The first castle of Diósgyőr was built probably in the 12th century and was destroyed during the Mongol invasion (1241-42). The current, Gothic castle was built after the invasion and reached the peak of its importance during the reign of King Louis the Great (1342-1382). Later it became a wedding gift for the queens of Hungary, which it remained until the Ottoman invasion of Hungary in the 16th century. By the end of the 1600s it was already in ruins. Archaeological excavations started in the 1960s. In 2014 the castle was completely rebuilt, the reconstructed rooms are furnished with Mediaeval-style furniture.
The first castle was an earthwork and timber castle. The castle that stands today was probably built by King Béla IV, who, after the Mongols left the country, ordered a castle to be built on every hilltop. In the earliest times the castle was an oval structure with a rounded donjon, surrounded by a polygonal outer wall. In 1316 it was mentioned as 'new castle', which confirms the theory that it was built in place of a destroyed castle. Judging from a document listing the taxes paid by towns in 1330 it seems the town around the castle was one of the richest towns of the county.
The castle had its prime during the reign of Louis I (Louis the Great). Its importance lay in standing near the road leading to Poland (the mother of Louis the Great, Elizabeth Lokietkówna, was a Polish princess; Louis himself became King of Poland in 1370.) The king had the castle rebuilt and modernised. Surrounded by several walls, the inner castle was built around a rectangular courtyard, and it had four towers, one on each corner. On the first floor were the storerooms and on the second floor were the rooms and the Knights' Hall, which was 25 meters long and 13 meters wide. The modernising of the castle was finished under the reign of Louis' daughter Mary. The castle was surrounded by a 4 metre deep moat.
In 1364 the nearby town Miskolc was annexed to the Diósgyőr estate. In 1381 the Peace Treaty of Turin was signed in the castle of Diósgyőr. In the treaty the Italian town of Venice was compelled to raise the flag of the Anjou dynasty on the St. Mark square every Sunday. In the north-eastern tower of the castle there is a waxworks exhibition showing the wax figures of King Louis and the Venetian envoy.
Diósgyőr lost some of its importance when the personal union between Hungary and Poland ended (Louis shared the two countries between his two daughters Mary and Jadwiga.) For the next few centuries the castle was a holiday residence for queens. The last queen owning the castle was Maria, wife of Louis II. She gave up the castle formally in 1546 (by this time it had been occupied by the ruling prince of Transylvania.)
When the Ottoman army began to occupy the southern territories of Hungary, the castle was fortified. Its owners, the Gyarmati Balassa family turned it into a large fortress, and they had an Italian-style rondelle built to the north-western tower. The slim turrets were replaced by strong bastions. This was the last time the castle was rebuilt; after 1564 the owners changed frequently, and the castle slowly deteriorated. In 1596 the Ottoman army occupied the Castle of Eger and defeated the Christian army at Mezőkeresztes. The castle of Diósgyőr fell too; it was built to be a holiday residence and was never intended to be a large fortress that withstands the siege of a foreign army. From this time Diósgyőr was under Ottoman occupation and the area was ruled by the Pasha of Eger until 1687 when this part of the country was freed from Turkish rule. By this time the castle lost all of its military importance.References:
The first historical record of Lednice locality dates from 1222. At that time there stood a Gothic fort with courtyard, which was lent by Czech King Václav I to Austrian nobleman Sigfried Sirotek in 1249.
At the end of the 13th century the Liechtensteins, originally from Styria, became holders of all of Lednice and of nearby Mikulov. They gradually acquired land on both sides of the Moravian-Austrian border. Members of the family most often found fame in military service, during the Renaissance they expanded their estates through economic activity. From the middle of the 15th century members of the family occupied the highest offices in the land. However, the family’s position in Moravia really changed under the brothers Karel, Maximilian, and Gundakar of Liechtenstein. Through marriage Karel and Maximilian acquired the great wealth of the old Moravian dynasty of the Černohorskýs of Boskovice. At that time the brothers, like their father and grandfather, were Lutheran, but they soon converted to Catholicism, thus preparing the ground for their rise in politics. Particularly Karel, who served at the court of Emperor Rudolf II, became hetman of Moravia in 1608, and was later raised to princely status by King Matyas II and awarded the Duchy of Opava.
During the revolt of the Czech nobility he stood on the side of the Habsburgs, and took part in the Battle of White Mountain. After the uprising was defeated in 1620 he systematically acquired property confiscated from some of the rebels, and the Liechtensteins became the wealthiest family in Moravia, rising in status above the Žerotíns. Their enormous land holdings brought them great profits, and eventually allowed them to carry out their grandious building projects here in Lednice.
In the 16th century it was probably Hartmann II of Liechtenstein who had the old medieval water castle torn down and replaced with a Renaissance chateau. At the end of the 17th century the chateau was torn down and a Baroque palace was built, with an extensive formal garden, and a massive riding hall designed by Johann Bernard Fischer von Erlach that still stands in almost unaltered form.
In the mid-18th century the chateau was again renovated, and in 1815 its front tracts that had been part of the Baroque chateau were removed.
The chateau as it looks today dates from 1846-1858, when Prince Alois II decided that Vienna was not suitable for entertaining in the summer, and had Lednice rebuilt into a summer palace in the spirit of English Gothic. The hall on the ground floor would serve to entertain the European aristocracy at sumptuous banquets, and was furnished with carved wood ceilings, wooden panelling, and select furniture, surpassing anything of its kind in Europe.