Slovakia is a beautiful country with a rich history. There are many castles or chateaus, and it would take a lifetime to explore them all. That's why it is best to choose some castles near you, so you can get an idea and visit at least a few of them. I've listed the best castles in the western part of Slovakia, and if you are staying in Bratislava, each of them is reachable within an hour. So, hop on the bus, train, car or bicycle, and follow in the footsteps of former kings.
Bratislavský Hrad, together with the UFO Tower, are the dominant features that define the skyline of Bratislava, and you will see them on most postcards. Bratislavský Hrad was built in the 9th century, rebuilt several times over the years, and recently renovated as well. Exteriors contain gothic and renaissance elements. Although the castle was rebuilt into baroque style, a part of the castle is also a beautiful English-styled park. Now it is open for the public, and you can see several exhibitions from its parent institution - the Slovak National Museum. If you are lucky, you can also see the Slovak Prime Minister or other prominent officials, since one room of the castle is in use for the National Council meetings. In 1992, a new constitution of independent Slovakia was signed here, so the Bratislavský Hrad castle played an essential role in our history. Additionally, you can get the best views of the city from this castle!
The capital of Slovakia, Bratislava, has more castles than just Bratislavský Hrad. The second most famous castle in Bratislava is the Devín Castle. It was built in the year 864, which makes it one of the oldest forts in Slovakia. Nowadays, we can see only its ruins, but back in time, it was a significant castle, due to its optimal strategic position between Slovak and Austrian borders. Castle's primary purposes were the protection of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the education of priests. Since then, it became an inspiration for many romantic poems, and quickly became an essential symbol of Slovakia. For example, Ľudovít Štúr, who invented the Slovak language as we know it, used to organize annual meetings at the Devín Castle and many people still follow this tradition and once a year visit the place.
Smolenický Zámok is a castle that lies in the peaceful village of Smolenice, that counts no more than 3000 inhabitants. That makes it a perfect place for a romantic getaway. Smolenický Zámok was built in the 15th century, but the current shape was achieved through the renovations carried out in the 20th century, by Bavarian architect Pavol Reiter. The Kreuzenstein Castle near Vienna inspired him, so it is no coincidence that Smolenický Zámok may look familiar to you, especially if you have visited Kreuzenstein in Austria. Unfortunately, the castle was destroyed during the Second World War and had to be rebuilt again. Nowadays, the castle serves as an important congress center, and it is open to the public only during July and August. Therefore, you better hurry up to visit!
Soak up the atmosphere and explore the best castles in Western Slovakia. In case you still don´t have enough of old lore and glimpses of history, you can continue to walk in the footsteps of kings and check out the castles in Eastern Slovakia.
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