Čachtice – castle

History

   The castle, aimed at protecting the Hungarian border, especially the valley of Myjava and the River Váh, as well as routes running there, was built in the second half of the 13th century (after 1260). Its foundation is attributed to Kazimir from the powerful family of Hunt-Poznan. In 1273, the castle was already strong enough, that it was one of the few who managed to repulse the armies of the king Ottokar II of Bohemia. At the end of the thirteenth century, it passed under the temporary control of the Hungarian magnate, Matthew III Csák, and after his death in 1321, because of the high strategic importance, for a long time it was in royal hands. Since 1392 the castle was governed by the voivode Stibor of Stiboricz, then his son of the same name, and from 1436 Michael Ország from Guta, who received Čachtice from king Sigismund of Luxembourg. His descendants held the castle until 1567.
   In 1569, the castle passed into the hands of the Nádasdy family. Francis Nádasdy gave it to his wife, Elizabeth Báthory, who lived there permanently after her husband’s death in 1604. The new owner, niece of the Polish king Stefan Báthory, has recorded in history as a supposed sadist murderess and is sometimes referred to as a “vampire from Transylvania”, because in the years 1604-1610 many women were killed in the residence. After the trial, Elizabeth was imprisoned in 1611 and walled behind a wall with an opening on one of the towers, where she died in 1614. After her death, the castle began to be managed by the castellans.
   In the years 1664-1670, for subsequent representatives of the Nádasdy family, the castle was rebuilt in the renaissance style, but in 1670 the renovation work was in vain due to the destructions caused by the imperial troops, which was the result of an unsuccessful anti-Habsburg conspiracy of Hungarian magnates led by Ferenc Wesselényi. During the anti-Habsburg uprising of 1708, Čachtice was captured by the army of Francis II Rákóczi, and then destroyed around 1715 during the recapture by the imperial soldiers. After this event, at the castle there were still some provisional repairs, but eventually it was soon abandoned and turned into ruin.

Architecture

   The castle was erected on a high limestone hill with a height of 375 meters above sea level. Its oldest part was the southern, corner tower and a small, surrounded by a defensive wall, courtyard at the highest point of the castle’s rock. The tower was in the shape of a pentagon with a spur turned towards the expected, greatest danger. With its massive shape, it covered buildings located behind it, and also had residential functions. The communication between its floors was provided by stairs placed in the thickness of the wall, and the lighting of the residential room was provided by a larger window with seats on the sides of the niche. On the north side of the tower, a roughly triangular courtyard was occupied by a residential wing on the east side and a rainwater tank.
   In the 14th century, a tower on the plan of a horseshoe was added to the north – eastern part of the castle. It was entirely advanced in front of the defensive circuit and probably had to increase the control on the road leading to the entrance gate. Entrance was also better secured and received a longitudinal foregate in the north-west corner. At the turn of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, in times of Stibor of Stiboricz and his son, the core of the castle was surrounded by an external wall, which from outside was reinforced with buttresses and equipped with a sidewalk for the defenders and a battlement equipped with arrowslits. In the sequence of the outer ring the eastern horseshoe tower was included, which was then also raised. Somewhat later, on the north side of the castle, the northern ward was surrounded by a wall and reinforced in the north-east by a single tower, open from the inside.
   The rapid development of firearms caused that in the second half of the fifteenth century, the upper castle was surrounded by another, third ring of the wall. However, unlike the earlier ones, in the south new fortifications were put on the rock ridge and ended with a polygonal, low tower with shooting holes adapted to firearms. Another tower within the wall of the second zwinger was located on the north-west side. It had rounded corners and, like the south tower, it was adapted to firearms. During this expansion, the older walls were raised, both the main circuit, the first zwinger wall, and the residential building. In the horseshoe tower, increased than once again, was placed chapel on the top floor. It was accessible through a saddle portal from a nearby defensive porch and illuminated with four narrow windows. At the turn of the fifteenth and sixteenth century, its facades were covered with murals imitating bossage.
   Transformations from the end of the 16th and 17th centuries focused on improving comfort and residential development. The courtyard of the upper castle was already surrounded by buildings from practically every side. This forced the walls to be strengthened from the outer west side with massive buttresses. Similar buttresses also strengthened the walls of the northern ward, which in the south-east were significantly thickened to accommodate new shooting positions. Another lower courtyard was created on the eastern and southern sides with a far-reaching entry gate. In the middle and lower castle (north and south wards), there were residential buildings for the crew and service, stables, kitchen, warehouses and other economic buildings. The road to the upper castle led through a semicircle through both wards and in the north sharply turned in the foregate of the upper castle. An additional protection was provided by the ditch along the south wall.

Current state

   The castle has preserved in the form of a ruin with a readable upper part, north and south ward and a dominant in the form of a horseshoe tower. The oldest pentagonal tower of the upper ward has also been partially preserved. After recent revitalization works, the castle is open to the public.

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bibliography:
Bóna M., Plaček M., Encyklopedie slovenských hradů, Praha 2007.
Wasielewski A., Zamki i zamczyska Słowacji, Białystok 2008.