Slovakia is a small country, but it contains over 100 castles. Its rugged terrain made it an ideal place to build fortresses: the rocks could be used for walls, and its elevated positions—overlooking roads and rivers—made them perfect for defensive posts against invasion. Below is a guide on 10 of The Coolest Castles in Slovakia!
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1. Bratislava Castle
This monumental Bratislava castle sits atop a hill of the Little Carpathians, 85 m above the Danube river and is visible from miles around, making it a symbol of Bratislava. It has seen the coronation of at least eleven kings and eight queens over time. The castle, formerly controlled by Great Moravia and later home to the crown jewels of Hungary, now hosts many exhibitions, whilst its beautiful surroundings make it ideal for strolling around and enjoying the view.
The castle is also a seat to the Museum of History (Slovak National Museum), which cares for its extensive antique collection—which includes collections of porcelain and ceramics, historical furniture, clocks and other historical items.
In the summertime, you can enjoy concerts and theatre performances as they are played out in the castle courtyard. The castle is easily accessible via a bus from the old town, which will drop you off at the bus stop, just a 2-minute walk away from the castle or you can walk from the old town and access the castle via one of the 3 gates: Sigmund gate, Vienna gate or Nicholas gate.
Accommodation near Bratislava Castle:
2. Bojnice Castle
Bojnice castle looks straight out of a fairytale making it one of the most visited in central Europe. You can find it near the Strážovské vrchy mountains, above Bojnice town. This Romanesque castle houses an art and history museum where different exhibits can be seen, some of which were originally owned by Ján František Pálffy. He was the last aristocratic owner and when he died, an agreement was made between Pálffy’s relatives and the government to turn it into a museum, in 1923. There are two types of tours that can be taken: The Castle tour (which takes you inside the castle) or The Gallery tour (exhibitions).
The castle is famous for the annual International Festival of Ghosts and Spirits, which takes place every May. The castle is said to be haunted as a number of people have seen a ghost in a black dress walking around the castle. According to legend, it is thought the woman was accused of infidelity by her husband and put on trial; she was made to drop herself off the tower, where if she survived, the test would prove her innocence.
The castle is built on top of a rock made entirely out of travertine. Underneath the castle lies a cave, which served as a shelter for its occupants and also acted like an underground reservoir. Archaeologists have found evidence that the cave was used during the Stone Age. For visitors driving from Prievidza to Bojnice, it is best to turn left at the crossroads and follow that road right into town. Once there, park in one of the designated parking lots (the chateau area is only a short walk away).
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3. Spiš Castle
Spiš Castle is a National Cultural Monument and although it is partially in ruins, it is one of the largest medieval castle compounds in Central Europe. In 1993 it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. The construction of the old castle was at the beginning of the 12th century. Over the years, many kings have reigned in the castle. It has changed from a Romanesque style into a Gothic one and then to that of Renaissance architecture. The castle was left in ruins following a fire in 1780 before undergoing reconstruction after the war.
Collections from the Spišské museum document the history of the castle, where you can find items from The Stone Age through to the Middle Ages in the castle’s archaeological exhibits. Various movies have been filmed in this location, including The Last Legion, Kull the Conqueror, and Dragonheart to name a few. You will get a great panoramic view from the upper area of the castle and when the weather is clement, you can see the Tatra Mountains in the distance.
The castle sits on the edge of the town of Spisske Podhradie. If you have to travel by bus, it will stop near the main square, and from there you will need to walk the trail up to the castle (less than an hour’s walk). The D1 highway runs very near to the castle so it is within easy reach by car. A tourist train runs in the summer months between Spisska Kapitula – Spisske Podhradie – Spis Castle and only costs a couple of euros.
Accommodation near Spiš Castle:
4. Orava Castle
Orava castle is one of the largest and most visually beautiful castles you will find in Slovakia, up in the northern region of Orava, overlooking the Orava river and the village of Oravsky Podzamok (village under the castle). The castle was built in place of the original fortress, after the Tartar invasion in the 13th century. Gothic, Romanesque, Renaissance, and Baroque are four styles of architecture that have evolved as the construction of the castle progressed.
Over the years it was owned by many different aristocrats and heads of the county. Francis Thurzo acquired the castle in 1556 and he carried out the most reconstruction to the castle before it was finalised in 1611. The castle eventually fell into the hands of many new owners who did not maintain the castle and it eventually was destroyed in a fire in 1800. Then after World War ll, the castle was restored.
You can now take a tour of the castle with its various exhibitions on display, with its furnished rooms, courtyards and weaponry collections, it is like you have stepped back in time. The 1922 film Nosferatu filmed many scenes in Orava castle and the TV adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula used the castle as their Castle Dracula. In the summer months, night tours are very popular to enjoy the scary atmosphere. You can get to the castle via train from Kralovany to Oravsky Podzamok or via car from Dolny Kubin.
Accommodation near Orava Castle:
5. Krasna Horka Castle
Krasna Horka is a wonderfully majestic castle perched on a hill overlooking Krásnohorské Podhradie, its name when translated means ‘Beautiful Hill’. Over the years the castle has been under the ownership of numerous aristocratic families, so there are some beautiful and original collections inside, ranging from antique furnishings to valuable art and clothing. The embalmed body of Sophia Andrássy-Serédy, known as the ‘Krasna Horka Lady,’ is laid to rest in a hyaloid sarcophagus within the castle chapel.
