The Ľupča castle is the highest located castle building in the Hron area (Pohronie). The castle is built on the north side of a relatively narrow fold of the Hron which is closed by the slopes of the Slovak Ore Mountains from the south and by the slopes of the Low Tatras from the north. The oldest part of the castle is built on the isolated rock on the last hill of the Low Tatras jag with an altitude of 375m above sea level.
After the plundering invasion of the Tatars in 1241 only the stone architecture fortresses withstood the invaders. Therefore Béla IV of Hungary decided to build defensive structures and castles in the middle of the 13th century. The Ľupča castle was one of them. According to preserved written reports the castle was built on an important medieval road called Via Magna and served as a checkpoint on the road from Banská Bystrica to Brezno. In 1255 the castle was mentioned in conjunction with the letters patent for the town Banská Bystrica, chartered by Béla IV in the Ľupča castle. The castle and the extramural monastery were important centres in that time. This was demonstrated by the dispute cause between Béla IV and his son Stephen V of Hungary. The cause was settled in the castle on 3 August 1263 with attendance of highly placed city dignitaries and clergy, to whom belonged also the Ľupča monastery principal, guardian Thomas.
The 13th century was characterised by patronage of the monarchy to the castle. This was confirmed by frequent visits of monarchs associated with game hunting in the surrounding forests. The Ľupča caste became a temporary residence of the Hungarian kings, including Béla IV in 1258, 1263, 1265 and from 1267 till 1269. After his death his successor Stephen V visited the castle only twice, as it is reported in documents, in August 1270 and one year later when he confirmed the privilege to comes Ondrej (vogt of Banská Bystrica) for possession of part of the land.
After the short period of rule of Stephen V, Ladislaus IV of Hungary mounted the throne. His mother Elizabeth the Cuman ruled during his infancy. She visited the castle for the first time in 1274. When Ladislaus IV was recognised as an adult, he visited the castle in 1278 and granted Poniky land to master Filip for his services in the battle on the Marchfeld against the Czech monarch Ottokar II of Bohemia.
When the Arpad family died out with the passing of Andrew III of Hungary, the owners of the castle changed frequently. As a royal castle it was often devolved by conquests to the hands of noblemen who did not respect the royal sovereignty. In that period the castle history is connected with the name of the last district mayor of the Zólyom County, magister knight Donč. His close relationships with Ľupča were well deocumented in the papal memorandum of 1323 where Pope John XXII allowed Donč to be buried in the crypt of the church in Ľupča together with his ancestors. From this memorandum it is also known that not only Zvolen but also Ľupča was a final resting place of Zvolen"s county mayors. During 1315-1335 Donč also constructed the stone monastery to the above-mentioned church, the presentday church (one-aisle building) of Zvolenská Ľupča (now Slovenská Ľupča).
In the 14th century the castle was alternatively the residence of the Hungarian kings. Charles I of Hungary who visited the castle in November 1310 and 1340 confirmed the municipal privileges for Zvolenská Ľupča. Visits of his successor Louis I of Hungary were more frequent. This is shown in the documents issued in the Ľupča castle in that period (1348, 1358, 1360 and 1361). In 1367 Louis I signed a document for Pavol Sclavius in the castle to invite colonists to the village Hronec. Sclavius would become the prefect of the new village. During 1369-1382 Louis I dwelled in the Ľupča castle, what is documented in the charter from 1379 promoting village Ľubietová to a town. In 1380 Louis I granted Brezno"s guests the 'Siavnica right', marked the chotar and allowed the free vote for mayor and priest. After one year the Brezno"s representatives visited king Louis I in Ľupča castle again to ask for confirmation of their rights by the royal charter.
In 1620 the castle became property of the Széchy family. Marrying with Mária Széchy, Juraj Wesselényi, the Hungarian paladin, won the castle.
In spite of the fact that the leader of the Rebellion of Estates against the Habsburg ruler used it as his residence, the Emperors anger did not affect the castle itself. It survived in good condition until the modern times.
The State owned in the 19th century and used it for orphanage since 1873. Later the female religious order occupied it and during the Slovak National Uprising in the Second World War the Nazis converted the castle into a prison for rebels. Today the castle is open to the public.References:
Pembroke Castle is a Norman castle, founded in 1093. It survived many changes of ownership and is now the largest privately owned castle in Wales. It was the birthplace of Henry Tudor (later Henry VII of England) in 1457.
