The first stone castle was built on a rock, providing insight into the river Muráň valley, probably shortly after the Mongol invasion of 1241. It was erected as a royal foundation, controlling the trail through the Slovak Ore Mountains to the Spiš and further to Poland. The first notice of the castle, in which it is mentioned as Castrum Movran, dates from 1271.
In 1430 the Hussite army of John Jiskra took over the castle. At that time, it was enlarged and became one of the largest in Upper Hungary. After the resignation of Jiskra, the castle was taken over by a rebels. In 1462, king Matthias Corvinus recaptured it. Just before 1500, the new owner of the castle, Stefan Zápolya, gave it to George Tornaly. In 1528, after the death of his father, the four-year-old John Tornaly became the owner of the castle. The legal guardian of the minor heir, Maciej Bašo, sent the boy to Poland and, together with his brothers, took over the castle, making it a nest for robbery activities, covering the entire Gemer region. It was not until 1549, after a long siege, that the castle from the hands of the knights robbers was recaptured by graf Nicholas from Salm. In 1612, the castle together with the feudal “state” Muráň bought for 100,000 zlotys Tomasz Szèchy, the main zupan of Gemer. After him the castle was ruled by his son George, and after the death of George in 1625, one of his sons-in-law, Illeshazy.
The most famous figure in the history of the castle was Maria Szèchy, daughter of George. Beautiful and intelligent, called “Venus of Muráň “, was at first a loyal ally of the emperor Ferdinand Habsburg. In 1644, she gained power over the castle from the hands of her brother-in-law Illeshazy, who was on the side of the insurgents of George Rakoczi, and then married Francis Wesselényi, commander of the fortress in Fiľakovo. In 1655, Wesselényi became a palatine of Hungary, and in 1666 he became the head of the anti-Habsburg conspiracy of Hungarian magnates. After his unexpected death, “Venus of Muráň” defended the castle for 4 years. Castle was finally conquered by the army of Charles V of Lorraine in 1670. This date marks the end of the “golden era” of the stronghold.
In 1678 and 1683 it was taken twice by Emeryk Thököly, the leader of the great anti-Habsburg Kuruc insurrection. After its final fall in 1688, the castle was taken over by the royal commissioners Christopher Breiner and Paul Medňanský. In 1710, the castle was taken over by Francis II Rakoczi, and then he was given it to his general Mikuláš Berčenyi. In 1720, the emperor Charles VI Habsburg donated the castle together with the neighboring estates as a reward for loyal service to Stefan Koháry. In 1760, the stronghold burned down and began to deteriorate, the damages were never repaired. In 1816, the ruins passed into the hands of the Coburg-Kohara dukes, who were the owners of the castle until 1945.
The oldest, gothic buildings were erected in the southern part of the rock spur. A residential tower measuring 5.6 x 8.8 meters was located there. The thickness of its walls was not too big and was about 1 meter. Next to it was a tank carved in the rock, supplying residents with rainwater. At that time, the protection of the castle was a ditch about 7-8 meters wide separating the stronghold from the rest of the hill.
The rebuilding of the castle from the 15th century caused its extension to the area of almost 3.2 ha. The defensive walls of the castle surrounded the entire hill top, adjusting to the terrain configuration. They were not high due to standing over several dozen kilometers cliffs. The entrance gatehouse, preceded by wide stairs carved in the rock, was located on the south-western side. It was guarded by a four-sided gate tower behind which there was a small courtyard, and then walls in a form of a barbican, flanked by another quadrilateral tower measuring 8.7 x 8.7 meters. In the northern part of the castle there was another tower in which there was an elevator for transporting heavy loads to the castle hill.
Currently, the best preserved elements of the castle are the square northern tower and the entrance gate. The remaining, few relics of buildings are lost among bushes and trees. Of them, the main residential house in the central part and the southern part, adjoined to the defensive wall, has been best preserved. In the southern, oldest part of the castle, a viewing platform has been set up. In addition, considerable sections of the defensive wall have been preserved.
Bóna M., Plaček M., Encyklopedie slovenských hradů, Praha 2007.
Wasielewski A., Zamki i zamczyska Słowacji, Białystok 2008.