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.

References:

Comments

Your name



Details

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

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Matt Smith (7 months ago)
A beautiful castle. Free entry because a lot of it is closed off. If they can renovate this to its former glory it would be one of the best in Europe.
Andy Schwarz (9 months ago)
Although the upper castle is going through a major reconstruction, the grounds provide a nice walk with beautiful scenery and castle views. Tickets are half price because the upper part of the castle is closed. The 10 minute walk up the road is easy, or one can take a shortcut the appeared to be steep to reach the castle entrance.
Fabian Jöbstl (10 months ago)
What a beautiful castel. Currently uper castle is sadly closed, only middle and lower castle open, but still very impressive, also reduced ticket prices and free audio guide. If you arrive by bus follow the signs from the main square, the fastest and best way by foot is past the courtyard. By car there are two different parking lots. Definitely go up the hill next to the closer parking lot, from there magnificent view on the whole castle from the east.
Noémi Jánvári (10 months ago)
One of the largest castles in Central Europe ? Stands beautifully on the hill. Unfortunately at this time you can’t visit the upper (and the biggest) part of the castle due to ongoing renovations. Hence the entry fee is half price. But you can walk around on the surrounding walls and the massive garden. You can also watch a few minutes of VR video for 50 cents. It’s worth it. I’m looking forward to return when the renovations are complete.
Lukasz De (10 months ago)
Castle is huge. In My opinion it looks best from outside. At least currently as the most interesting upper part inside is closed due to renovation and hence the tickets are at 50% discount. The castle is very easily accessible by car. You can come with dog as well. Inside well equipped bar.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Mingarry Castle Ruins

Mingarry Castle was considered a strategically important site in terms of communication with overseas areas and as an entranceway to the Sound of Mull. Originally built in the 13th century for the Clan MacDonald of Ardnamurchan, the castle has had many different occupants. King James IV of Scotland used it as a stronghold for fighting off Clan Donald in the late 15th century. In 1515 the castle was besieged by the Clan MacDonald of Lochalsh and again two years later when they finally took the castle.

In 1588 the chief of the Clan MacLean of Duart resided there after capturing the chief of the Clan MacIan of Ardnamurchan. In 1588, one of the ships of the Spanish Armada, named the San Juan de Sicilia, landed on Mull and MacLean of Duart used troops from the ship to aid him in his warring against the MacDonalds of Clanranald and the MacIans of Ardnamurchan.