Trenčín Castle (Trenčiansky hrad)

Trenčín Castle



Location: 80 km (50 mi) Northeast of Trnava  Map

Tel. (032) 743 5657 daily

Museum: Mierovi Namestue 46

Tel. (032) 743 4431

Open: May- Oct: 9am- 5:30pm

Nov- Apr: 9am- 3:30pm


Description of Trenčín Castle

Trenčín Castle is a medieval citadel situated 80 km (50 mi) Northeast of Trnava, Trenčín Region in Slovakia.  This strategic location of Trenčín Castle had military fortifications since the time of the Roman Times. There is still a preserved inscription of military victory of the Roman legion stationed in Laugaricio (Roman name for ancient Trenčín) that occurred in 179 AD. Wooden fortifications unfortunately were razed by the invading barbaric tribes. However oldest preserved structure on the ground of the citadel is a stone rotunda erected here in the 9th century. Its ruins are found underneath a Barbara Palace. Current medieval castle was constructed in the 13th century by Baron Jekab Cseszneky, sword bearer of King Bela VI. In the early 14th century it was transferred to Matthew Csák,  "Lord of the river Váh and the Tatra Mountains". He added an imposing Matúš Tower that raises over the citadel. The Well of Love that is situated within the imposing keep was allegedly dug by Turkish prince Omar who wanted to rescue his beloved Fatima who was imprisoned here.


Some old names
1193 LAUGARICIO de Trenchin
1208 Trincinensis
1229 Trinchiniensis
1232 Trency

Trenčín Castle was probably built on the site of the fort. The first demonstrable building on the hill was the Great Moravian four-encapsulated rotunda from the 9th century and later a stone residential tower, when the castle served to protect the Kingdom of Hungary and the western border. At the end of the 13th century, it became the property of the palatine Matúš Čak, an important oligarch who controlled large areas and became the legendary "lord of the Vah and the Tatras". Its construction activity can be observed especially during the expansion and modification of the block residential tower from the 11th century, to which a residential palace in a massive fortification was added. The tower, still called Matúš's, is the defining element and dominant feature of the wide silhouette. After Matúš's death, the castle belonged to the Hungarian monarch until the end of the 15th century. The upper castle was extended by King Louis of Anjou with a new palace and fortifications. Sigismund of Luxembourg donated the castle to his wife Barbora, for whom he had a new palace and chapel built in the first third of the 15th century. All these buildings have been partially restored and are now used for museum purposes. The 15th century was a century of further strengthening of the fortifications caused by the Hussite expeditions, which at that time were heading to Slovakia. At the end of the 15th century, Štefan Zápoľský acquired the castle together with the town and began extensive reconstructions. The castle buildings were the target of Turkish expansion as early as the beginning of the 16th century. Despite Zápoľský's fortification work, the castle was conquered in 1527 by Katzianer (General of King Ferdinand I). The restoration and expansion of the extensive fortifications, which places Trenčín Castle next to Spiš Castle and Devín Castle among the largest European castles, took place between 1540 and 1560. At that time, they built an artillery star defense according to the designs of Italian architects and modernized buildings according to period models. The silhouette of the castle has also changed - the high Gothic roofs have been replaced by horizontal Renaissance attics with swallowtail tails, which were a typical Italian element of the 16th century. In 1790, a fire spread in the town, which also engulfed the castle. In the middle of the 19th century, when the ideas of monument care began to pave the way in Hungary, they preserved damaged buildings and thus secured them from further disintegration. Since the end of the 1950s, the castle has undergone a comprehensive restoration and conservation of the fortifications. The restored buildings are gradually being used for museum purposes and for exhibitions.



The Trenčín Castle complex consists of a characteristic set of castle palaces with the dominating Matúš Tower, which is adjacent to the representative Gothic palaces - Matúšov, Ľudovítov, Barborin, and a chapel. The foundations of the pre-Romanesque carner and the remains of a circular rotunda, which probably disappeared at the beginning of the 15th century, have been preserved in the courtyard. The buildings in the lower part of the castle were characterized mainly by a defensive and economic function. It is dominated by a cannon bastion attached to the chapel and the remains of farm buildings and a mill, which were found archaeologically and marked in the foundations. The famous Well of Love has been preserved in the courtyard, but despite the legend, Katzianer's soldiers began to dig it around 1557 and completed it between 1564 and 1570 (according to other sources, the well was dug by Trenčian subjects). There is a 14th century squaring on Matúš's tower.



The premises of Matúš's tower document the living of the nobility from the middle of the 11th century, later modified in Gothic style and made accessible by a new staircase, which was added to the older building at the end of the 13th century. The interior of Barborinho Palace and the cannon bastion has a modernly reconstructed vaulting system. In the adjoining palaces, a lapidarium of stone architectural articles has been installed, found in a secondary position during the restoration. Remains of palaces with murals from the Gothic and Renaissance periods. Gradually, other interiors are being reconstructed and individual exhibitions are made available in them.


Current status

The castle is after countless reconstructions, as it was completely destroyed by fire in 1790 and until the middle of the 20th century it stood practically as a ruin above the town. Today, the castle still has exhibits related to the history of the region and the castle itself. A rare permanent exhibition is the extensive family and picture gallery of the Ilesházy family, which is located on two floors of the Zápoľský Palace and on the first floor of the Ľudovít Palace. This picture gallery is one of the largest family galleries in Slovakia. An exposition of valuable weapons from the 12th to the 19th century is installed on the second floor of the Ľudovít Palace. The fascinating exposition is the part dedicated to the pre-Romanesque rotunda, where there are archeological finds that tell about the history not only of the castle itself, but also of the town and its surroundings. Visitors can choose a tour of a small or large circuit. Within the small circuit, the visitor will learn about the history of the castle, visit the exhibition of weapons and the tower, within the large circuit, all accessible expositions are visited. The castle is open all year round (except 3 days a year). Information on opening hours and admission prices can be found on the official website of the Trenčín Museum.

In April 2019, the renovation of the administrative building with the cash registers and the café should be completed. Pottery and a kiln from the 13th century were discovered during the work.

The view from the gallery of Matúš's tower is unique. There is an open view of the White Carpathians - Vršatské bradlá, to the west towards Drietomský Žľab. Adjacent to them are the terrains and villages on the Považský podolí, the wide landscape of the Trenčín basin with the distant point of Beckov Castle. To the south, the view of the silhouette of Považský Inovec dominates. When viewed from the bottom, the busy city architectures of Trenčín attract attention. These contrast with the peaceful forest environment of the Brezina Forest Park to the south. To the south, however, the view is particularly attractive for the massive Gothic and Renaissance fortifications, which run far into the silence of the forest in Brezina.



ŽSR, SAD Trenčín. We can get to the castle directly from the city center either on Matúšova Street or via the reconstructed steep castle stairs that lead from the city gate to the Gothic church on the castle hill. From the train station we walk through the park and the underpass next to the Elizabeth Hotel (a Roman sign on the rock can be seen from the 1st floor of the hotel) to the museum. From there up between the old town houses to the castle. We can also use the route, which goes from the Elizabeth Hotel next to the museum on Matúš Čák Street to the parish church, where it leaves the castle and town fortifications - probably the original road next to the castle.