Pembroke Castle stands on a site that has been occupied at least since the Roman period. Roger de Montgomerie, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury founded the first castle here in the 11th century. Although only made from earth and wood, Pembroke Castle resisted several Welsh attacks and sieges over the next 30 years. The castle was established at the heart of the Norman-controlled lands of southwest Wales.
When William Rufus died, Arnulf de Montgomery joined his elder brother, Robert of Bellême, in rebellion against Henry I, William's brother and successor as king; when the rebellion failed, he was forced to forfeit all his British lands and titles. Henry appointed his castellan, but when the chosen ally turned out to be incompetent, the King reappointed Gerald in 1102. By 1138 King Stephen had given Pembroke Castle to Gilbert de Clare who used it as an important base in the Norman invasion of Ireland.
In August 1189 Richard I arranged the marriage of Isabel, de Clare's granddaughter, to William Marshal who received both the castle and the title, Earl of Pembroke. He had the castle rebuilt in stone and established the great keep at the same time. Marshal was succeeded in turn by each of his five sons. His third son, Gilbert Marshal, was responsible for enlarging and further strengthening the castle between 1234 and 1241.
Later de Valence family held Pembroke for 70 years. During this time, the town was fortified with defensive walls, three main gates and a postern. Pembroke Castle became de Valence's military base for fighting the Welsh princes during the conquest of North Wales by Edward I between 1277 and 1295.
Pembroke Castle then reverted to the crown. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the castle was a place of peace until the outbreak of the English Civil War. Although most of South Wales sided with the King, Pembroke declared for Parliament. It was besieged by Royalist troops but was saved after Parliamentary reinforcements arrived by sea from nearby Milford Haven. Parliamentary forces then went on to capture the Royalist castles of Tenby, Haverfordwest and Carew.
In 1648, at the beginning of the Second Civil War, Pembroke's commander Colonel John Poyer led a Royalist uprising. Oliver Cromwell came to Pembroke on 24 May 1648 and took the castle after a seven-week siege. Its three leaders were found guilty of treason and Cromwell ordered the castle to be destroyed. Townspeople were even encouraged to disassemble the fortress and re-use its stone for their purposes.
The castle was then abandoned and allowed to decay. It remained in ruins until 1880, when a three-year restoration project was undertaken. Nothing further was done until 1928, when Major-General Sir Ivor Philipps acquired the castle and began an extensive restoration of the castle's walls, gatehouses, and towers. After his death, a trust was set up for the castle, jointly managed by the Philipps family and Pembroke town council.
The castle is sited on a strategic rocky promontory by the Milford Haven Waterway. The first fortification on the site was a Norman motte-and-bailey. It had earthen ramparts and a timber palisade.
In 1189, Pembroke Castle was acquired by William Marshal. He soon became Lord Marshal of England, and set about turning the earth and wood fort into an impressive Norman stone castle. The inner ward, which was constructed first, contains the huge round keep with its domed roof. Its original first-floor entrance was through an external stairwell. Inside, a spiral staircase connected its four stories. The keep's domed roof also has several putlog holes that supported a wooden fighting-platform. If the castle was attacked, the hoarding allowed defenders to go out beyond the keep's massive walls above the heads of the attackers.
The inner ward's curtain wall had a large horseshoe-shaped gateway. But only a thin wall was required along the promontory. This section of the wall has a small observation turret and a square stone platform. Domestic buildings including William Marshal's Great Hall and private apartments were within the inner ward. The 13th century keep is 23 metres tall with walls up to 6 metres thick at its base.
In the late 13th century, additional buildings were added to the inner ward, including a new Great Hall. A 55-step spiral staircase was also created that led down to a large limestone cave, known as Wogan Cavern, beneath the castle. The cave, which was created by natural water erosion, was fortified with a wall, a barred gateway and arrowslits. It may have served as a boathouse or a sallyport to the river where cargo or people could have been transferred.
The outer ward was defended by a large twin-towered gatehouse, a barbican and several round towers. The outer wall is 5 metres thick in places and constructed from Siltstone ashlar.
Although Pembroke Castle is a Norman-style enclosure castle with great keep, it can be more accurately described as a linear fortification because, like the later 13th-century castles at Caernarfon and Conwy, it was built on a rocky promontory surrounded by water. This meant that attacking forces could only assault on a narrow front. Architecturally, Pembroke's thickest walls and towers are all concentrated on its landward side facing the town, with Pembroke River providing a natural defense around the rest of its perimeter.