The Best 20 Castles to Visit in Slovakia (Listed by Popularity)

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One of the most beautiful countries in Central Europe–with quaint villages, spectacular lakes, and magnificent mountains–Slovakia is home to some of the most majestic castles in the world. 

There are over 180 incredible castles in this country! And many of these castles date back to prehistoric times. Exploring these majestic castles is one of the best things you can do during your visit to Slovakia. 

Here is our list of the 10 most magnificent castles in Slovakia that you must visit. And for those of you who cannot have enough of these historic fortresses, we have added 10 more equally fabulous, but less famous ones. Read on till the end for a walk of history.

The order of the list is based on Google search volume of each castle = popularity.

1. Spis Castle

The view of Spis Castle on the hill.
The view of Spis Castle on the hill.
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One of the biggest castles in all of Europe, Spis Castle covers approximately 41 thousand square meters (about 10 acres). The castle has hundreds of years of history as the administrative, political, cultural, and economic center of the region. Because of its rich historical background, the castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The medieval Spis Castle was built in the 12th century on the site of a previous castle. The castle was owned by the Kings of Hungary till 1464 when some noble families overtook it. Unfortunately, in 1780, a terrible fire destroyed the castle and only some parts were rebuilt.  

The architectural design of Spis Castle became an amalgam of Gothic and Romanesque features as residents continued to add extensions according to their period’s style and era. The layers of history reflected by the castle’s architecture are very fascinating for history lovers.

2. Orava Castle

Orava castle at the top.
Orava castle at the top.

One of the most interesting things about the majestic Orava Castle is its location. As it stands atop a dramatic hilltop, it towers over the Orava River in Oravský Podzámok. Consequently, its magnificent presence makes it one of the best castles in Slovakia and a must-see on your trip. 

The stunning Orava Castle was built in 1241 to replace a wooden hill fort. It is first mentioned in historical records when it was declared to be a royal property in 1267. 

Sadly, a terrible fire destroyed the castle in 1800. An extensive restoration and reconstruction process brought it to its current form after World War II. It is now one of the most visited sites in Slovakia and a very popular tourist destination. 

Given the outstanding cultural, historical, and architectural value of the castle, it has been named a national cultural heritage site.

3. Bojnice Castle

Worm's eye view of Bojnice Castle.
Worm’s eye view of Bojnice Castle.

The beautiful Bojnice Castle looks like a fairytale castle with its blue turrets and towers. Located in the lovely town of Bojnice and set picturesquely next to a lake, it is a delight for visitors. It is one of the most frequently visited castles in the country. 

As with most historical buildings, Bojnice Castle was originally a wooden fort. A historical document at the Zobor Abbey presents the first written record of Bojnice Castle in the year 1113. The castle’s architecture is mainly of the Romanesque style, though it gained some Renaissance and Gothic elements in later additions. 

Bojnice Castle has been a part of the Slovak National Museum since 1950. You can choose from the various tours offered by the museum: the Castle Tour or the Gallery Tour. The most unconventional is the evening tour in which you get to explore the castle in candlelight.

4. Devin Castle

The ruins of Devin Castle.
The ruins of Devin Castle.

Devin Castle is certainly one of the most fascinating castles in Slovakia. You will simply fall in love with it–be it for its imposing hilltop presence, its fantastic museum, or simply its relaxing atmosphere. 

Settlements have been at this site since the Neolithic Age, creating an extremely rich historical background. It was later fortified and reconstructed several times in the Bronze Age and the Iron Age. The Romans and the Celts used the Devin area as well. The first record of a stone castle on the site is from 1271.

Do visit the Maiden Tower on the cliff-edge, there are several legends about beautiful daughters being imprisoned there. Napoleon is supposed to have ordered that the castle be destroyed. 

In addition to all this mystery, you will surely be charmed by the romantic exterior, rich heritage, and impressive views.

5. Beckov Castle

The panoramic view of the ruins of Beckov Castle.
The panoramic view of the ruins of Beckov Castle.

Beckov Castle stands majestically as one of the oldest castles in the country. Because of its location on the western edge of Slovakia, bordering with Hungary, the rulers built the 13th-century castle for protection from invaders. 

