Fiľakovo – castle

History

   The first written mention of the castle dates back to the middle of the 13th century, but the timber building in this place existed already in the twelfth century. Its first known owner was Fulko, after which the town and the castle were probably named. Due to the murder of his relative, falsification of coins and the destruction of the village of Hatvan, he was sentenced to a court duel, and in 1246 king Bela IV confiscated his stronghold. In the 13th and 14th centuries, the castle was mentioned as the royal estate. It was managed by Egidius from the Monoszló family, Miklós Aba and a powerful magnate Matthew III Csák. In the fifteenth century king Sigismund of Luxembourg handed over the castle to queen Barbara, and she gave it in a deposit in 1435 to the Bebek family. Three years later, queen Elisabeth gave the castle to János Perényi. This family came into conflict with the king Matthias Corvinus, and in 1483 the castle was captured by the royal army. Already in 1490, however, it returned to the hands of noble families, as King Vladislaus II of Hungary gave it to Blazej Raskai.
   In the 16th century, the castle again passed into the hands of the Bebek family and was rebuilt by them into a renaissance fortress as part of a defensive line against the Turks. In 1554, Turkish troops managed to get it and keep it for almost 40 years. At that time, it was the seat of the so-called Fiľakovo sandžak. The castle was not recaptured until 1593 by Nicholas Pálffy. In the seventeenth century, individual parts of the castle were successively rebuilt and modified, among others after the fire in 1615. In 1682, after the invasion of the Thököly army, supported by the Turkish army, the castle burned down again. It has been in ruins since then.

Architecture

   The medieval castle was erected at the top of a volcanic hill, from which the volcanic tuff was used to build a stronghold. The oldest foundation from 1241 consisted of a defensive wall, which separated by the straight wall, the northern, semicircular part of the hill. The northern part of the hill was so high and inaccessible that it did not require additional construction works. The entrance was protected by a gatehouse tower on the west side. Its four-sided shape in the plan had dimensions of 5.5 x 6.7 meters, and the wall was up to 1.4 meters thick. However, it is not certain exactly where the oldest residential building was located at that time, perhaps it was attached to the southern wall.
  
In the second half of the thirteenth or early fourteenth century, probably due to damage after an unknown attack, it was decided to rebuild the castle. In the southern part of the upper castle, an elongated, rectangular house was erected, built with the use of an old defensive wall. From the outside, it was reinforced with massive buttresses. The gatehouse was also strengthened, the walls of which reached 4 meters thick at the base and dimensions in the plan 12.5 x 13.5 meters.
In the courtyard next to gatehuse a deep pit was carved, acting as a water tank or a defensive pit. Water supply must have been a big problem on the high rock of the castle, as diging such a deep well was impossible. A total of four rainwater tanks cut into stone were discovered, into which water flowed also through channels specially carved into the walls and rocks. The largest of them ran at the base of the entire length of the front wall of the upper castle.
   During the late gothic rebuilding, the entrance road to the castle was changed. At that time, the passage in the massive western tower ceased to function, and a new gate portal was created in the south-western part of the residential building, from which a wooden bridge led on stone pillars. A little later these pillars were combined by a wall into one whole, joined in the east with a massive semi-circular cannon tower.
   During the late Middle Ages, the former outer bailey was transformed into a terrace of the middle ward, closed by a simple defensive wall. Originally there were a timber economic buildings, as there was no place in the upper castle, especially for stables, granaries, houses for servants, etc. During the reconstruction from 1540 – 1551, the lower ward was enlarged with two massive pentagonal towers/bastions (the western Bebek Tower and the eastern Perényi Tower), and the upper ward with an already mentioned powerful semi-cylindrical cannon tower (by M.Bóna and M.Plaček it is dated to the end of the 15th century). The entrance to the castle took place then through a rocky corridor with carved stairs on the west side of the castle. Around 1600, the defense was strengthened by two more cylindrical towers on the south-eastern and south-western part of the castle.

Current state

   The castle has been undergoing successive conservation works since 1972. Reconstructed, among others a powerful, pentagonal Bebek Tower, which now houses a museum exhibition. There is a didactic trail leading through the ruins, which allows you to get acquainted with the history of the castle and the geology of the castle hill, which is the remnant of the volcanic crater’s shaft.

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bibliography:
Bóna M., Plaček M., Encyklopedie slovenských hradů, Praha 2007.
Šimkovic M., Agócs A., Fil’akovo castle, Fil’akovo, 2014.