Pajštún – castle


   Pajštún Castle was probably built in the third quarter of the 13th century, as part of a defense system along the Czech-Hungarian border and the route along the Morava River. Originally it was known under the name of Stupava (“castrum Ztumpa” and “Uztumpa”), recorded among others in 1271. In 1314 it was written as Pelystan or in the German-language variant Paylstein, later in 1349 it was called Perostyan and in 1390 as Prostyan, which corresponded to the later Hungarian name Borostyán. The German name was due to the massive, sharp rock (Pfeilenstein) on which the building was erected.
The military importance of the castle first played a role in 1271, during the Czech-Hungarian war. At that time, Pajštún was to be defended by comes Aleksander, who died during the fighting, for which King Stephen V thanked his sons, Dominic and Charles, in the same year. For a change, nothing was recorded about the castle during the next Czech invasion in 1273, when Přemysl Otakar II crossed the Lesser Carpathians. Pajštún then had to be captured or bypassed. It did not lose its importance, because in the 13th century, the Stupava County was mentioned several times in documents (it disappeared only at the beginning of the next century).
Pajštún was a royal castle, but despite the actions of king Charles Robert, who tried to restore to the monarchy goods lost during the interregnum and internal unrest, it returned to the royal domain only in 1349, during the reign of Louis the Great. Until then, it remained in the hands of Ruger and his son Otto of Tallesbrun, who could rebuild it from the damages caused in the 13th century. In 1385, the royal burgrave was a certain James, son of Ladislaus, but already in 1390 the family from Sväty Jur became the new owners of the castle. They received new goods in thanks for help and as compensation for losses incurred during internal fights with political opponents of Sigismund of Luxembourg. In 1409, the granting of Pajštún to the counts of Sväty Jur was confirmed and was valid until the family die out in 1543. The castle was not captured neither during the Hussite wars, nor during the fights for the Hungarian crown in the early 1440s, when the nearby Stupava was occupied by the supporters of the Polish king, organizing numerous expeditions from there. The fortified church in Stupava again became a base after 1457, during Matthias Corvinus’ fights with the Habsburgs, whose supporters were the lords of Sväty Jur. And this time Pajštún probably also escaped the sieges.
Due to the lack of heirs after the death of the last representative of the family from Sväty Jur, the castle was taken over by Emperor Ferdinand Habsburg. Quite quickly, however, he pledged it to other noble families. In 1546, the castle was given to the voivode Gáspár Serédy, who, before his death in 1550, managed to strengthen the neglected building with new fortifications. In the second half of the 16th century, the building was taken by the Salm family from Neuburg, and in 1599 the Pálffy family came into possession of Pajštún, who at the beginning of the 17th century made a thorough reconstruction of the castle, based on the system of early modern fortifications. The castle became a mainly defensive building, intensively expanded in the second half of the 17th century, to block the advance of the Turkish army. It was maintained until 1810, when during the campaign against the Austrians, it was destroyed by Napoleon’s army.


   The castle was built on a massive rock promontory, constituting the western part of a vast hill dominating the south and west side over the valley of the Stupava stream, a tributary of the Morava river flowing in the west. Nature best protected the castle from the south – west, south and east, where vertical rock cliffs with a height of up to 25 meters prevented access to the building. Steep slopes were also from the north, while the only relatively convenient road could be led from the west.
   The original medieval castle was a small seat located in the eastern part of a rock promontory. The course of the defensive walls was adjusted to the edge of the hill, which is why it had a shape similar to a triangle with sides of about 60 and 50 meters. The defense was probably based on cutins and high and inaccessible escarpments. In the eastern part of the complex, the wall was rounded and relatively thin, about 0.5-0.6 meters thick, due to the sufficient protection of the cliffs. On the front, western side, most vulnerable to attack, the wall was already about 1.7 meters thick. It is not known whether the castle had a bergfried or keep towers. Perhaps a four-sided gatehouse with an approximate size of 11 x 8 meters, with a passage in the ground floor, formed the north-west corner of the castle. The last stage of the access road was directed west, where the outer ward could be located.
In the mid-sixteenth century, the defensive walls were thickened, equipped with loop holes adapted to firearms, and new sections were erected, especially on the west side. According to inventories, there were supposed to be two lines of walls, including one crowned with crenellation. Battlements were also supposed to have a defensive wall of the upper ward. Two gates were supposed to lead to the castle at that time. Perhaps the first one opened onto the courtyard of the outer ward, and the second one was the older gatehouse of the main part of the castle. In the upper ward, there were two residential buildings and the south tower, 8.5 meters high, located between them, rebuilt for residential purposes. The newer building was to be located in the lower part of the courtyard, where it was connected to the fortifications of the front part of the castle. From the outside, for defensive reasons, it had no windows. The lighting of the five rooms on the ground floor and five rooms on the first floor was provided only by the windows facing the courtyard. The older residential house was to be located in the upper part of the courtyard, probably on the south-eastern or eastern side, the farthest from the gate and the highest, and therefore the safest.
   A big problem in the middle of the 16th century was the water supply to the castle. Since digging a well deep enough to reach through the high bedrock was out of the question, rainwater was collected in a large, open tank in the courtyard and in a second, older tank located in the vaulted room. To the latter, water probably flowed from the roofs using a system of pipes or channels. Both tanks were to be made of carefully prepared stone blocks.

Current state

   To this day, the side wall with the gate and part of the front wall of the west wing, the northern bastion, as well as sections of defensive walls and bastions have been preserved. However, these are mostly remains of fortifications and buildings from early modern period, from the mid-sixteenth century and the seventeenth century. Relics of medieval walls have survived in the Renaissance upper ward, hidden among early modern remains. Among the architectural details, the most interesting are stone corbels decorated with gargoyles at the southern part of the west wing, although they were built after the Middle Ages. An impressive building is a huge, early modern, brick water tank. Admission to the castle grounds is free.

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Bóna M., Mrva I., Hrad Pajštún, sprievodca históriou, Bratislava 2014.
Bóna M., Plaček M., Encyklopedie slovenských hradů, Praha 2007.
Wasielewski A., Zamki i zamczyska Słowacji, Białystok 2008.