Devín – castle

History

   The first traces of a man in Devin date back to the fifth millennium BC, and the first defensive elements, later developed by the Celts into a full settlement, were created in the second millennium BC. In the Roman period, on the site of a later castle, there was a Roman border post. The presence of the Romans ended around 400 AD, when Limes Romanus gradually ceased to exist as the northern border of the Roman Empire. The first historical mention of the fortress itself dates from the ninth century AD. At that time it was part of the cradle of the Slovak nation, the Great Moravian state. After its fall, Devin often changed owners and was owned by successive Hungarian nobility families. The stone, medieval castle was built at the end of the twelfth or early thirteenth century and served as the border fortress of the Hungarian state. The gothic shape to the whole castle complex, gave the Hungarian Gara family, which came into possession of Devín in the fifteenth century.

   In the 16th century, the Bathory family was the masters here. They moved the Croats to their lands, from parts occupied by the Turks. The castle was in the hands of the Pálffy family for the longest time, from the 17th century to 1932, when it was bought by Slovaks. In 1809, the castle was blown up by the Napoleonic army and has been a ruin since then. Since 1961, it is available to visitors, but in the 1980s part of castle was closed for political reasons. The border with Austria runs just behind the castle rock and the communist authorities were afraid that someone might try to escape.

Architecture

   The castle had an irregular structure, adapted to the shape of the castle’s rock. Until recently it was believed that the oldest medieval site was a hexagonal tower, protected from the north-eastern side by a defensive wall and having a small courtyard at the very top of the hill. Probably, however, the upper castle did not initially have a tower, but only a polygonal defensive wall measuring 33 by 25 meters.
  
In the fifteenth century Nicholas Garay extended the outer bailey to the middle castle in the gothic style. In the south-eastern part there was a gothic palace called Garayan, which had a ground floor and two floors. The rooms had flat, beamed ceilings, and some were warmed by a fireplace. The entrance to the lower castle led through the western Moravian Gate, protected by two hemispherical towers, built in the fifteenth century on the older, Great Moravian earth ramparts.
  
In the sixteenth century, the middle castle was enlarged by another courtyard with new economic buildings and a gothic – renaissance palace of Bathory. In the western part of the hill a 55 meters deep well was dug. The upper castle was reinforced with artillery towers and a watch tower called Virgin or Monk with an additional wall. The lower castle had economic facilities. The west gate, the north gate and the south-east gate led to it. Each of them was protected by two semicircular towers.

Current state

   At present, on the large, surrounded by a defensive wall and with three gates, the lower castle, there are traces of Roman buildings from the 3rd century and the foundations of the early Moravian church from the 9th century. Near the north gate there are relics of the 15th century watchtower. The middle castle is distinguished by the remains of the Garay and Bathory palace. In the renaissance palace, an exhibition of objects found during excavations was placed. Along the southern section of the wall, only the foundations of economic buildings have been preserved. On the south side you can see the watchtower. The oldest part of the stronghold, that is the upper castle, remains in a state of ruin and is currently unavailable due to reconstruction works carried out in it.

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