In another rare exception where I play the part of tourist while in Slovakia (the other was a visit to Cachticky Hrad), we took a day trip from our tiny village enclave to visit one of Slovakia’s UNESCO gems situated in the heart of the country.
Spiš Castle’s foundations date back to the 12th century when it served as a northern boundary Fort for the Hungarian state at the time. It would the become the seat of rulers of the Spiš region for centuries. In the 15th century the castle went through a major upgrade under owner Stefan Zapolsky who added a Chapel, Knight’s Hall and a Palace. His son Jan, would be born in the Castle and would become king of Hungary.
The Castle suffered extensive damage as a result of a major fire in 1780 and fell into ruins for much of the 19th and 20th centuries. It was only through the efforts of conservationists that began in 1970 that allowed Spiš to be rebuilt to what we find today. Visitors to the castle will find extremely well kept grounds with key areas of the castle restored to the point that much of it is accessible to the public. Within the castle’s museum, visitors can see recreations of dining areas, armories, a chapel and torture chamber.
Spiš is among the largest fortress-type castles in all of Europe and became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993 along with Levoca, a nearby town nearly under the castle’s shadow. Access to the Castle is easy since their are major roadways that pass near the grounds. Aside from the Castle, the villages and towns nearby offer some of the best examples and insights in Slovakian heritage that you will find anywhere in the country. Should your travel plans take you to the area, please let me know and I can suggest how to enjoy the area as a ‘local’!
At this point I’ll put my keyboard on mute and let the photos tell more of the story on this wonderful place…….
A look at Spiš as we pass by to the west.
Approaching the main entrance to the Castle. The incline was worse than it appears!
This view shows a ‘rock formation’ depicting a deer at the base of the Castle. Speaking to locals about it, they said that it was a ‘gift’ from a few Britskej Alkoholici. I don’t doubt it.
At the entrance of the Castle visitors will find the ticket office, a souvenir shop, a small restaurant and restrooms.
Once inside the Castle grounds, its size really starts to play out. Massive walls and buttresses protect the Castle’s extensive footprint.
Looking down into the main Courtyard.
The Castle’s elevation allows for spectacular views to the horizon. No doubt a prerequisite for any Castle!
One of the towers displaying serious erosion to its foundation.
‘Keystones’ have kept this arch in place for hundreds of years…..
Though much of the Castle has been restored, some areas remain in ruin.
One of the towers overlooking the Castle’s grounds.
There’s definitely a certain beauty to a Castle as it show’s its age and resolve.
One of several Canon batteries on display
We found this thanks to some insider information. This relief of a young girl is supposedly a tribute to her after she committed suicide at the Castle.
Inside the Castle, several displays recreate what life was like within Castle walls. This shows a typical kitchen.
The Castle’s Chapel
A small display shows some of the arms and suit of armor that were used by Castle inhabitants.
A Knight’s suit of armor
The bath house suggests a variety of services on offer…..given the choice, I think the middle option would be the best value 🙂
The next stop was the Torture Chamber, apparently a wide variety of services are offered here as well.
Tools of the Trade…..
No Castle is complete without a ‘Rack’ that would help you find those extra few inches….
A less than comfortable Nail Chair. Look closely at the seat and seat back and you’ll see little stubs. Behind the seat back is a knob that you would turn to push the stubs into the back and butt of your guest.
They can’t just called this a squirrel? Why make it so difficult and funny!
After leaving the castle, we stopped by a restaurant for dinner and enjoyed this spectacular view of the Castle for a few minutes.