Slovakia’s abundance in ruined castles, which are nestled all over its territory, is remarkable. Dozens of vast citadel complexes, royal residences and fortified strongholds await – there’s plenty to see and explore in this Slavic country if you ever decide to journey off on a medieval tour. Here are some of the most magnificent and well-preserved medieval structures tourists from near and far will appreciate.
Glorious and glamorous, the Bojnice castle looks like it came right out of a Disney movie, which is one of the main reasons why it’s so popular among tourists and location scouts working in the film industry. This castle was once merely a wooden construction that was replaced by stone in the 12th century. Fully reconstructed after a fire devastated it in the 1950s, Bojnice has been featured in films like Fantaghiro, World Without End and other productions. Its castle grounds hold one of the most visited zoos in all of Slovakia, lavish parks, one of the oldest trees in the country and lively sceneries painted by the Strážov Mountain range.
Another famous filming location for numerous movie productions is the Spiš castle – one of the largest well-preserved palaces in all of Europe. UNESCO granted it an official World Heritage Site status back in 1993. Constructed in the typical medieval Romanesque masonry style the façade was built over the ruins of another fortification and was later fully rebuilt during the 15th century. Movies like Dragonheart, Kull The Conqueror, The Last Legion and others were filmed on its grounds. It’s open to the public for a small admittance fee between April and October.
Not to be confused with Brekov, which is another ruined castle located in Slovakia, the Beckov castle has served crucial historic purposes ever since the old days of Great Moravia. The now desolated site was once used for personal residency by numerous noblemen, as well as for fortifications against foreign sieges. It was even turned into a prison at some later point between 1646 and 1729. And right next to the main road leading to the castle is an ancient Jewish cemetery, which dates back to the early 1700s. Nowadays Beckov castle is one of the few remaining medieval castles that managed to survive during (and after) the attacks of the Tartars and the Ottoman Empire.
Manor of Budmerice
Unlike the previously mentioned castles, this one wasn’t built during the Middle Ages. It was constructed in the late 19th century for the local Count Jan Palffy, who adored the style of the French chateaux of the Loire Valley. Needless to say, his grand manor’s architectural design ended up being inspired by the Loire castles. A few decades ago the Budmerice manor’s interior became closed for public tours after it started serving as the seat of the House of Slovak writers, but the rest of the castle grounds are still open to visitors who want to admire its majestic exterior.
Bratislava castle complex
Last, but not least, comes the fortified castle of the Slovak capital city. Albeit not as chick or as posh as the other ones mentioned above, the grand Bratislava castle complex is still impressive in its own way and offers splendid views of the Danube river, Austria, Hungary and the city of Bratislava. Dating back to the distant 9th century, the complex’s ancient architecture is attracting tourists from all over the world. It should come to no surprise that the main façade and its fortifications have played a key role on numerous occasions for Slovak and Hungarian history and its past is often haunted by various folk legends with fantastic plots – from lovelorn sorrows to ghost stories and even to fairytales about ominous giants.