Visit Spis castle Slovakia – 30 things you need to know about this majestic castle
One of our stops on the trip around Eastern Slovakia with dad was also the Spis castle. How could we even miss this majestic castle, the most photographed site in Eastern Slovakia, not far from Kosice region? Would be such a shame!
Visit Spis castle Slovakia
Before you visit Spis castle, have a read about the most important facts.
30 things to know about Spis castle:
1. Spis castle is called Spišský hrad in Slovak.
2. Spis castle is the most visited castle in Kosice region.
3. Spis castle is located just 4 km from little town Spisske Podhradie and 75 km from Kosice. It lies between the town of Spisske Podhradie and the village of Zehra.
4. The castle is located at 634 m above sea level on a travertine hill.
5. Covering the area of more than 4 hectares makes it one of the biggest castles in Central Europe. If it is THE largest castle site by area is still debatable, but most probably yes.
6. Below the Spis castle I read that it’s the 6th big castle site in the world.
7. The Spis castle dates back to the 12th century and it was built on a place of an earlier castle.
8. The first written mention is from 1214 when the castle belonged to the Royal Dynasty of Arpad and Anjou.
9. The oldest well-preserved written mention of the castle is from 1249.
10. The oldest, still standing part of the castle is the Romanesque Palace from the 12th and 13th century. Another oldest part was the tower from the same century, but it burned down and instead of it a new tower was built on its place in the 13th century. The original tower was 22 m high, the second one we can see now is 19.5 m high.
11. The Romanesque Palace was originally a 3-storey building but the Thurzo family decided to add one more floor to it. That’s why when you look at the palace windows, it looks so weird.
12. The castle area was doubled in the 14th century with building the second extramural settlement.
13. In the 15th century the Spis castle was completely rebuilt by the Zapolya family who made late Gothic transformations. Thus the castle became an Aristocratic residence more comfortable to live in.
14. Also the Chapel of St. Elizabeth Durinska of Hungary was built inside of the castle in the 15th century.
15. Until 1464 the castle was owned by the kings of Hungary.
16. After the kings of Hungary the owners of the castle were first the Zapolya family (Zápoľský in Slovak), then the Thurzo family (Thurzovci in Slovak) and then the Csaky family.
17. During the reign of the Thurzo family, the castle was rebuilt in the Renaissance style.
18. The last family to own the Spis castle was the Csaky family. Then after the WWII the castle became the national property of the state of Czechoslovakia, later on Slovakia. Now it still belongs to the state.
19. The castle owners had to pay big roof taxes, and a lot of money to heat up the many castle rooms. As the castle became a very expensive place to live in, the Csaky family decided to abandon it in the 18th century. Then it was inhabited by soldiers only who would gather there.
20. In 1780 the castle burned down. There are three theories explaining why it happened: or it was hit by the lightning, or the soldiers were not careful enough and they put it on fire, or the Csaky family itself decided to burn it on purpose after abandoning it.
21. Because the castle was built on a travertine hill with travertine materials, it was very difficult to dig a well there. That’s why a cisterne was made to collect rain water which was then used even for the castle owners baths.
22. Until the 16th century they would eat just twice per day. Since the 16th century 3 daily meals became a rule.
23. In the end of the 16th century the castle owners would eat 30 to 100-course meals! Can you even imagine that many dishes?! Some dishes on the table were just to please the eye.
24. In 1961 the Spis castle was declared the national cultural monument.
25. In december 1993 the Spis castle was registered on the UNESCO list thus becoming 1 of 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the area, together with Zehra Church of holy Spirit, Spisske Podhradie town and Spisska Kapitula.
26. The castle was partly reconstructed in the second half of the 20th century, together with an archaeological research carried out there.
27. Some of the found artifacts and reconstructed sections form now part of the Spis Museum inside of the castle. We can observe there knight armour, medieval weapons, a traditional medieval kitchen, torture chamber etc.
28. A couple of movies were shot at the Spis castle, such as The Dragon Heart (1992) and The Last Legion (2007)
29. On the Northeastern slope of the Spis castle hill we can observe a gigantic stone geoglyph. Its building was guided by the Australian artist Andrew Rogers in 2008. The stone pattern depicts a horse to commemorate a Celtic coin with a horse found in the Spis castle during the archaeological research. The 100 x 100 metre big geoglyph is made of 1 metre high and 1 metre wide travertine stone which can be visible even from the highway. What a unique thing to add to already a pretty majestic Spis castle, right?
30. There’s a cave called the Dark Cave situated on the Northwest slope below the castle. In 2003 bones of a merchant with his collection of silver Roman coins were found in the cave.
I also played with the castle photos a little bit 🙂
Below you can watch my full video in Slovak to find out more about the Spis castle. I even managed to record two praire dogs:
TIP: read about other must-do’s in Spisske Podhradie.
The Spis castle is located in Presov region. It is one of the UNESCO sites that are within 100 minutes by car from Kosice, the second biggest town in Slovakia. I recommend you to check unesconadosah website to find out more about the other sites. Also Kosice region website is great for information about the area in general.