The first mention of Sklabina comes from 1309, when its owner was the Donch, zupan of Zvolen, also considered the builder of the castle. In 1339, after Donch took power over the goods in Komarno, Sklabina Castle became the royal property, while its castellans also served as the Turčian zupans.
The first major expansion of the castle occurred during the reign of Sigismund of Luxembourg, probably as a result of the destruction related with the capture of the castle by the Hussites in 1434 and its partial burning. Again, the castle was modernized and enlarged in the years 1460-1480, during the reign of Matthias Corvinus. Sklabina was still a royal castle at the time, but it was pledged because of the debts of Sigismund of Luxembourg. From 1410 to 1470 the castle was kept in pledge by Andrew Balicki. After him it was held by zupan Jan Ernest, next by king Matthias Corvinus and in 1494 it was handed over to the Hungarian palatine, Stephen Zápolya, and after five years it was taken over by his son John, who had to leave this part of Hungary after fighting with the Habsburgs. Later, the inhabitants changed quite often. In 1528, the castle was taken over by Francis Revay, who six years later became the “hereditary and eternal Turiec zupan” and received Sklabina into ownership. The Revayas became the most important family in Turiec, they held their office until 1848, and the owners of the castle and many other goods they remained until 1945.
In relation with the increasing Turkish threat in the 16th century, the castle was expanded. It never had to face the Turkish army, but in 1605 successfully resisted against Bocskaya’s troops. At the same time, the zupan parliament recognized the defensive capabilities of the castle as insufficient and decided to strengthen them. The reconstruction was carried out by Peter Revay, then the zupan and guardian of the Hungarian crown.
In 1746, the zupan office was moved to Martin. After that date, the castle quickly fell into decline, only for some time it still has a large archive and later an arsenal. Castle was abandoned at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and from then on, it fell into disrepair. Additional damages, especially in the area of the former outer ward, were caused by the fire of 1944 set by the German army.
The oldest part of the castle was situated on the top of the hill. It had a polygonal outline of defensive walls measuring 48 x 27 meters with a small courtyard of an irregular, trapezoid shape, in the middle of which a water tank was carved in the rock. Inside the walls, residential and utility buildings were erected on three sides. At that time, the castle was a towerless structure, which defense based on strong perimeter walls. The entrance led through a gate located in the northeastern part of the courtyard. It was protected by a deep ditch, over which a timber bridge was placed.
During the reconstruction and expansion from the fifteenth century, the castle was surrounded by new, over two-meter thick walls, at which two small polygonal towers were added from the west and the gatehouse in the northern corner. The zwinger area was about 10-20 meters wide. In the second half of the 15th century, the massive gatehouse was reinforced with a foregate with a horseshoe tower. Additionally, since the end of the 15th southern fragment of the fortifications was defended by the pentagonal tower, crowned still by a battlement. In the 15th century, a gate tower was also erected in the upper castle. It had a shape similar in plan to a quadrangle, with cut off outer corners. Its upper two floors were occupied by the chapel of St. Andrew with rib vaults and matroneum (gallery). The chapel’s lighting was provided by pointed windows.
In the 16th century, the castle was expanded by a second outer ward from the south, west and north. A new entry road led it, which reached the first (older) outer ward on the eastern side, where a massive flanking tower was erected, later rebuilt into a four-storey palace. The outer gate to the second outer ward was placed on the west side and was equipped with two cannon towers flanking the entrance. Just behind it, a building adjoining the former foregate was preceded by a polygonal cannon tower.
To this day, the ruins of the upper castle gate tower, the southern tower, the former tower in the eastern part of the younger outer ward, the northern part of the outer ward fortifications and relics of the upper castle walls have survived. The ruins of the castle since 2000 are in the hands of the Donjon association from Martin, which carries out the reconstruction of some objects and the restoration of the rest of them. The area was cleared of greenery and cleaned up, a path for tourists was marked out, information boards were set up. The most urgent maintenance works were also carried out.
Bóna M., Plaček M., Encyklopedie slovenských hradů, Praha 2007.
Wasielewski A., Zamki i zamczyska Słowacji, Białystok 2008.