Blatnica – castle

History

   The beginnings of the castle date back to the end of the 13th century. Via Magna ran under it – a trade route from the upper Nitra region through the Turiec Basin to Silesia or Orava and further through the Polish lands to the Baltic Sea. The first written reference to the castle dates back to 1323, when the master Donč (Donch), an influential zupan and adviser of the Hungarian king, donated lands in its vicinity to his loyal servants: comes Folkos and Ipolit. According to the letter, Donč was the initiator of its construction and he owned it at that time.
   After the death of Donč in 1335, the castle passed into the hands of king Charles I of Hungary and his successors, on behalf of whom, until the end of the fourteenth century, the Blatnica was managed by Turcian zupans, wielding also the dignity of castle castellans. The situation changed when Sigismund of Luxembourg sat on the throne, who was always in debts. He pledged numerous castles, including Blatnica, which in 1399 received a nobleman Dominik Pogány and the prince of Opole, Władysław and his wife Euphemia. Between 1418 and 1421, the king managed to pay off the pledge, but in 1436 he again gave it to Pongrác from Sväty Mikuláš. In 1442, the ownership situation changed again, because the castle passed into the hands of the Necpál family, whose representatives until the 16th century lived property disputes with the knight of Polish origin, Piotr Komorowski, then ruling the entire Orava region in the name of Hungarian king and with Andrew Jušt and Beňadik Erdődy. The castle lost its original guard function at that time, and it became the residential and administrative seat of the feudal estate.
   After many changes of the owners, in 1539, Emperor Ferdinand I donated Blatnica to Révay family, who in the second half of the 16th and at the beginning of the 17th century considerably expanded the castle. However, this did not raise the defense values ​​of the stronghold: in 1605, it was occupied by the insurgents units  of Stephen Bocskai, and then in 1619 by the army of Gabriel Bethlen. Despite this, the inventory from 1678 did not indicate any serious damages. Three years later, the castle was taken over by kurucs of Emeric Thököly, and at the beginning of the next century, the insurgents of Francis II Rákóczi. During their ruling Blatnica in 1703, a great fire broke out in the castle, which destroyed a large part of the buildings. Révayas did not regain it until 1708, after insurgents lost the battle near Trencin. Thanks to the fact that Révayas did not join the Rakoczi uprising, their castle was not on the imperial list of fortresses intended for demolition. In 1744 the castle was renewed, but its significance deteriorated, and in 1760 it was destroyed by fire. After this event, it was not rebuilt and quickly fell into total ruin.

Architecture

   The castle was erected at the end of an oblong rock ridge, sloping on the eastern side with steep hillsides to the Gader Valley. The opposite south-west slope was much milder than on the other directions, and there the access road and later the outer ward were located. In its oldest form, the castle consisted of a massive oval tower with a diameter of 9.5 meters and at least three floors. The lowest one was occupied by a cellar probably intended for a warehouse or pantry, the middle part was designated for guard rooms (6 meters in diameter, illuminated only with slit windows), and the highest one had guard and defense function. The narrowest side of the tower was directed towards the access road and the place of possible danger. Relics of the walls on the north-east side indicate a defensive wall by the tower or the oldest residential building.
   A significant expansion took place in the fourteenth century at a time when the castle was ruled by royal castellans. To the east of the main tower, two meters thick defensive walls were erected, surrounding a narrow, 3-meter wide and 20-meter-long courtyard. Its part (or even the whole, depending on the theory) could have been intended for a residential building. The extreme north-eastern part of the ridge in the fourteenth or fifteenth century was occupied by a second, semicircular tower, as a result of which castle received a popular form in the Bohemia and Slovak territories: a two-tower layout with a residential building in the middle (like the Dobrá Voda, Kašperk or Liptovský Hrádok castles). The castle’s defenses were increased from the north by a semicircular earth rampart and a transversal ditch in the north-east. In the south-east, on the rocky terrace above the valley, stone-walled outer ward developed. Its economic buildings were initially only wooden.
   In the 16th century, the walls of the middle palace were raised, and as a result, it became equal to the height of both towers. Its large windows overlooked only the safer southern side, the castle’s outer ward side. Only shooting holes and latrines were used from the north. The new quadrilateral building was erected on the area of the second ward, and due to the small amount of space in the south-west, there were third ward, separated by a ditch and equipped with own defensive walls. The drawbridge between the two economic wards was protected with a semicircular, corner tower adapted to use firearms.

Current state

   The remains of the castle in the form of a ruin have survived to our times. On the forested hill, you can see the ruins of the upper castle – partially preserved walls of the gothic building and both towers. Below the trees you can see the walls of the former outer wards and the renaissance building. In the last period, the castle underwent renovation and security works combined with partial reconstruction.

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bibliography:
Bóna M., Plaček M., Encyklopedie slovenských hradů, Praha 2007.
Šimkovic M., Janura T., Hrad Blatnica, Bratislava 2012.

Wasielewski A., Zamki i zamczyska Słowacji, Białystok 2008.