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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4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Michal Cerny (4 months ago)
Really worth to visit, nice place. Free parking lot, free in the morning otherwise you will be parked along the route going up. Refreshment available, free toilets.
Peter Pažák (5 months ago)
UNESCO site, castle ruin under reconstruction, beautiful views. During nice days crowded with people who are a bit restrained by the reconstruction works. Exposition is a bit small, but interesting.
mhighlander75 (5 months ago)
Perfect place, majestic and beautiful. Every time I am here it is better. This year they introduced a free app with audioguide. All you need to do is to download it from Google Play and then enjoy the visit.
G R (6 months ago)
They are remodeling it but it's not a hindrance to fully enjoy it. It's huge castle. All the time I was wondering about all the things that happened there. I was often taking pictures of the views around on the top. Theres a small museum inside and they sell food.
Radovan Dvorský (6 months ago)
Perfect place to spend time with your family. Biggest castle ruins in central Europe, beautiful country, all services at hand, toilets, souvenir shop, restaurant... Many daily and nightly activities, theaters, concerts. Highly recommended...
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