All About Castles in Slovakia (Oldest, Biggest, etc.)

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Did you know that our little big country Slovakia is filled with castles? This article focuses exactly on that. 

Slovakia has the most castles per capita in the world. There are over 180 castles and 425 chateaux in the country. Due to Slovakia’s location, historically it has been a part of many kingdoms, hence why there are so many castles. First built by Slavs and later by Hungarian nobility. One of the most famous castles are Bratislava and Bojnice castles.

Continue reading to find out more details about Slovakia’s castles and their history.

All About Castles in Slovakia
All About Castles in Slovakia (Orava castle)

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How many castles are in Slovakia

Slovakia has the highest amount of castles per person in the world. There are more than 180 castles and over 425 chateaux in the country. However, not all of these castles have been maintained throughout history and a significant portion of these remain in ruins. 

The oldest are hillforts. These are not fully preserved objects, but only the remains of fortified settlements built from prehistoric times to the early Middle Ages discovered and explored by archaeologists.

The High and Late Middle Ages in Slovakia, incorporated into Hungary, are marked by castles. Historians state that more than 180 of them were built. 

The oldest were the successors of the existence of Great Moravian hillforts, but the most numerous group arose after the Tatar invasion in the second half of the 13th and during the 14th century.

Bad times for castles came in the 17th century, marked by estate uprisings and war with the Turks. Most of them were destroyed to such an extent that they became uninhabitable ruins. Today we have only 17 preserved castles in Slovakia.

Ever since the 1970s the reconstruction work on castles has been more and more prevalent. And since entering the European Union in 2004 it has been given a substantial amount of funds to help with the conservation and reconstruction of castles. 

Why are there so many castles in Slovakia

Even though Slovakia is a small country, its position in the center of Europe has had a huge significance throughout history. What is now known as Slovakia has been a part of many kingdoms in the past. Hence why it has a truly enormous amount of castles. 

Its history and location have made it into a strategic region of Europe, where a lot of nobility resided in the past and built a lot of castles and manors.

The first castles – or fortified wooden forts – were built by Slavs in the 9th century. After the Mongol raids in the 13th century, the Kingdom of Hungary ordered and built many more, now stone, castles in the regions that are now Slovakia. 

Does Slovakia have most castles

Slovakia has a huge number of castles compared to its size. The country with the most castles is Germany, with an incredible 25,000+ castles. Slovakia on the other hand might look insignificant with its 180 castles.  

Nonetheless, Slovakia does hold a record regarding its castles. It has the largest amount of castles per capita in the world. You can find the entire list of all of Slovakia’s castles here. 

We have also made a shortened list of some of the most interesting and beautiful castles our country has to offer, for example:

  • Bojnice Castle
  • Orava Castle
  • Bratislava Castle
  • Red Stone Castle
  • Trenčín Castle
  • Ľupča Castle
  • Smolenice Castle

Who built castles in Slovakia

Bratislava Castle
Bratislava Castle

The story of Slovakia’s castles begins in the 9th century when Slavs began building wooden fortresses in present-day Slovakia, with about a dozen stone castles replacing them in the 11th century – including in Bratislava, Nitra, and Trenčín.

The best example of one of these constructions is perhaps the most well-known of Slovak castles – Bratislava Castle. Its first mention dates to the 10th century, but the castle hill was also inhabited in the Celtic and the Great-Moravian era. 

Mongol invaders in the 13th century had an impact on the importance of defense, and by the end of the century, around 150 castles had been built or fortified to protect the area from further raids. Later, many castles became administrative centers or living quarters for Hungarian nobles. 

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How old are the castles in Slovakia

The history of Slovak castles goes back to the 9th century when Slavs first began building wooden fortresses which were eventually replaced by stone castles in the 11th century. This is where we have the first documented proof of the oldest castles in Slovakia. 

The Devín, Bratislava, and Nitra castles are the oldest documented castles found in Slovakia. The Devín castle was likely first mentioned in written sources in 864 when Louis the German besieged Prince Rastislav in one of the frequent wars between the Franks and Great Moravia respectively in the “castle of Dowina”. 

The Nitra castle was built in the 11th century in the place of an earlier fort. The core of the castle is St. Emmeram’s Cathedral with the Bishop’s residence; the oldest surviving part is the Romanesque Church of St. Emmeram from the 11th century along with two other parts of the cathedral: the originally Gothic Upper Church from the 14th century and the Lower Church from the 17th century.

The construction of a new Bratislava castle of stone started in the 10th century, but work lagged. Under King Stephen I of Hungary, however, the castle was already one of the central castles of the Kingdom of Hungary.

It became the seat of Pozsony county and protected the kingdom against Bohemian (Czech) and German attacks and played an important role in throne struggles in the Kingdom of Hungary.

TIP: Check out my list of recommended Slovak products. They are perfect as gifts, or you will use them during your visit to Slovakia (Amazon links)

The largest castle in Slovakia

Spis Castle
Spis Castle

You might have heard or read somewhere that the Spiš castle is the largest in Slovakia. This, however, is false. At 8.4 hectares, the Nitra castle is the largest in all of Slovakia. 

Nitra Castle is a castle located in the Old Town of Nitra, Slovakia. It dominates the city and is a national cultural monument. It is the seat of the Diocese of Nitra.

