Orava Castle (Oravský hrad)

Orava Castle



Location: 60 km (50 mi) North of Banska Bystrica   Map

Tel. (043) 581 61 11

Open: May- Mar: daily


Description of Orava Castle or Oravský Castle


Orava Castle or Oravský Castle is a medieval citadel situated 60 km (50 mi) North of Banska Bystrica in Slovakia. Orava Castle or Oravský Castle was constructed in 1267 on a site of older wooden fort that was destroyed by the Tatar invasion in the middle of the 13th century. The castle was increased over centuries of its existence. The most recent additions date back to the 17th century. By the turn of the 18th century Orava Castle lost most of its military strategic use and turned into a residence. In 1800 a devastating fire swept through the medieval fortress. Remaining ruins were abandoned and forgotten. The reconstruction began only in 1953 and today it is managed by Orava Museum that displays a collection of historic and archeological artifacts.



The Orava Castle Gate (part of the Orava Highlands), on which the Orava Castle rises above the Orava River and above the village of Orava Podzámok, has long been a fortified fortified settlement, protected from the north by a rock massif and from the south by a semicircular rampart. The highest part of the castle is at an altitude of 112 meters above the river Orava.

The castle ridge was inhabited in prehistoric times.

In the middle of the 13th century, a brick castle was probably built here on the site of a wooden castle, which is first mentioned in writing in 1267, when King Belo IV. he took over from Mike Balaš in exchange for Žilina, Varín and Sučany and became a royal property. In 1298 the castle belonged to the territory of Matúš Čák Trenčianský, after which it fell into the hands of Master Donč, in the 14th century King Karol Róbert, later other important nobles, such as the Comorian Count Leopold, Stibor of Stiborice and others. From 1441, Peter Komorovský was the castellan of the castle, who not only defended it against the Hussites, but after clever politics and negotiations, he eventually became the mayor of Orava, which was also reflected in the repair and fortification of the castle. In the 15th century, the castle became the property of King Matej Korvín, who took several measures for the safety of the castle and the territory of Orava. In 1534, the castle was acquired with the rank of mayor Ján of Dubovec. After his death, Václav Sedlnický Castle was managed by František I. Turzo from 1556, who bought it for a long-term lease for 18,338 gold coins, until the royal court reimbursed him for the costs incurred. Later, the castle was owned by his son George VII. Turzo, who acquired it in 1606 as a permanent and hereditary property by sword and piglet. Juraj Turzo had one son Imrich and 7 daughters.

With the death of Imrich Turz, the family died by the sword. Since Juraj Turzo did not want his property to be divided, after the death of a single male descendant, he set out in his will the principle of the indivisibility of property, only the proceeds from it. In 1626, 7 daughters of Juraj Turz gathered at Lietava Castle and founded the so-called Orava composer - co-ownership (Orava castle estate), which always had one composer elected - the director who managed these assets. Between 1556 and 1621, the Turzovci family gradually rebuilt and fortified the castle.


The castle was built on a strategically important place on the Hungarian-Polish road (formerly also an important amber road) near the customs station in Tvrdošín and since 1370 it has also been a county castle. The complex of buildings of the upper, middle and lower castle, occupying the three high terraces of the castle rock, was built gradually from the middle of the 13th to the beginning of the 17th century. The oldest part was the palace on the upper castle secured by fortifications in the area of ​​today's middle castle. Major building alterations took place at the end of the 15th and the beginning of the 16th century, when they built a residential palace in the middle castle, reinforced on the sides by circular bastions. At that time, they built and strengthened the fortifications in the lower castle.

The Turzovci family resumed further construction activity in the second half of the 16th century by reconstructing the lowered upper castle and building the so-called Turzov Palace, completed to the western bastion of the middle castle. The result of their construction activities at the beginning of the 17th century was the construction of a palace and the reconstruction of the fortifications in the lower castle, which gave the entire castle complex its present appearance. The Orava Castle was ruled by a busy military and social life, especially in the Middle Ages, when it was owned by Peter Komorovský and Ján Korvín, but also during the Turzov family (1550 - 1621), after whose death (1621) it became the seat of the so-called Orava composorate. During the riots in the second half of the 17th century, he was seized for a time in 1672 by peasant insurgents under the leadership of Gašpar Pik. During the uprising of Francis II. Rákoci Castle was conquered by insurgents under the command of Alexander Károly in 1703. A few months later, the castle was besieged by imperial troops until 1709, when the castle garrison surrendered.

In 1800, a fire broke out in the castle, probably because a spark jumped out of the chimney, the roof ignited and from there the fire spread to the whole castle. Partial rescue work was carried out by František Ziči and in the years 1906 - 1912 the central part was restored by Jozef Pálfi. Repair and reconstruction work was done at the castle at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. During World War II, German troops used the castle as an artillery observatory. After Soviet artillery fired a volley of rocket launchers at the building, the Germans decided not to risk damaging the monument and withdrew from the castle grounds. However, the generous restoration of the entire castle did not begin until 1953 to 1968 (project by K. Chudomelka and K. Chudomelková, Stavoprojekt Bratislava, 1955), after the completion of which it became a dignified seat of the Orava Museum.