Nitra – castle

History

   Nitra is one of the oldest settlement centers in the Slavic lands. The oldest mention about it refer to 828, when the first brick church was ordained here. At that time, there was a hillfort on the castle hill, which was one of the two main centers of the Great Moravian state. A medieval brick castle was built on the site of the castle after the Hungarian conquest. The exact date is unknown, but it probably occurred in the 11th century. It was a royal property, the capital of the county and the Duchy of Nitra.
  
In 1241, the castle resisted the Mongol invasion, for which king Bela IV granted Nitra the status of a free royal city and numerous privileges. In 1288 Ladislaus IV of Hungary gave the castle together with the city to the episcopal curia. From that moment until 1848, the Nitra remained the subject of bishops. In 1271, the castle was heavily damaged during the siege by the Czech king Ottokar II. Rebuilt, it was once again conquered in 1311 by Matthew Csák, who destroyed the city, taking revenge for the excommunication on him. After the fall of the magnate, the castle returned to the bishops and its restoration began. Another reconstruction took place during the reign of Sigismund of Luxembourg, and the next in the first half of the sixteenth century. In 1663, the castle surrendered without a fight to the Turkish army, but a year later it was recaptured by the Austrians. In relation with the Turkish threat in 1673-1674, the castle was rebuilt into a early modern fortress. The Turks never again stormed Nitra, but at the beginning of the 18th century it was captured by the armies of Francis Rakoczi, again seriously damaging the stronghold. Later construction works concerned only to the interiors of the castle.

Architecture

   The hillfort and then the castle in Nitra were erected on a hill towering almost 60 meters above the town. It is known that in the early Middle Ages, there was a romanesque church inside the wood-and-earth ramparts, and then a bishop’s palace. In the 14th century, a new gothic cathedral stood inside the walls. In the fifteenth century, the castle had a shape similar to a triangle with a square tower, called Basil’s Tower, in the eastern corner. It was the point of contact between two curtain walls. The south was parallel to the moat, and the north ran along the cliff. In addition, the wall was reinforced with two additional cylindrical towers and three or four four-sided towers. In the inner courtyard there was a well 42 meters deep. The castle was fortified with defensive walls and a large moat with 10 meters wide and reinforced with stones walls with a height of 5-6 meters.

Current state

   A number of modifications that the castle has made over the centuries have completely changed its original appearance. The closest to the original state is the part of the castle wall, the square Basil’s Tower, as well as the basilica of Saint Emmeram. A moat with a gothic pedigree is also visible.

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