Date updated: 03/02/2023
Trenčiansky Castle (Trenčiansky hrad) is the jewel of Trenčín. Since time immemorial, it has been guarding the trade routes connecting northern Hungary and the Central Slovakian mines with Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia and Poland.
History of Trenčianske Castle
The history of the castle goes back to the 11th century, when a dwelling tower and a rotunda were built. At the end of the 13th century, these buildings were taken over by Matúš Čák, owner of about 50 castles all over Slovakia, who was called "Pan Váh and Tatra". Along with them came Matúšova Tower (Matúšova veža), originally built in Romanesque style and later rebuilt in Gothic style. It was the highest point of the castle with an observation platform.
After the death of Matús Čák in 1321 and the subsequent long siege by the army of King Charles I. Róbert of Hungary, the castle became the property of the Hungarian crown, and the owners developed the castle grounds as they saw fit.
Trenčín Castle is divided into levels. Below the Matúšova Tower (Matúšova veža) there are several rather ascetic palaces.
King Louis I the Great (Ľudovít I) had his palace Ľudovít palác, where furniture and furnishings from the 17th and 19th centuries can be seen today.
Sigismund I of Luxemburg gave Trenčiansk Castle to his wife Barbora Celjská, who had another Barborin palace built.
The 15th century was a century of modernising fortifications and building new ones.
Pohľad na Trenčiansky hrad, Július Török, 1956
At the end of the 15th century, Štefan Zápoľský (Štefan Zápoľský) became the owner of the castle and the entire town. The new owner embarked on an extensive reconstruction and fortification of the castle. The Zápoľský Palace (Palác Zápoľských) was also built, which is considered the youngest palace within the Trenčiansk Castle. The Zápoľský family owned the castle until 1527, during which time they expanded it into its present-day size.
Following the death of King Louis II (Ľudovít II) of Hungary and Bohemia in 1526, there was a struggle for the crown between Ferdinand and Ján I Zapoliai (Ján I). Also in 1526, Trenčiansk Castle was besieged by Ferdinand I's army. After prolonged artillery bombardments, the castle surrendered. The walls of the castle were severely damaged.
After the siege, the castle was rebuilt and modernised by 1560. A unique defensive complex known as the Southern Fortification was built on the southern side of the castle. This complex consisted of three walls divided by two moats and two bastions where artillery could be positioned. On the remaining sides, along the rocky cliffs, the castle was defended by only one wall.
In 1596 the castle passed into the possession of Ilešházi family, who ruled it until 1834.
In 1663, Turkish troops were 70 km away from Trenčiansk Castle, and the owners of the castle asked the Hungarian Crown to send additional forces to oppose them. A German garrison arrived to help, forcibly drove out the legitimate owners. The soldiers who occupied the fortress caused a lot of trouble for the town, and the inhabitants had to provide for their upkeep. The imperial German garrison remained in Trenčín until 1782, after which the Ileszases were able to return to the desolate castle. Plans to overhaul the castle were disrupted by a fire. On 11 June 1790 a huge fire destroyed the castle and the town of Trenčín itself.
The last owner of Trenčín Castle was Ifigénia De Castris D´Harcourt, who donated the castle to the city of Trenčín in 1905.
The overall reconstruction of the Trenčín Castle did not begin until 1956, and finishing work is still continuing today.
In the lower part of Trenčianske Castle you can see the barracks, the gladomornja, the bastion and the "well of love".
The barracks now houses an exhibition of medieval and later cold and firearms.
"The Gladomornja was originally built as an observation tower and later it was used as a prison. At present, it contains replicas of medieval torture instruments.
The legend of the love story of the Turkish boy Omar and the beautiful girl Fatima. Fatima was the captive of Štefan Zápoľský and Omar had to extract water from the rock in Trenčianske Castle in order to set her free. For three years Omar and his assistants dug the well, finally they succeeded. When Omar took Fatima away from the castle, she lost her veil and the oldest inn in Trenčín was located at the site, now the Fatima Restaurant.
It is also possible to walk around the castle on your own, without a guide. If you know the history of the castle beforehand and know the route you'll be taking, a guided walk is a good idea. You will have to pay for the entrance anyway. Numerous tourists recommend visiting Trenčín Castle in the autumn. Surrounded by golden leaves and heavy clouds, it looks especially majestic. Slovakia has a harsh climate, so any time of year is a good time to visit.
Once you get to this mysterious place, don't be surprised by what you see around you. A forge is still functional there, horses graze in the meadows around the castle, and in the courtyard there is a working well approximately 15 metres deep, which is called the Love Well. Swordsmanship training and actual duels used to take place right next to it in ancient times. This is how people used to win the heart of a lady they loved. It's as if you're transported a few centuries back in time, forgetting that around Trenčiansk Castle you can hear the buzz of modern life, cars and shopping centres, and people don't ride horses or use swords any more.