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

Ryan V (4 months ago)
This historic castle sits atop a hill that overlooks a large valley on all sides, with mountains in the distance. The castle was being restored when I visited, but much of it was still open, and the price was heavily discounted. I walked the grounds and on top of the perimeter wall and was able to get many pictures of the beautiful surrounding landscape. I highly recommend a visit here. The kids loved it as well.
Charlie Wright (13 months ago)
Unfortunately half of the castle is closed for renovation and this was the main part of the fortress so presumably the more interesting part. The audio guide app took forever to download so we had already walked the lower part of the castle before it was ready. Most of the guide is for the areas of the castle you cannot see. Tickets are still full price at €8 per adult, which felt overpriced given the works. Fairly interesting otherwise.
Janusz Roginski (16 months ago)
It is UNESCO historical site with a spectacular medieval castle. It is situated on a hill. A large parking lot is at the feet of the hill. You need to climb along the way to the entrance to the castle. In the castle they offer a guided tour for 8 Euros. A shop and a bar are situated at the entrance. But at this time the tour is available only tor the lower part as the upper castle is being renovated.
Robyn Ann (17 months ago)
Sadly we arrived during renovations, a chance one take traveling off season. It was massive, and beautiful! Great workout ?
Magda Bekou (17 months ago)
A really marvellous piece of the Slovakian culture. The castle is very big but it was closed due to renovation. There is also a cafe located inside the castle. The parking is a bit further away from the entrance but it is a 5-10 monte hike. Pet friendly is always a bonus! The views are stunning especially during the spring.
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