Located in the village of Zehra, the castle is one of the largest castles in Central Europe. But it stands out not only in its width but also in its height, as the fortress was built on a 200-meter rock. The 13th-century castle is a legacy of the Tatar invasion and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993.

Spiš Castle Details
Country Slovakia
Location Zehra, Spiš basin
Address Spišský hrad, 053 61 Žehra, Slovakia
Slovak name Spišský hrad
Distance from Bratislava 4 hours / 380 km
Opening hours Apr-Nov (09:00 - 16:00 or 18:00)
Closed December, January, February, March
Admissions 8-4 Euros
Time you need to visit 2 hours
Parking Free parking nearby (10 mins walk)
Website Website

Photos

Map - Where is the Spiš Castle?

Address, distance, approach, contact

The castle is located not far from Zehra, in the Spiš Basin, Slovakia. The castle is a comfortable driving distance from the Slovak Paradise. It's about 50 minutes by car.

  • Address: Spišský hrad, 053 61 Žehra, Slovakia
  • Distance from Bratislava: 4 hours / 380 km
  • Distance to the Slovak Paradise: 50 minutes / 48 km
  • Distance from Kosice: 1 hour / 65 km
  • Distance from Banská Štiavnica: 2.5 hours / 215 km
Spis Castle map

About the Castle

The castle consists of three parts. These three are the upper, middle, and lower courtyards. Throughout the history of the castle, the various parts have been added one after the other, supplemented and modernized by the current owners.

The excavation of the castle took almost 10 years in total. During this time the age of some parts of the castle was defined.

The oldest buildings are the circular tower (which has been renovated several times), the cistern, and the castle wall. In the 15th century, a new chapel was built, the castle tower was raised and fortified, and the Romanesque palace was rebuilt in Gothic style.

Later, in the 16th century, several buildings were also rebuilt, this time in Renaissance style.

Main gate

One of the most important parts of the castle was the huge main gate, where columns can be seen. Here was the first line of defence of the castle. Then came a deep ditch and then a high wall. Only then do we get to the 15th-century Gothic-style main gate, which had a trapdoor before it. The gate was also protected by a suspension bridge and an iron lattice.

Courtyards

At the gate, you reach the middle courtyard. This central courtyard housed the garrison and granary. From here you can go down to the lower castle on the left. The castle yard did not only supply the soldiers but also provide protection to the population from the area if necessary.

In the lower courtyard, you will find striking circular remains. This is the foundation of the 15th residential tower. The tower was protected by a huge moat and a pile wall, which also served as a temporary weapons depot. After the walls of the castle courtyard were built, the role of the tower diminished and lost its importance.

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It is also possible to get from the central castle courtyard to the Romanesque forecourt (this part was buried well before the excavations). Here you can see the ruins of the palace, the location of a mill, and a small rock cave.

From here you can reach the upper castle, to the citadel. It offers magnificent views of the surrounding landscape. In the middle of the citadel stands the old tower, erected in the middle of the 13th century.

Next to the old tower is a small chapel in Gothic style. Behind the chapel is the most valuable building of the castle - a huge, originally three-storey Romanesque palace, built in the 15th-16th centuries. It was rebuilt in the Gothic style in the 16th century.

History of the Castle

The interesting thing about the 634-meter rock is that two former fortresses stood before the Spiš Castle.

Between the 1st and 2nd centuries, the Celts first built a large fortress. 

Residential houses, buildings and stone roads appeared in the area of ​​the castle built here. Of course, these old buildings are no longer standing today, but here and there the walls can still be discovered in the courtyard.

Later, the locals built a second fort on the other side of the cliff, also made of stone. Unfortunately, this castle was later destroyed, but there was room for a building larger than both, the Spiš Castle.

The oldest part of the castle is the circular residential tower, the castle wall and the cistern. Both were erected between the 11th and 12th centuries. Several of the castle walls were also built, as the first collapsed during an earthquake in the 13th century.

To the castle was later added the Old Tower (it stands in the middle of the castle courtyard), the palace, and the rest of the upper castle. The palace is a Romanesque triangular building on the north side.

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The Spiš Castle is also a "product" of the Tatar invasion. In 1249, Hungarian king Béla IV. donated the land to the bishop of Spiš on the condition that he build a tower and a palace - at his own expense. 

It was then that the governor's palace, the first building added to the original castle, was erected. The castle soon became the centre of Spiš County. There were several battles around and for the castle.

The castle was owned (or wanted to be owned) by almost everyone who "mattered" in Hungarian history. It was owned by the rebel isp of Spiš, Elizabeth the Cuman (the mother of our king László), and then by the followers of Charles I of Hungary.

On one occasion, Matthew III Csák wanted to scratch the castle himself, but his efforts failed. The fortress was for a long time owned by the Zapolya family, to whom Matthias Corvinus donated the property.

The castle was confiscated from John Zapplya by the Habsburgs and given to the Thurzó family.  Eventually, the castle was acquired by the Csáky family by the sword and was inhabited until 1707. After leaving the castle, only a small garrison remained in the fort, and the huge complex began to decay.

In 1780, the soldiers stationed here tried to spice up their time (and the atmosphere as well) by making brandy in the cellar. But the soldiers did not notice that an error had slipped into the process and the castle basement had exploded.

They were able to put out the fire, but the castle burned down and the walls collapsed. The ruin remained in the possession of the Csáky family until 1948.

Opening hours

The castle is closed during the winter season, which usually runs from 1 December to 31 March. The gates of the castle, on the other hand, are open for visitors every day during the season.

  • Season: Apr 1 - Nov 30, every day
  • Closed: Dec 1 - Mar 31.
  • April: 09:00 - 17:00
  • May to September: 09:00 - 19:00
  • October: 09:00 - 17:00
  • November: 09:00 - 16:00

The box office closes 1 hour before the daily closing! After that, it is no longer possible to buy tickets that day.

Want more? Read this: Castles of Slovakia

Admissions

You need to buy a ticket to see Spiš Castle. You can buy tickets at the box office, there is no online ticket purchase.

  • Adult ticket: 8 euros
  • Student (19 - 26 years old): 6 euros
  • Children (6 - 18 years old): 4 euros
  • Under 6 years old: free
  • Tower entrance: 1 euro
  • Family ticket: 19 euros