Jedľové Kostoľany – Živánska Tower


   The Živánska Tower was probably built in the second half of the 14th century. Perhaps it was connected with the nearby royal castle in Hrušov (about 7 km away) and guarded the former route through the Žitava valley. This route, in operation since the first half of the 14th century, gained importance after the discovery of gold deposits in the vicinity of Nova Baňa. Most likely, the tower served to protect travelers in this road, and also functioned as a toll and customs collection point. The local customs house was confirmed in written sources in 1423, 1424 and 1481, and for the last time in 1496. It is not known when it ceased to be used or when it was destroyed. After it ceased to be used as guard of the customs chamber, it was to be used by robbers. It is known that in 1638, actions against them were organized in the Tekov County. Certainly, the tower ceased to be used after the destruction of the Hrušov Castle in 1708. When abandoned, it may have collapsed from old age, but an earthquake is also possible.


   For the construction of the tower, an exceptionally defensive and strategically advantageous place was chosen, in the area where the road and the Žitava River turned around a high rocky ridge. Situated at a height of about 40 meters, the tower could control a large part of the road, and access to it was significantly limited and possible only from the north. There, it was secured by creating a transverse ditch carved in the rock. On the opposite southern and south-eastern side of the tower, a flat, about 20-meter long fragment of the area could be used for wooden auxiliary or residential buildings, a kind of a small outer bailey.
   The tower was built of unworked erratic stones bonded with lime mortar, with the use of river gravel to fill in the unevenness (this material corresponds to the building materials of the castle in Hrušov, as well as its construction technique). It received a cylindrical shape with a diameter of 8.1 meters. It consisted of five storeys, its height reached about 15-17 meters, and the thickness of the walls in the ground floor, partially recessed in the rock, was 2.7 meters.
   The entrance to the tower was on the first floor and was accessible only from a ladder. Inside, all the storeys were separated by wooden ceilings, the beams of which were embedded in the wall in openings of 22×28 cm. People moved between them using ladders. For defensive reasons, the two lowest floors were not pierced with any window openings, only at the level of the second floor on the northern and eastern sides there were two slit openings with a clearance of 25×130 cm. Similar slits orientated to the west and northeast were pierced at the height of the third floor. At the height of the ceiling of this storey, openings in the external façade were evenly arranged for the installation of an all-round hoarding porch, accessible by stairs or a ladder.

Current state

   To this day, the northern part of the tower of a height up to 14.5 meters has survived, from which one can read the original thickness of the wall and the location of the windows. Entrance to the ruin is free, but the tower from the nearby road is hard to see during the growing season, obscured by a dense forest and bushes. There is no tourist trail leading to it.

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Bóna M., Živánska veža v chotári Jedľových Kostolian, “Pamiatky a múzeá”, č. 1, 42/1993.

Plaček M., Fortifikace ke kontrole a zajištění středověkých komunikací, „Archæologia historica”, roč. 15, č. 1, 1990.