Over the centuries, Beckov Castle has changed from a 16th-century moat-&-drawbridge castle to a 17th-century prison. As it stands high on a steep cliff overlooking the lovely River Vah, you will certainly enjoy the picturesque views. Beckov Castle was declared a national cultural monument in 1970 and is deeply valued for its rich historical background. 

After exploring the beautiful ruins, do visit the town museum located below the castle to find out more about its history.

6. Bratislava Castle

Bratislava castle lighted up at night.
Bratislava castle lighted up at night.

A prominent landmark in the thriving capital city of Bratislava, Bratislava Castle has been the center of power through the centuries. Being located on a high hill, the castle towers majestically above the Danube River. 

Built in the 9th century, the castle provided fortification and functioned as an acropolis during its earlier existence. During the Renaissance period, the leaders and nobles used Bratislava Castle as the seat of power. Through the centuries, 11 kings and 8 queens have been crowned in this castle.

Bratislava Castle comprises 4 grand wings, each with its own tower. Today, the castle is home to the Slovak National Museum where an unbelievable number of artifacts and features are on display. These artifacts represent the long, impressive history of Bratislava Castle and Slovakia.

7. Cachtice Castle

The ruins of Cachtice Castle.
The ruins of Cachtice Castle. LMih, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The 13th century Cachtice Castle nestles on a jagged hill, giving out a mysterious look that you just cannot resist. Because the hill that the castle stands on features rare plants, it is now a national nature reserve.  

The architecture of Cachtice Castle was initially of a Romanesque design, but in later periods, it became more Gothic. There were major renovations and construction during the 15th and 16th centuries. The Renaissance renovation took place in the 17th century. 

One of the reasons for Cachtice Castle being very famous is that it was home (and later, prison) to Countess Elizabeth Bathory, the world’s most famous female serial killer. She bathed in the blood of 600 young girls believing that this would keep her beautiful and young. 

In 1799, the castle burned down and was neglected for a long time. Since 2014, it has been an extremely attractive and popular tourist attraction that you must visit. 

8. Krasna Horka Castle

The aerial view of Krasna Horka Castle.
The aerial view of Krasna Horka Castle. Civertan, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

The fascinating Krasna Horka (Beautiful Hill) Castle is nestled atop a hill overlooking the lovely village of Krasnohorske Podhradie. 

The castle was first heard of in 1333 when the Hungarian Akos brothers built it. It overlooked a trade route from Transylvania to Spis, through Kosice. The castle changed owners several times through the centuries, several of them rebuilt and extended Krasna Horka Castle. 

The Slovak Republic declared Krasna Horka Castle a national cultural monument in 1961. The castle was closed for renovations from 2010 – 2011, and officially reopened to the public in April 2011.

Unfortunately, a fire caused extensive damage to the castle in 2012, when reckless teenagers discarded a cigarette. The bell tower and palace were destroyed but the Interior Minister of Slovakia publicly stated that most of the exhibits had not been damaged. The castle remains closed until further notice.

9. Cerveny Kamen

Cerveny Kamen's view from afar.
Cerveny Kamen’s view from afar. Teslaton, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located within the picturesque landscape of the Little Carpathians mountains, Cerveny Kamen Castle appears to be a part of a fairy tale. The castle has immense historic value and is located close to the village of Casta. 

Built in the 13th century, Cerveny Kamen Castle was a part of the frontier defense castles for Hungary. Though it was originally a stone castle, it was rebuilt completely in the 16th century as a fortress. 

The Palfi family took control of the castle in 1588.In the 16th century, the Mikulas Palfi converted the fortress into a dwelling area. There were additional enlargements and modernization in the 18th century. 

The castle became a national cultural property in 1945. The castle is now a museum that houses valuable art objects, paintings, and furniture from several castles. You can explore the magnificent Cerveny Kamen as part of one of the several guided tours on offer.

10. Stara Lubovna Castle

The tower of Stara Lubovna Castle.
The tower of Stara Lubovna Castle.

