The castle was built at the end of the 13th century by the Csák family. It was mentioned for the first time in 1300, when it was held by the magister Csák, brother of the great magnate Matthew III Csák, who sovereignly ruled the western part of today’s Slovakia at the beginning of the 14th century. After his death and fall of his dominion in 1321, the castle garrison under the command of castellan Jan surrendered without a fight to the royal army. Since then, Oponice belonged to the Crown’s estate, remaining under the management of the royal castellans.
In 1392, the castle was bought by daughters of Nicholas from Čeklís together with their spouses. One of them was Petr from Stráži, who three years later became the sole owner of the estate. In 1411, he took the name associated with the name of the castle and from that time on, he was the Appon or in the Hungarian version the Apponyi. The Apponyi family was not one of the richest, and the extension of the castle did not progress quickly. Despite this, it managed to defend against the Hussites in 1431, and a century later against the Turkish army’s escapades. However, in 1514 a poorly guarded stronghold managed to get under the hands of subjects of Anna Ludanicka from the nearby castle in Ludanice. After this event, as well as due to fear of the Turkish threat, after 1542 the fortifications of the castle were extended and adapted to fire defense. In the 16th century, residential buildings were also transformed and enlarged in the renaissance style.
At the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries, the owners moved to the newly built palace, and the castle gradually deserted. Disputes over property between the two Apponyi brothers, which broke out in 1612, led to the suspension of all work at the stronghold. Additionally, in 1645, the fire broke out. At the beginning of the 18th century, the castle was occupied by Hungarian insurgents, which contributed to further destruction during the Austrian siege. Since then on it remained in a state of ruin.
The castle in its oldest form from the end of the 13th century consisted of a cylindrical tower with a diameter between 8.5 and 9.5 meters, erected on the hill, flanking the access road running from the south-east, with a pointed spur to it. It was quite a rare element on Slovak (Upper Hungarian) castles, while it was popular in Moravia. Task of the spur was to strengthen the tower against fire from the most threatened direction. The tower, probably of the bergfried function, was erected in front of the perimeter of the defensive walls that surrounded a small courtyard on the highest part of the rock, measuring approximately 23 x 20 meters. Within the walls was also a small residential building, probably hidden behind a tower in the north-west of the courtyard. The whole was surrounded by a circular dry moat.
In the fifteenth century, the castle was surrounded by another perimeter wall, separated from the main ring by 8 to 12 meters and creating a wide zwinger, or perhaps a narrow outer ward. Again additional protection was provided by the moat carved into the rock and the earth rampart surrounding the whole castle. The gate to which the wooden bridge over the moat led, supported by stone pillars, was placed on the north side. In the next century, a huge cannon tower was added on the west side of the outer ward, whose shooting holes had the access road to the castle within range of fire. At the beginning of the 17th century, a renaissance building was erected at the northeastern part of the outer defensive wall.
Currently, the upper castle is a complex of poorly legible ruins of which the most recognizable are the remains of a round bergfried tower. Within the outer ward, a significant part of the defensive walls have been preserved. The best preserved are the ruins of the renaissance palace of the Apponyi, from which the northern wall remained mostly. Another interesting element is the ruin of the sixteenth-century cannon tower called Tereš. Entrance to the castle is free.
Bóna M., Plaček M., Encyklopedie slovenských hradů, Praha 2007.
Bóna M., Plaček M., Lukačka J., Oponický hrad, “Pamiatky a múzeá 47”, 1998 č. 1.
Wasielewski A., Zamki i zamczyska Słowacji, Białystok 2008.