The oldest written record of the settlement Bojnice, then described as a outer ward of the hillfort, dates back to 1113. Initially, it was a timber castle, gradually rebuilt using stone. It is believed that this took place under Kazimir of the Hunt-Poznan family, shortly after the Mongol invasion of 1241. The first source information about the medieval stone castle appeared in 1299, when it was taken from the sons of Kazimir by the Hungarian magnate Matthew III Csák, who ruled sovereignly and ruthlessly the areas of today’s western Slovakia. After the fall of his authority and death in 1321, Bojnice returned to the king’s hands, and from 1393 passed to the Jelšav family (Ilsvai). In the next century, in the years 1430 – 1485, the castle belonged to the descendants of Onufry Bardy from France. In their times, among others, it resisted the attack of the Hussite troops. Then, along with the surrounding estates, it passed to prince John Corvinus, the natural son of king Matthias Corvinus, from 1494 it was the property of the Zapolya family, and since 1526 Turzon family.
In 1646 Bojnice became the property of the aristocratic Pálffy family, whose members significantly rebuilt the castle. First in the second half of the 17th century it was given the appearance of an early baroque residence, then on initiative of count Jan Pálffy, the building acquired its present fairy-tale, ahistorical, neo-gothic shape. The rebuilding took place in 1889-1910. In the nineteenth century, the last owner of the castle and the whole land Bojnice was count János Ferenc Pálffy. After his death, the heirs sold the castle, and after the Second World War it was confiscated by the state.
The castle was built on a low, rocky hill, connected in the Middle Ages with the Bojnice settlement by wood and earth fortifications (replaced by stone walls only in the 17th century). The original castle from the 13th-14th century consisted of a perimeter ditch and defensive walls of an oval shape, crowned with a breastwork with a battlement. A residential building was attached to the inner face of the wall on the east side. The water was provided by a cistern on the courtyard, connected through a cave under the castle with a nearby lake.
At the end of the 15th century, the stronghold was extended by another, outer ring of defensive walls, surrounding the entire upper castle and separating the surrounding belt of the outer bailey. New fortifications were carried out in straight lines, and towers were located in the corners. Among them was a four-sided north tower housing the gate passage, and the other on the eastern side, also four-sided, was facing the settlement. The next ones were located on the south and south-west sides.
In the 16th century, the upper castle was reinforced with a semi-cylindrical cannon tower from the east side. A pentagonal bastion was also erected on the north side, protruding entirely in front of the perimeter of the outer defensive wall and connected to the newly created zwinger (outer) wall. Another bastion was placed on the opposite, southern side of the fortifications, and the four-sided gate tower was preceded by a foregate. During the Turzon times, the residential buildings of the upper castle were also enlarged (among others, the northern wing equipped with a wide staircase was enlarged and rebuilt) and due to the thinness of the free space on the oldest courtyard, new buildings were erected on the surrounding outer ward, which in effect was divided into two parts.
Currently, the neo-gothic building houses exhibitions of an artistic and historical museum. One of the most unique and valuable works is a late-gothic paintings set. The stalactite cave under the castle, which is connected to a deep well, is also part of the castle exhibition. The annual International Festival of Ghosts and Spooks, is the best known of the many events taking place in the castle.
Bóna M., Plaček M., Encyklopedie slovenských hradů, Praha 2007.
Wasielewski A., Zamki i zamczyska Słowacji, Białystok 2008.