The magnificent Stara Lubovna Castle has a colorful, rich history that dates back to the 13th century. The castle was built by the Hungarian King Ondrej III, located to the northeast of Spis. In the centuries that followed, key rulers have met at this historic castle to discuss critical matters. 

Unfortunately, in 1553, a terrible fire destroyed the castle. It was later reconstructed as a Renaissance palace, with a Baroque reconstruction in the 17th century. 

During the Polish-Sweden war, the Polish crown jewels were hidden in the castle. In 1966, a museum was set up in the castle.

You will absolutely love the historic museum and the calmness of the environment as you explore the lovely landscape and wonderful gardens surrounding the castle. 

If you are a castle enthusiast, you must take out the time to visit these equally spectacular castles in Slovakia as well:

11. Smolenice Castle

The view of Smolnice castle behind the trees.
The view of Smolnice castle behind the trees.

Smolenice Castle is an old and lovely structure with a lush surrounding countryside. It was first built in the 15th century. The castle was ruined in the time of the Rakoczi’s War of Independence and the Napoleonic wars. 

The castle remained empty until Count Jozsef Paiffy restored the castle, much later, in the 20th century. Reinforced concrete was used to erect a castle building, a tower, and two wing sections at the site. Another round of restructuring happened after the castle was damaged again in WWII.

The castle is owned by the Slovak Academy of Sciences as of June 26, 1953. Today it serves mostly as a conference center and is only open to the public during the months of July and August.

12. Strecno Castle

Strecno Castle standing at the edge of the cliff.
Strecno Castle standing at the edge of the cliff. RomanM82, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Strecno Castle is an old medieval castle situated on a high cliff overlooking the settlement of Strecno, in northern Slovakia. The first mention of the castle dates to 1316.

Later, the castle was in near ruins and uninhabited for around 350 years. It took 21 years to reconstruct the castle. This was done from 1974 until 1995, and is said to have taken so much time to complete due to the high cost of rebuilding the structure as per its original technically advanced specifications.

13. Trenčiansky Hrad

The picturesque view of Trenčiansky Hrad.
The picturesque view of Trenčiansky Hrad. Dukeofelliun, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Trencin Castle (Trenčiansky Hrad in Slovak) is a picturesque, ancient castle that dates back to the Roman Empire. Inscriptions found at the site document the castle existing in 179AD.

The castle was donated to the town of Trencin, by its last owner, Iphigenia De Castris D’Harcour, in the year 1905 . There is much to see at this very popular castle. The Trencin Castle hosts exhibitions from the Trencin Museum, with displays of the history of the castle as well as the region. It is an extremely popular travel destination with around 100,000 visitors each year.

14. Nitra Castle

Nitra Castle's aerial view.
Nitra Castle’s aerial view. Unknown authorUnknown author, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

Nitra Castle is an ancient site of pure splendor! Constructed in the 11th century, the castle was built on land where a fort once existed.This magnificent castle is a Slovakian National Cultural Monument headquarters of the Diocese of Nitra.The castle features elements from several architectural styles. The Gothic style architecture was incorporated during the 14th and 17th centuries. The current Late Baroque style architecture of the bishop’s palace was completed during the 18th century. 16th and 17th-century castle fortifications, as well as fewer castle fortifications from the Middle Ages, still remain.

15. Old Castle Banska Stiavnica

A closer look of the details of Old Castle Banska Stiavnica's wall structure.
A closer look of the details of Old Castle Banska Stiavnica’s wall structure. Ladislav Luppa, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This ancient, medieval castle dates to the 13th century, with the first mention of a building on the site being in 1240. In 1442 there was fighting in the area, which partially destroyed the castle site. A year later an earthquake in the area left the castle in ruins.

The castle was reconstructed several times in the 16th century to the form we see today. In current times the Old Castle serves as the Slovak Mining Museum with exhibits of the region. Structures to be viewed at the Old Castle site include a Romanesque charnel, a castle building, and a surrounding wall reinforced by towers.

16. Pusty Hrad

The ruins of Pusty Hrad.
The ruins of Pusty Hrad. Michal Hruška, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Pusty Castle ruins are the remains of a once enormous, Slavic Medieval castle complex from the 9th century. Originally named Zvolen Castle (for the local town), it was renamed to differentiate this castle’s ruins from the still-standing “new” Zvolen Castle.

