Spiš Castle

One of the biggest castle ruins in Slovakia – Spiš Castle – dominates the fascinating urbanistic-landscape complex. It was built on limestone rock which is from ancient times. The oldest brick residential part of the Romanesque royal castle, a tower surrounded by fortification with a round ground plan, was at the beginning of the 13th century replaced by a newer one. This tower forming a dominant part of the upper castle, is preserved until today. The monumental three-storey Romanesque palace also comes from the 13th century. The outside walls of the large building preserved until today with typical compound windows and numerous construction details which refer to the contacts of the builders with the contemporary German construction centres. In the period after the Mongoli invasion in 1241 which the brick castle resisted, a separate residential-defence unit was created – two towers joined by a fortification at the entrance from Spišské Podhradie. These were later in the 15th century integrated into the castle and incorporated into the extensive fortification of the lower castle. At that time the castle achieved its biggest expanse and this period is related to the stay of the army of Ján Jiskra representing the interests of the infant Ladislav Pohrobok. Until 1465 the castle was a royal property and served as a political, administrative, economic and cultural centre of the Spiš county. After the ruler Matthias Corvinus gave the castle to Imrich Zápoľský for his loyalty and battle merits, since the second half of the 15th century it has been in private ownership. With the castle the Zápoľský family gained also the hereditary title of the Spiš count and tried to transform the castle into a comfortable Gothic nobility seat. In the western and partially also in the eastern part of the upper castle they built residential wings near the walls. An old castle chapel was arched with a net vault. Over the ground floor in the Romanesque palace vaults were built and the fortifications were also modernised. In the first half of the 16th century for a short period of time the castle was in the ownership of the Thurzo family. They built additional storeys and extensions of the objects in the upper castle and after the male family line died out, the castle passed to the ownership of the Csáky family which owned it until 1945. However, the partially occupied castle fell into ruin after the fire in 1780. Today the exhibition of the Spiš museum is placed in the preserved ruin which itself represents a unique exhibit. In 1993 together with the town Spišské Podhradie and the village Žehra, the castle was included in the UNESCO World heritage list.

Heritage > National cultural monuments