The castle was probably built in the first half of the fourteenth century, after the capture and destruction of an older, nearby defensive site (the so-called Empty Castle) during the battles of magnate Matthew III Csák with the Hungarian king. It is often believed that it was erected to protect the road leading to Central Slovak mining towns, but it was quite far away from it, so it is more likely that it was built as the center of the noble estate of the Pekri family. In 1342, due to treason of members of this family, castle was confiscated. In the subsequent years of the fourteenth century, the owners of the castle often changed, which caused the building to decline and in 1415 it was already abandoned.
In the middle of the 15th century, the ruins of the castle were occupied by the army of former Hussites under command of Jan Jiskra, who founded fortified camp 500 meters from it. Due to their robbery, fortifications were captured by the army of King Matthias Corvinus. After these fights, the castle was rebuilt and it was then for the first time called Čabrad.
In 1511, the castle became the property of the Archbishop of Esztergom, whose initiative was rebuilt into an early modern fortress against the Turks. When Archbishop Tomáš Bakóci died, Čabrad was garrisoned by imperial troops, managed by the Habsburg supporters, the Pálffy family. After 1549, it had to be renewed by them, because of the damages suffered during the fights between the imperial troops and the Balass family, who had previously forcibly taken Čabrad from Pálffy. At the end of the 16th century, when the Pálffy family died out, Čabrad took over the palatine Štefan Illésházy. In 1619, the castle was acquired by the Koháry family, which in the following years transformed the building into a Baroque residence. The last owner permanently residing in the castle was Štefan Koháry. After his death in 1731 heirs moved to a more comfortable palace in Svätý Anton. The fall of the castle was accelerated by the owners themselves in 1812, when they set fire to it for fear of being taken over by robbers. From that time, the castle remain in a state of ruin.
The castle was erected on the hill elongated on the north-south line, which secured the stronghold with steep slopes on three sides, allowing the only convenient access from the north. The medieval, the oldest core of the castle consisted of a four-sided residential and defense tower with dimensions of 11 x 11 meters, placed in the corner of the quadrilateral circumference of the defensive walls on a plan similar to a rectangle. Due to its dominant position, considerable size and fulfilling a residential function, it can be considered a keep. The castle’s original building also included a well, supplying it with water.
As a result of the 15th century extension, the castle was enlarged by a fortified outer ward on the north side, protected by a four-sided tower on the western side. Also, the original perimeter of the walls was reinforced with an additional four-sided tower on the west side, and a small building was erected in the upper castle, in the north-west corner. An additional defensive wall was placed on the south-east end of the hill. It protected the access road to the castle located below, which arched from the south, north and north-west, through the outer ward, probably the drawbridge and to the upper ward. In the sixteenth century, the whole complex was surrounded by the outer circumference of the fortifications, reinforced with four-sided, horseshoe and polygonal towers. It is known from the inventory from the second half of the 15th century that there were many economic buildings in the castle, including a bakery, a granary and a well.
Bóna M., Plaček M., Encyklopedie slovenských hradů, Praha 2007.
Wasielewski A., Zamki i zamczyska Słowacji, Białystok 2008.