The castle is temporarily closed for reconstruction after suffering damage in 2012 from a huge fire that ripped through the castle, damaging the roof entirely and parts of the walls. Luckily, a lot of the treasures inside were saved thanks to the museum staff and firemen, who diligently managed to retrieve as much as they could. There is a car park in front of the mausoleum, in the village of Krasnohorske Podhradie, where you can park your car. However, the castle is currently closed to visitors.
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6. Ľubovňa Castle
Ľubovňa castle, in northern Slovakia, dates back to the second half of the 13th century. It is one of the castles built to secure the trade route that passed by the Poprad river valley, en route to Poland. It sits on a limestone cliff 711 m above Stará Ľubovňa. The Polish crown jewels were said to have been kept hidden in this castle from 1655 to 1661. Maurice Benyovszky, who was well-known as an adventurer, was imprisoned in the castle in 1768 for 10 months. He later became the King of Madagascar.
The castle houses the Ľubovňa museum, documenting its history and that of the surrounding areas, plus there is an open-air museum (The Museum of Folk Architecture) and a castle chapel, which are both located near the castle. In the summer months, you can watch the falconry displays they put on. A castle tour takes roughly 2 hours however at present, the castle is temporarily closed. If arriving by car, there is a car park located on Zamocka St. From here it is a 10-minute walk to the open-air museum and the castle.
Accommodation near Ľubovňa Castle:
7. Devin Castle
If you drive about 10 km west of Bratislava, you will come upon Devin Castle. Although it is in ruins, the medieval structure has been well preserved and offers a wonderful view of the surrounding area, with both rivers—the Danube and Morava—visible from its highest point. The castle houses several exhibitions in its museum, from the permanent exhibition ‘Architectural development of Devin Castle’ documenting its history between the 11th and 19th centuries to the works that are featured in each temporary exhibition throughout the year.
The castle is surrounded by multiple walks and bike trails, offering the chance to enjoy the lovely surroundings. You can reach the castle by car or the local buses run every 30 minutes.
Accommodation near Devin Castle:
(Only 10 km from Bratislava Castle).
8. Beckov Castle
Beckov castle sits on a 50 m high rock above the village of Beckov and is one of the largest castles in Slovakia. The castle’s old Hungarian name ‘Bolondóc’, is said to come from a legend that it was built by the court fool of Beckov’s local voivode. The castle was first mentioned in 1200 and was owned by the king, then at the end of the 13th century, it belonged to Matúš Čák, followed by the Stibor of Stiborice family at the end of the 14th century. It was the Bánffys who changed the castle from the Gothic style to the Renaissance style and improved its fortifications, thus preventing it from being conquered by the Turks in the 16th century. Eventually, the castle succumbed to a fire in 1729.
Today the castle holds temporary exhibitions that you can look around and in the summer months, there are various festivities held at the castle, along with the annual medieval tournaments and games. If you arrive by car, you will need to park in the village, followed by a 10-minute walk to the castle.
Accommodation near Beckov Castle:
9. Smolenice Castle
This romantic castle with its tall round towers is now used for weddings and conferences and is located less than an hour away from the capital Bratislava, in the Little Carpathians area. It sits above the village of Smolenice and can only be visited on a guided tour during July and August in the summer. The Slovak Academy of Sciences owns the castle but you can visit the English Garden and the park any time of the year. There is a small car park next to the castle if you arrive by car.
Accommodation near Smolenice Castle:
10. Čachtice Castle
You can find Čachtice Castle located in northwestern Slovakia. The castle suffered its final battle during the 18th century, leaving it in ruins. This castle has the dark history of once being home to Elizabeth Báthory, who the Guinness Book of Records lists as being the most prolific female murderer. Elizabeth was also known as ‘Countess Dracula’ or the ‘Bloody Lady’ as it is reported she practised vampirism on young girls and drank and bathed in their blood in order to preserve her youth. It is thought that over 600 young women were supposedly tortured, and then killed under her order. Once this was discovered, she was reportedly imprisoned in a room in the castle from 1610 until she died in 1614.
The castle ruins were made safe and reopened to the general public in 2014, so visitors can hike for 45 minutes on the trail from Čachtice town and stroll around the old living quarters of Elizabeth Bathory, which is likely where she was imprisoned. If you are travelling by train, you will need to change to a local connection to Visnove village then from here you will have to hike along the steep trail to the castle. Alternatively, if you travel by car to the town of Čachtice, the walk from there is more gradual.
Accommodation near Čachtice Castle:
The castles in Slovakia are some of Europe’s most majestic and historically significant structures. They offer a wealth of history for you to explore and are set in some beautiful locations. Perfect for exploring! They offer many opportunities for you to enjoy some historical sightseeing, or simply admire their impressive architecture. If you are planning on visiting Central Europe then these castles are worth adding to your itinerary!
Recommended tours in Slovakia
- Private Day Trip to Banska Stiavnica Unesco Site
- Highlights of Slovakia in 2 days
- Bratislava City and Castle Tour
- Devin Castle Tour with Wine Tasting
- Bratislava Day trip to Bojnice Castle and Cicmany Village
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