""Hrad" Castles Galore!" Slovakia Things to Do Tip by lmkluque
Slovakia Things to Do: 218 reviews and 337 photos
In the USA, we have no real castles so of course, they are a fascinating aspect to any trip through Europe. In Fance I saw a castle and in Denmark I saw a castle but in Czechoslovakia they were every where! Just on the road from Kosice to Vlachovo I saw two. I don't remember the name of the first I saw, but at the time it was being used to house artists and writiers. I didn't have a tour of the place, maybe that's why I've forgotten the name.
Hrad is the Slovak word for castle, citadel and fort and the castles I saw were at one time all of those. It seems that the Tartars were avid invaders in medieval times and these massive structures were built to protect the feudal lord and all his minions from being ravaged. The "Hrad" was usually built high on a hill near a river and protected by a thick wall surrounding it. The castles I saw in Slovakia were more utilitarian and bucolic in appearance than the castles in other parts of Europe. This is probably because in Slovakia they were built much earlier. In the eleventh and twelfth centuries the castle system in Slovakia was built to protect each area and to guard the roads from invading attacts.
That is probably why I saw the second, Krasna Horka castle, on the road from Kosice to Vlachovo. It was in the valley of the Slovak Ore mountains on the top of a conical hill near Roznava. It has been well preserved and as an artifact of the lost feudal society it has become a Slovak National Cultural Monument.
The largest of all is Spissky hrad (Spis Castle) located in the Spis region, just east of Poprad. In 1120 it was used as a boundry fort on the northern frontier of a feudal Hungarian state. It grew larger over the centureies and there is a brutal / romantic legend in it's history. In 1993 Spissky hrad was selected as an Unesco World Cultural Heritage Site. If you only have time to see one castle this is the one to choose.
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