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.


Feudal Grandeur Writ Large

Text by Igor Ďurič, Chris Togneri, and Tom Philpott

    Orava Castle
 Orava Castle
 Photo: Ján Svrček

Slovakia's feudal history is written on its hillsides, which are dotted east and west, north and south, with preserved and ruined castles.

These grand structures once housed the Hungarian - and occasionally the Austrian - elite, who sometimes ruled with disdain and cruelty over the Slovak-speaking peasants in the towns and villages below. Most castles have been ruined for centuries, burned to the ground in struggles with marauding invaders or destroyed in imperial conflicts, such as the anti-Habsburg revolts of the 18th century. But others remain pristine; these tend to serve as museums that can be visited by the public.

And for those with historical imagination, even the ruins, which often amount to a few crumbling walls surrounded by poignant piles of rocks, can be evocative sites for a visit.

Slovakia has more than 300 known castle sites on its territory. A proper survey of them could fill an entire guidebook. What follows are several of the most interesting - ones that castle fans must not leave Slovakia without visiting.

These articles and related information were published in Spectacular Slovakia 2003.

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