Top 10 Castles To Visit In Slovakia

Slovakia has more than 300 castles, forts, fortified monasteries – some of them beautifully restored and the others that have fallen into ruins. You are never more than an hour away from a castle worth seeing.

 

1. Spiš

 

Spis is one of the largest castles in Central Europe and a truly impressive one. It was built in the 12th century and it became one of the symbols of Slovakia. Several movies like The Last Legion or Dragonheart were filmed here and the castle complex is on UNESCO´s World Heritage List among the most important monuments of the world. There are also many other beautiful locations worth a visit around the castle, for example, Spišská Kapitula that is called the ‘Vatican of Slovakia’. It is a beautiful site under the castle with gothic, baroque and Romanesque sacral architecture and houses. If you climb on the top of the castle you will get stunning views of the High Tatras mountains so it´s definitely worth the effort.

 

2. Bojnice

 

This romantic and picturesque castle is one of the oldest and the most visited monuments in Slovakia. The colorful and steep roofs, the beautiful chapel, towers and interesting pieces of furniture makes Bojnice a unique place. There is a natural travertine cave with two lakes under the castle that is opened for visitors and it is a part of the regular tour.  The surroundings of the castle are worth visiting as well – a beautiful park with the oldest tree in Slovakia and a cozy square full of restaurants and cute little shops. The best time for a visit is during the Festival of Ghosts and Phantoms when you can see the castle by night and the tour is full of surprises and scary legends and stories from the history of the castle.

 

3. Bratislava

 

The symbol of the capital standing above the old town is a popular choice for travelers visiting Bratislava. The castle itself is a huge rectangular building with four towers and it offers nice views on Danube river and the historical center of the city. It was first mentioned as a fortification in the 9th century but the present shape is a reconstruction from the 1950s. The Slovak National Museum is located inside the castle and there are both temporary and permanent exhibitions opened for the public. On the eastern side, you can find the remains of a basilica from the 11th century and other buildings from this era. The best way to get there is by walk from the beautiful St. Marten Cathedral passing the Jewish district of Bratislava with narrow streets and colorful houses.

 

4. Červený Kameň

 

A 13th-century well-preserved castle located just a few kilometers from Bratislava is a great choice for a one day trip if you want to escape the city buzz. Červený Kameň means ‘The Red Stone Castle’ and it got the name from the red rock on which the castle was built. It stands in the Carpathian mountains and several hiking paths start just in front of the castle. The building itself houses an impressive exhibition of furniture and it specializes in the development of the culture of noble and bourgeois in Slovakia.

 

5. Orava

 

The castle of Orava is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Slovakia. It was built from the 13th to 17th century and even though a massive fire destroyed it in the 18th century it is in a good shape now. The buildings of lower, central and upper castles connected with palaces, fortifications and towers make a beautiful complex with a romantic atmosphere. Inside you can visit an archeological exhibition, a collection of golden and silver coins, an exhibition of fauna and flora and an ethnological exhibition. Night visits with theatre performances and music events are becoming more and more popular. Not only the castle is nice but also the surrounding nature so you can easily spend the whole day here.

 

6. Devín

 

A popular getaway destination of the locals situated just 10 km from the city center of Bratislava, this castle stands on a massive cliff surrounded by beautiful natural scenery. If you walk to the upper castle and the weather conditions are good you can see till Vienna and the peak of Schneeberg (2075m) in the Alps. Performances of historic fencing are organized in the summer months and if you are in the mood you can also try throwing the ax or shooting a bow. The best way to get to Devín from Bratislava is by boat which will bring you to a little port just a few steps from the main entrance of the castle.

 

7. Nitra

 

The castle in the oldest Slovak town Nitra was built in the 11th century and it is the most significant sight of the city center. The castle consists of several parts – the Romanesque church of St. Emeram, Upper and Lower Churches, Gothic Bishops Palace, outer fortifications and a view tower. Nowadays the castle serves as the seat of the Bishop. Walking around the castle you can have a look at the courtyard and enjoy a beautiful view over the city.

 

8. Smolenice

 

The original castle was built in the 14th century and it worked as a guard building in the past. If you visit the castle now you can still see the original bastions of the old castle which are well preserved. The new castle though was designed in the early 20th century. Craftsmen from Italy, Germany, Austria, Hungary and surrounding communities participated in the construction and made a beautiful castle complex. Nowadays visitors can see the beautiful rooms of the castle like the red and blue lounge, the golden room or the castle library. The best part of the tour is the lookout tower from which you have a stunning view of the surroundings. The castle is open for public only in the summer months.

 

9. Trenčín

 

The castle of Trenčín visible from all directions dominates the town and the whole region of Považie. It was built on a limestone hill and served as a guard castle since the 11th century. Nowadays you can visit the castle every day except Monday and in the summer months, music events and performances of historical fencing are held here. Probably every child in Slovakia knows the 80m deep well located in front of the castle and the story about Omar and Fatima. The story says that the lord of the castle kidnapped the beautiful Turkish princess Fatima. One day the Turkish prince Omar who loved Fatima arrived at Trenčín to get her back. The lord of the castle said that he will not give her back until Omar dig a well and found water. It took him 4 years to get water from the hard castle rock but he did it and took Fatima back to Turkey.

 

10. Banská Štiavnica

 

The town of Banská Štiavnica is dominated by two castles – the old and the new one. Both of them are mentioned in the UNESCO listed historical center. The old castle is a part of Slovak Mining Museum and its permanent exhibitions include a prison, torture chamber and the fortifications. The new castle is a white square tower with black roof surrounded by four bastions visible from a great distance. In the past, it used to be a mine clapper that served for calling miners to work. However, the castles are not the only beautiful thing about Banská Štiavnica. The town attracts visitors by its untouched architecture, palaces, churches, mining houses and rich cultural life.