Modrý Kameň – castle


   Modrý Kameň was built before 1285, probably by the then-mentioned knight Petr Forró. After his death, the stronghold was taken over by the sons of Kazimir from the mighty Hunt-Poznanski family, but as early as 1290 the castle was recaptured by the siblings of Petr, the founders of the later mighty Balass family, who owned Modrý Kameň until the 19th century. A short break was only the period of reigns of Matthew III Csák, the magnate ruling in the early fourteenth century the areas of today’s western Slovakia. However, after his death in 1321, the king returned Modrý Kameň to the rightful owners.
In the 1560s, the castle was rebuilt due to the Turkish threat. It didn’t do much good, because in 1575, due to the flight of the crew, the castle was captured by the Ottoman army. They owned the castle until 1593, when they succumbed to the attacks of Mikuláš Pálffy and Krištof Tiefenbach. Before they retreated, however, they set fire and blew up the stronghold. In the years 1609-1612, the castle was rebuilt and enlarged by Sigismund Balassa. In the next war with Turkey in 1659, the castle was destroyed again.
In 1683, castle was conquered by the rebel armies of Imrich Tököly and was seriously damaged. The damage was not repaired by the owners and the upper, gothic part of the castle has been in ruins since then. In 1730 Gabriel Balassa built a baroque palace in the lower part of the castle, and in 1759 a chapel dedicated to Saint Anne. After the extinction of the Balassa family in 1899, the property was taken over by the Almášiov family. The last owner of the castle was duchess Almášiov, who in 1923 sold the entire estate to the Czechoslovak state.


   The castle was situated on the top of a rocky hill, the head of which was protected by steep and high escarpments on the south side. Also from the east and west, the slopes were difficult to climb, only on the northern side the hill sloped more gently and turned into a neck connecting with the rest of the mountain. There, the most convenient access road to the castle was secured with a transverse ditch.
The oldest upper ward consisted of a perimeter of defensive walls of an oval shape and dimensions of approximately 46 x 32 meters, located on the top of a rocky hill. Residential and utility buildings were located along it. The gate was placed in a wall break on the south-east side, where the oldest residential building was also located, with at least one chamber was heated by a fireplace. The lower, outer defensive wall was an additional protection from the north and east. Descriptions of the castle from the first half of the 16th century, before the early modern transformations, also mention a stone tower, some wooden buildings over the basements, stone buildings, a chapel and a well.
   To the east of the castle’s core was the outer bailey, transformed in the 16th century. The entrance to its area was preceded by a wide ditch. After crossing it, a spacious courtyard was reached, surrounded by a wall of a rectangular shape and reinforced with two bastions. Then the road to the upper part of the castle led through the zwinger in the eastern part of the castle. Around the middle of the 16th century, the southern end of these fortifications was reinforced with a four-sided bastion protruding towards the slopes of the headland. 

Current state

   Currently in the palace, whose walls coincide with the course of the walls of the lower castle, is a seat of a museum of toys. The preserved ruins of the upper castle are located on the other side of the palace’s courtyard. The castle is open in May-October from 9.00-17.00, and in the remaining months from 8.00-15.00.

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Bóna M., Plaček M., Encyklopedie slovenských hradů, Praha 2007.
Kőnig F., Kékkő vára Balassi Bálint korában, “Várak, kastélyok, templomok”, kötetszám február, Pécs 2013.
Stredoveké hrady na Slovensku. Život, kultúra, spoločnosť, red. D.Dvořáková, Bratislava 2017.

Wasielewski A., Zamki i zamczyska Słowacji, Białystok 2008.