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TOURISM from SK - Zemplín, Šariš, Spiš, Liptov, Orava, (region)
Castles in Slovakia the Spisz end Saris
By SK Pogranicze
Published: 20.07.2012

The ruins of Spis castle (Spišský hrad)

   On a lofty barren hill above the town (600 m above the sea level) there are majestic ruins of a mighty castle, an administrative capital of former Spiš - it is the Spiš castle. The ruins stretching on the area of around 4 hectares are the biggest castle complex in Middle Europe, and at the same time an example of a development of military architecture from the 12th century till the 17th century.

The castle overlooks a town called Spiskie Podhradie.
   The oldest written mention about the castle comes from 1120. The hill on which the Spiš Castle is situated was settled
already by the Celts.
    They had there their mint where silver coins were minted. Initially, the castle functioned as a fortress of an early feudal Hungary, later, for several centuries; it became a seat of a župan of Spiš, which means that the castle was a central point of the secular authority in Spiš.
   In 1221, the castle was surrounded by a stone wall. Supposedly, during the Tatars’ attack in 1241 inhabitants of Spiš hid there. The castle was not conquered; it resisted the Tatars’ attacks.
   A powerful, narrowing tower from the end of the 13th century is preserved. During wars and uprisings which touched Spiš, the castle was conquered twice - in the half of the 15th century by the Hussite army of Jan Jiskra, and in the 16th century by the army of the emperor Ferdinand I.
   In the second half of the 15th century a new owner, Štefan Zápoľský, who wanted to create a representative noble’s seat, rebuilt the castle. In the castle complex he built a palace, a knights’ hall and St. Elisabeth’s chapel.

His son, Jan, who later became the king of Hungary, was born in one of the castle’s rooms.
   The lordly families of Thurzó, Zapolya, again Thurzó, and from 1639 till 1945 Csáky, were in turn the owners of the fortress.
    In 1780, the castle complex was destroyed by a fire and the Spiš castle turned into ruin. The restorers, who in 1970 began the restoration of fortifications and palaces, did not allow the complete ravage to take place.
   A so called upper castle with a keep, a Roman palace, a fore-castle and fortifications from the 13th century are the oldest part of the building. Other Gothic and Renaissance buildings were added by next owners, župans of Spiš. In the era of anti-Habsburgian uprisings in the 17th century the castle became deserted.

Today, restorers work in the ruins.
   An exposition of the Spiš Museum referring to the history of the castle and medieval weapon is located in the castle.

    Apart from a labyrinth of stone recesses, one may also visit a small historical exhibition. Colorful events take place in the castle in summer. However, a panoramic view spreading from the ruins at the picturesque region with Spišská Kapitula in the West, white rocks of the sanctuary of travertine Drevenik in the South, and villages lurked in the green valley is the greatest attraction.
   A walking didactic path Sivá Brada - Dreveník leads through the neighborhood of the Spiš castle. At eight stopovers tourists can make themselves familiar with the history of the region and with the interesting facts about nature.
   From 1993 the castle is on a UNESCO World Heritage List.

translated by Joanna Hardukiewicz
photos granted by (vico, bo, zakapior)

The Lubovna castle (hrad Ľubovňa)

   The frontier castle of Stara Lubovna was built between 1301 - 1308 to project the Polish trade roads. First written reports are dated from the early 14th century. Between 1412 - 1772 the castle hosted Polish magistrates, administrators of the so-called Polish lien of King Sigismund of Luxemburg. After a fire in 1553 the castle was reconstructed in renaissance, later in baroque style but fell into disrepair after 1772. It was partly renewed by the Zamoysky family after 1883.
   Above the town’s district called Podsadek, on a calcareous rock 711 meters above the sea level there is a stone Lubovna castle. It was a part of a system of fortifications protecting the borders of the Hungarian Kingdom.
   Museum exhibitions presented inside were devoted to the history of the castle, its features and craft. Several reconstructed rooms from the former Lubomirscy palace constitute the most interesting part of the exhibition, and in the high bastion there is an exhibition devoted to the last private owners of the castle - the Zamoyski family. Furniture of the époque is presented in the baroque palace.

translated by JB

The castle museum.
- several castle interiors, courtyards, bastions and defensive walls are open for tourists. In the former entrance gate there is a lapidarium showing remnants of plaques and devices from the 14th to the 17th centuries.
    The yard with defensive bastions, apart from the exposition of guild marks from Lubovla, above all presents a beautiful view at the Poprad Valley and a remote Tatras range. A summary of the castle history accompanied by fragments of tower’s clocks and an original funeral flag is intelligibly presented in the watchtowers.
   A number of reconstructed rooms from the former Lubomirscy palace, including a room in which starosts met with mayors of the Spiš towns, an armoury, a lounge, a royal room and rooms used by the last owners of the castle - Jan and Izabela Zamoyscy are the most interesting pieces of the exposition. An apartment of  the castellan consisting of a vestibule, a kitchen, a lounge and a bedroom, decorated as if the occupants left for a while leaving all the equipment in place is also interesting and somehow touching.

The museum of folk architecture,
- an open-air museum is a separate exposition situated under the Lubovla Castle. It shows the relics of folk architecture and the way of living in Spiš and Szarysz regions.

   It is a huge majestic Rennaissance citadel, which rises above the Poprad valley. It was built at the beginning of the 14th century.
    Representatives of the great noble Hungarian (Omodej, Drugeth) and Polish (Kmitowie, Lubomirscy, Zamoyscy) families are the part of the castle history. For over 350 years the castle was a seat of the Polish starosts of a pledged part of Spi š. The Hungarian (Maria, Sigismund) and Polish (Vladislaus II Jagiello, John I Albert, John Casimir, John Sobieski) kings and queens visited the castle. In 1655-1661 Polish crown jewels were hidden in the Lubovla Castle. A main tower, made available for tourists after the repair in 2003, is the most precious building in the fortress.


photos granted by (vico, bo, zakapior)

About a funeral flag…
… there is a legend told in the Castle that in the 18th century Death started to appear at night on the castle walls. It could be expelled by no means. A certain Warsaw merchant, who probably knew a legend about the basilisk, advised to place mirrors at the walls. It did not help, because Death broke the mirrors and continued to haunt the castle. Fortunately, it showed itself to a skilled artist who accidentally stayed in the Castle. He successfully painted it the other day. The painting was sewed in a castle flag, which was hung out at the tower and lit up with torches. Death was scared by its own image and ran away from the castle. Since that time, the flag was used to scare away death – for example during the plague or during the siege of the castle…

Another legend - about wooden soldiers,
- is reminded in the castle chapel under the invocation of the knights’ patron, Archangel Michael…
… it probably took place at the New Year’s night in 1720. Two soldiers mounted guard. Because winter was severe, and they did not expect any check during the New Year’s night they hid themselves in a watchtower and sat next to the fireplace. They took off their skin coats and fell asleep. At this time, the castellan left his guests and found the soundly sleeping soldiers. He got very angry and cursed both soldiers, who changed into wooden effigies. As the punishment, their ghosts mount guard in the castle till today…

translated by Joanna Hardukiewicz

photos granted by VICO, (bo, zakapior)

... photo...

... widok ze Starej Lubovny na Tatry - (photo zakapior)

Trenčiansky hrad - photo Frantisek













Spišská Nová Ves

Stará Ľubovňa



Liptovský Mikuláš


Dolný Kubín