It was built in the 11th century and consists of several parts. The core of the Castle is the cathedral with the adjacent Bishop’s residence.

The oldest surviving part of the Cathedral is the church of St Emeram from the 11th or 12th century. It was rebuilt after a fire in the second half of the 13th century and after Matúš Čáks soldiers destroyed it, a new church was built next to it in 1317.

Today, it forms together with the Upper and Lower Churches the most valuable structure in the area of the Castle – the Bishops Cathedral.

The originally Gothic Upper Church was built in the years 1333-1335 and three centuries later the Lower Church was added to it. The appearance of the Cathedral as we know it now is from the years 1710-1736 and its interior is also from that time.

Among the most valuable monuments of the interior is the main altar of the Lower Church made by the Austrian sculptor J. Pernegger who used the painting of D. Voltera as a model.

The originally Gothic Bishops Palace standing by these sacral buildings obtained its Late Baroque appearance in the second half of the 18th century.

Its outer fortifications with the oldest parts from the Romanesque period are especially interesting. The legendary Vazilova veža tower with a square ground plan was several times rebuilt and adapted in the Romantic style. Allegedly the Hungarian Prince Vazul was imprisoned in this tower.

The Castle area and the Bishops Cathedral of St Emeram are accessible to the public.

TIP: Check out the article below if you want to know more about Spis castle:
Spis Castle Slovakia: History, Facts, Opening Hours, Prices

Oldest castle in Slovakia

Devin Castle - Oldest castle in Slovakia
Devin Castle

The oldest castle in Slovakia is the Devín castle. It is a castle in Devín, which is a borough of Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. The site has been settled since the Neolithic Age and fortified since the Bronze and Iron Age and later by Celts and Romans.

The cliff (elevation 212 meters) is an ideal place for a fort due to its position at the confluence of the Danube and Morava rivers. The castle stands just inside Slovak territory on the frontier between Slovakia and Austria. The border runs from west to east along the Morava River and subsequently the Danube. 

The most photographed part of the castle is the tiny watchtower, known as the Maiden Tower. Separated from the main castle, it balances perilously on a lone rock and has spawned countless legends concerning imprisoned lovelorn daughters leaping to their deaths.

Since the 19th century as its history inspired several Romantic poets, and followers of Ľudovít Štúr, Devín has become an important national symbol for the Slovaks. It featured both on the reverse of the former 500 Czechoslovak koruna banknote and the 50 Halierov coin of the Slovak currency.

Famous Slovak castles

Bojnice Castle
Bojnice Castle

Bojnice Castle is a regular trip for schoolchildren as well as families with children. The castle stands at the foot of the Strážov Hills in the Upper Nitra basin. It is one of the oldest Slovak castles. 

The first written mention of its existence dates back to 1113. The first hillfort was wooden, today it is a stone castle. In the vicinity, there is a large park with the famous lime tree of King Matthias Corvinus, who liked to organize banquets and events under it. An attractive place is also a cave under the castle cliff, in which there are two lakes.

The most famous, Bratislava castle in Slovakia rises above the capital and is the scene of important cultural and social events. It is located on a rocky hill of the Little Carpathians above the Danube River.

Its construction began in the 9th century and already in the Great Moravian period, the castle represented the center of significant historical and social development. At the time when Bratislava was the coronation city of Hungary, the castle housed the monarch and the jewels of Hungarian kings were located there. 

On a large wooded hill in the village of Halič near Lučenec there is the Halíč Castle, whose first written mention dates back to the 14th century.

The completely renovated castle is now a favorite wedding venue for many couples and also serves as a luxury hotel with a restaurant. The castle was destroyed several times during its existence. 

In 1544, the fortress was demolished. It was rebuilt by Sigismund Forgáč in 1612. Since then, the castle has been regularly the center of border military operations and important manor meetings.

In 2009, its extensive reconstruction began, which turned the castle into a luxury castle hotel. Kkáva in the magnificent castle hall and a walk in the romantic surroundings of the forest park can also be enjoyed by visitors who do not have reserved rooms in the castle. It also features the Rosalia restaurant with many delicious dishes.


There are more than 180 castles and 425 chateaux in Slovakia. A large portion of them is in ruin, however. The oldest of them are hillforts, not fully preserved objects, but only remains of fortified settlements from prehistoric times to the early middle ages.

What helped Slovakia amass such a number of castles is its location. Being in the center of Europe, the land that is nowadays the Slovak Republic was historically a part of many kingdoms whose nobles built many castles in the surrounding area. 

Slovakia does not have the most castles. It does however have the most castles per capita in the world.

Castles in Slovakia were originally built by Slavs in the 9th century. And later in the 11th century and onwards it was Hungarian nobles who built a large number of Slovakia’s castles.

The history of Slovakia’s castles starts around the 9th century when Slavs first began construction of wooden fortresses which were slowly replaced by stone castles in the 11th century. 

The largest castle in Slovakia is not the Spiš Castle, but in fact, it is the Nitra castle at 8.4 hectares. The oldest castle in Slovakia is the Devín castle. Some of the more famous Slovak castles are Bratislava Castle, Devín Castle, Nitra Castle, and Galician Castle.

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