Considered the largest medieval castle ruins in Europe, it has an area size of roughly 76,000 square meters (just under 19 acres). With a lower and separate upper castle, the ruins are surrounded by a wooded area atop a hill. Additions to the site were made in the 12th and 13th centuries. In the 15th century, the castle became less significant and was eventually devastated by a fire in 1452, during a siege.

17. Budatin Castle

The entrance to Budatin Castle.
The entrance to Budatin Castle. Pudelek, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The ruins of medieval Budatin Castle are situated north-western Slovakia, where the Kysuca and Vah rivers converge. The ancient castle was built in the 13th century, to serve as a royal fortress where tolls were collected from people passing to and from the area.

The castle was further built-up and strengthened during the 14th century in the Gothic style. In the mid-16th century, the castle was reconstructed in the Renaissance architectural style. In the 17th century, Baroque buildings were added. In 1922-1923, some further reconstruction was done to the castle, incorporating elements of history and romance styles.

The ruins of this medieval castle remain to be explored today. Three exhibitions can be toured featuring displays of the Povazie museum.

18. Bytca Castle

Side view of Bytca Castle.
Side view of Bytca Castle. Ingo Mehling, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bytca Castle was first erected in the 13th century as a water castle, originally a Gothic structure. It was reconstructed between 1571 and 1574 into a quadrangular structure in the Renaissance style.

In 1601 a Wedding Palace was erected on the castle site. The palace currently belongs to the Povazsky Museum. The castle is also used to keep the Bytca State Archives – this area inside the castle is not accessible to the public. The castle was opened to the public again in 2009 after it was renovated and only portions are open for visitors to tour in current times.

19. Kezmarok Castle

The entrance to Kezmarok Castle.
The entrance to Kezmarok Castle.

Kezmarok Castle (Kežmarský hrad) was originally built as a defense structure around 1463, in the Gothic style. The emphasis of the castle construction was predominantly on fortification and security with high citadels and thick walls.

 Throughout the period between 1572 and 1624, further reconstructions and additions were made to the castle giving it a more overall Renaissance architectural aesthetic. Early Baroque style architecture was emphasized inside the castle church.

Today, the castle belongs to the Kezmarok Museum. On offer to tourists visiting the castle are theatrical concerts and a wide variety of exhibitions. The castle complex is accessible by road and by train.

20. Kremnica Castle

The stunning clock tower of Kremnica Castle.
The stunning clock tower of Kremnica Castle.

Kremnica Castle is a well-preserved medieval castle situated on a hilltop in Kremnica town, central Slovakia. It was built during the 14th and 15th centuries. Interestingly, the castle forms part of the NBS – Museum of Coins and Medals.

The castle complex houses several medieval buildings, surrounded by securely constructed walls that are joined to the walls of the town. The architecture styles range from a Neo-gothic church interior to a Renaissance tower. The ossuary located in the basement is the oldest part of the remaining castle compound.

The guard room (at the top of the church tower) is used presently to host exhibitions for tourists to visit, if you are willing to climb a 127-step spiral staircase, that is. It is quite something to attend an exhibition at the Kremnica Castle guard room with the most incredible view of the town and its surroundings from above!

Conclusion

Slovakia has an abundance of historically rich and magnificent castles to visit. These landmarks are spectacular to experience and are guaranteed to leave you breathless at the sight of their beauty! Sensational Slovakia will reinvigorate your mind, body, and soul.

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Charmaine Waterston
Charmaine Waterston
After studying Law and Industrial Psychology, I went on to start my own ICT data recovery business. Some years later I qualified locally as a Financial Advisor and ran my own business with a portfolio of clients. Throughout my life, I traveled extensively to many interesting countries around the world. While enjoying my life’s adventures, I absorbed the rich history of various cultures and experienced the beauty of so many different places! Today, I am an author. I combine my career and travel experience with my thirst for knowledge about our captivating world and the remarkable people in it. My writing is an expression of my passion for personal growth and my love of communication. I am truly fulfilling my dream through my work!

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