These articles were published in the Spectacular Slovakia travel guide, published annually by The Slovak Spectator since 1996. The latest editions can be obtained from our online shop.

A brief account of Bojnice Castle

By Chris Togneri

 photo: The Slovak Spectator archives

That Bojnice zámok is the cream of the country's castle crop is no accident, says castle festival organiser Jozef Mikuláš Pálffy: although the communists neglected many monuments and historical sites as a matter of doctrine, Bojnice was actually used by top leaders as a weekend getaway and private conference centre. As a result, Bojnice glittered while other castles crumbled.

"Whenever a travel guide is made about Slovakia," says the castle's marketing director, Sylvia Maliariková, proudly, "they use a picture of Bojnice for the cover."

The first written record of Bojnice castle dates back to 1113 from the Zobor Abbey scrolls. The original fortress was a wood structure with thick walls and a moat. It was turned into a stone fortification during a slow process lasting throughout the 13th century under the Poznanovec family.

At the beginning of the 16th century, the castle became the renaissance seat of the local nobility and was soon expanded through the construction of two additional wings, built to offer more lodgings for guests. In 1644, Bojnice was given a baroque make-over by the Pálffy's, a Hungarian noble family which from the 17th to 19th centuries was one of the richest and most influential in the Hungarian Kingdom. Count Ján Pállfy (1829 to 1908) was the last noble owner of the castle. After hiring Austrian architects in 1888, he renovated the zámok in the romantic style, according to chateaux he had seen on the river Loire in France and palaces in Venice.

 photo: Ján Svrček

Today, Pállfy's remains lie inside the castle in a red marble sarcophagus (one of the last stops on castle tours). When he died in Vienna, it was his wish that the castle be opened to the public, that he might share his accumulated wealth and treasures with common people. The collection is impressive, even though much of it was sold off after his death.

Some 300,000 to 400,000 visitors from around the world visit Bojnice annually. Several films have been shot at the castle, and some locals even claim that the replica castle at California's Disney Land was modelled after their own. Although Disney Land told SS 2001 that their castle had been "partly influenced" by a castle in Neuschwanstein, Germany, the resemblance is indeed striking.

These articles and related information were published in Spectacular Slovakia 2001.

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