Devin Castle – Slovakia’s History Through Ruins

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Although standing proud in its semi-ruinous grandeur today, Devin Castle was once the center of the Slovakian socio-economic hub. At present, it houses a museum and is considered to be a symbol of Slavic unity and fellowship. Further, we’ll be looking at its history, current condition, and its standing in the world of today:

The ancient name of Devin Castle was Dowina, which literally translates to the Slavic word for “girl” (aka, Deva).

The view of Bratislava Castle and the castle ground.
The view of Bratislava Castle and the castle ground. Hrad Devín (Devín Castle), Bratislava, Slovakia flickr photo by PhotoHenning shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
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Frequently Asked Questions

FOR HISTORY | BEAUTIFUL IMAGES | INTERESTING FACTS | TRAVEL TIPS

Early History

The Beginning

Before the beginning of Devin Castle, the site that it is located on shares a rich history that dates back to the 5th century when the earliest archeological finds are dated to. 400 years after that, the Celts made it their own. After that, it toed the border of the Roman Empire before finally being used for the initial construction that later became Devin Castle.

The First Fortification

The very first Devin Castle that was erected on this site was built on the behest of Prince Rastislav of the Great Moravian Kingdom. The raised location gave the castle an extra defensive edge. Moreover, the strategic placement between the Rivers Danube and Morava made it a trade control hub on two major water bodies of the region.

An old picture of Devin Castle in 1930.
Devin Castle in 1930. Unknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Royal History of Devin Castle

The second major construction of Devin Castle happened in the 13th century when the upper castle was built. Over the past centuries, it had been passed through multiple royals of Moravia. It was also the residence of the Dukes of Austria as well as Charles I. After the occupation by King Frederick IV, the main palace was added in the fifteenth century (1444 to be exact).

The aerial view of Devin Castle.
The aerial view of Devin Castle. Steven Lek, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Destruction

Additions to Devin Castle kept on being made until the 18th century. The Palfies were the last documented owners of the castle, before it was destroyed by Napoleon’s troops in 1809 to neutralise the region.

The walls of Devin Castle.
The walls of Devin Castle.

Current Times

Devin Castle’s strategic location kept on being a noteworthy point. It was declared a National Heritage Site in 1961 and became quite a heavily guarded checkpoint during the Velvet Revolution (and the fall of the Communist Regime) in 1989. Today, it is a noteworthy tourist destination that has become quite a favorite place to visit for everyone who visits the country.

Devin Castle in its present condition.
Devin Castle in its present condition. Czech Wikipedia user Marzper, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Interesting Devin Castle Facts

  • The ancient name of Devin Castle was Dowina, which literally translates to the Slavic word for “girl” (aka, Deva). 
  • The watchtower of Devin Castle is immersed in many legends, the most popular ones of which are about virgin maidens trapped inside.
  • Devin Castle is also said to be the starting point of Cyril and Methodius’ mission in 863. They were most notably known for inventing the Slavonic alphabet, which they used to translate the Bible.
  • The Upper Castle has been closed to the public since 1908 because of an unstable foundation.
  • If you scale off the cliff, you’ll find a memorial for the communism victims along its edge. It commemorates the people who tried to flee to Austria at the time.

Visiting Devin Castle – Tips and Tricks

Devin Castle is definitely worth a visit, if for nothing else, then for the stunning views that it encompasses on all sides. If you want to visit, then here’s all the information you need to plan it:

Visiting tourists at Devin Castle.
Visiting tourists at Devin Castle. Devín Castle. flickr photo by young shanahan shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

How to get to Devin Castle?

Devin Castle is just a 10-minute drive away from the old town of Bratislava. Fuel cost will come around €0.89-€2.5 ($1-$3 USD). You can also take the cyclobus (no. 29 and 128) that runs every 30 minutes. It will drop you and your bike off at the base of the castle, and from there you just have to glide through the entrance. This route will cost you between €0.70-€3.50 ($1-$4 USD).

Ticket Prices, Visiting Hours & Travel Tips

Tickets for Devin Castle cost around €4 ($5 USD) for adults and €2 ($3 USD) for kids, pensioners, and students. Family tickets cost €8 for a single group with children under 14. School groups can avail €1.3 ($2 USD) per person.

Visiting hours vary all year round. From November to March, entry is strictly in adherence with the weather and the closing time is 3:30 pm. From April to October, the castle opens its gates at 10:00 am and closes at 4:30 pm.

A closer look of Devin Castle where you can see the tunnel burrowed into rock.
A closer look of Devin Castle where you can see the tunnel burrowed into rock. Hrad Devín (Devín Castle), Bratislava, Slovakia flickr photo by PhotoHenning shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

How Long Will It Take to Tour Around?

It might take you half a day to fully explore Devin Castle and all its surroundings.

Some words of advice and tips: 

  • There are multiple cycling and hiking trails that lead from the castle and meander along the river. If you’re in search of some great views, then they’re definitely a great place to start.
  • The historic splendor of the castle is a sight to behold – and it’s certainly bigger than it looks. It’s best to pack a small snack for the visit.
  • If you want nice pictures, then you should seek out the “Palace of the Lords of Gara.” It’s part of the ruins of the castle and there are some amazing spots there to take memorable pictures.

Quick Video Tour of The Main Devin Castle Areas

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Zunaira Ghazal
Zunaira Ghazal
Zunaira is an architect and designer on paper, but a writer at heart. She’s got a Bachelors in Architecture and a passion for traveling, both of which combine in her writings about timeworn castles and fortresses that have withstood the tests of time and stand proud to this day.

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