Zvolen Deserted castle – one of the biggest castles in Europe
History of Zvolen Deserted castle
- The archaeological study in the area proved that the 2 hills on which the Deserted castle stands, were thanks to their strategic position inhabited already in the late Stone Age.
- The first stone castle was built there in the end of the 12th century and mentioned for the very first time in the Gesta Hungarorum chronicle in the beginning of the 13th century.
- The castle was partly burnt down in the 13th century.
- The largest part of the castle complex was constructed from the 13th to 15th century.
- The present castle has 2 parts: Upper castle (”Horny hrad” with the main entrance) and Lower castle (”Dolny hrad”). Both of them used to be surrounded by huge fortifications.
- The castle was named differently throughout the history. It was called for example Boršov Zvolen, then its Northern part also the Donc castle (”Dončov hrad” in Slovak). Afterwards, for many centuries it was simply denominated as the Zvolen castle (”Zvolensky hrad”).
- However, when a new castle was built in the Zvolen city center (”Zvolensky zamok”), to diferrentiate between them easier, this one on the hill I talk about here was called Old Zvolen castle (”Stary Zvolen”). So once more to make it clear: Zvolen castle is the castle in the Zvolen city center, while the castle outside of Zvolen was Old Zvolen castle, and now it’s called Deserted castle.
- Since the end of the 18th century the Old Zvolen castle has been called ”Pusty hrad” in Slovak; which literally translates into English as ”Deserted” or ”Abandoned” castle.
- It is said that fake coins were made at the castle during the reign of count Demeter. Ceramic bowls used for coining and 71 pieces of silver were found at the castle during the archaeological excavations, which only proves the fact of fake coin making.
- In 1944 a small treasure with old bronze artifacts was found in the Upper castle.
- One of the legends says that the Deserted castle was haunted by a monk who had a hoof instead of a foot.
- Another legend says there’s a massive treasure full of silver, gold and jewels hidden under the castle.
- The main archaeological research started in 1992. It was also the year since which the Deserted castle is being reconstructed.
What you need to know about Deserted castle Zvolen nowadays
- The castle is located just 2 km Southwest from Zvolen city center and it’s easy to get up there. You can go by car, cycling or walking. Different routes will lead you to the castle from Zvolen town if you decide to go hiking. There’s a parking lot below the castle where you should park your car. Unless you have a special permission or you work there, cars are not allowed to drive all the way up to the main entrance of the castle.
- There’s 2 different ways to enter the castle complex. You can walk in through the gate of the Upper castle and then walk down to the Lower castle; or vice versa.
- The Upper castle is nicely renovated and there’s different events taking place in summer.
- The Lower castle is under reconstruction.
- Both the Upper and the Lower castles have incredible views of Zvolen town, 2 rivers, surrounding hills and villages. Personally, I prefer the view from the Upper castle, as it seems more magical.
- You can spot a number of original castle stones around the Lower castle. It’s easy to tell the difference between original stones and those already renovated.
- The Royal residential tower at the Lower castle dates back to the beginning of the 13th century. Entering the tower remains, you will step directly into the cellar and then see the remains of 3 original storeys above. The reconstructed walls of the tower give you an idea of how high the whole tower was back in the day.
- Deserted castle used to be way bigger than its remains we can see in the present. Its original 76,000 m² made it one of the largest castle complexes in the Central Europe, together with the more famous Spis castle we have in Eastern Slovakia.
It’s even said that the Pusty hrad was one of the largest medieval castles in Europe.
- The Zvolen Deserted castle is now a National Cultural Monument.
- No need to pay any entrance fees. In 2018 when I visited, the castle was open to the public for free. There’s no closed gates so you can enter any time of the day.
TIP: Do you like castles? Then check my article about 10 top castles in Central Slovakia. I wrote about other 9 cool castles and manor-houses in that area. The Deserted castle Zvolen is not the only one found there 🙂