the kings of Hungary, afterwards (until 1528) by the Zápolya family, the Thurzó family (1531–1635), the Csáky family (1638–1945), аnd (since 1945) by the state of Czechoslovakia then Slovakia.

Originally a Romanesque stone castle with fortifications, a two-story Romanesque palace and a three-nave Romanesque-Gothic basilica were constructed by the second half of the 13th century. A second extramural settlement was built in the 14th century, by which the castle area was doubled. The castle was completely rebuilt in the 15th century; the castle walls were heightened and a third extramural settlement was constructed. A late Gothic chapel was added around 1470. The Zápolya clan performed late Gothic transformations, which made the upper castle into a comfortable family residence, typical of late Renaissance residences of the 16th and 17th centuries. The last owners of the Spiš Castle, the Csáky family, abandoned the castle in the early 18th century because they considered it too uncomfortable to live in. They moved to the newly built nearby village castles/palaces in Hodkovce near Žehra and Spišský Hrhov.

In 1780, the castle burned down. It is not known how it burned down, but there are a few theories. One is that the Csáky family purposely burned it down to reduce taxes (no roofs back then meant no taxes). Another is that it was stuck by lightning, which started the fire. A third is that some soldiers there were making moonshine and managed to burn the castle. Whatever the case, after the fire, the castle was no longer occupied and began to fall into disrepair. The castle was partly reconstructed in the second half of the 20th century, and extensive archaeological research was carried out on the site. The reconstructed sections house displays of the Spiš Museum and things inside it, such as torture devices used in the castle.

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Founded: 12th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Slovakia

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User Reviews

Kim Usher (2 months ago)
Amazing castle That you can see from everywhere in the surrounding valley. We spend an hour or more inside. The entrance cost 8€ per person. You can climb to the top of the tower but be careful from the flying ants on the last floor.. This is no joke ??? The view from most of the castle is amazing and walking on the walls is very nice as well. If you have some patience and you like animals there is plenty of ground squirrels on the grass.
Ylvie (3 months ago)
Absolutely stunning and impressive. If you come in the afternoon, check the parking lot at the top of the road first, we didn't and arrived at the castle puffing and wheezing because we parked down the street, lol. Great view from the top of the tower (1€ extra fee but worth it).
Tim Husain (3 months ago)
Although it's mostly in ruins, still a lovely place to visit. You can see the sheer size of the place was massive. Great views from the top. Worth installing the app to learn about its history and understand all the different buildings. Great views of Tatras from the top.
Thomas van Zeijl (4 months ago)
Driving on the highway, this castle is an imposing landmark. When walking along its ruins, you get a great feeling of atmosphere. Paying a little extra to climb the main tower is definitely encouraged, as the view is absolutely stunning.
Dominika Kisova (4 months ago)
Its a beautiful castle. There is so much to see so prepare to spend there even half a day. It is really worth it to pay 1eur extra for the castle tower, even though its a bit crowded, because there are wonderful 360° views from the top. Parking was full, but there was no problem to park on the side of the road to the castle. Enjoy.
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