Slovenská Ľupča – castle


   The castle was probably built before 1250, as part of a wide-ranging action of the fortification of kingdom after the Mongol invasion. The first mention of it comes from 1255, when king Bela IV gave the municipal rights of Banská Bystrica in the walls of castle Ľupča. Slovenská Ľupča was the property of the Hungarian kings, who from the beginning of its existence until the time of Matthias Corvinus treated it, as one of their residences and went out hunting from here. Bela IV, Louis I of Hungary, Sigismund of Luxembourg with queen Elizabeth of Luxembourg and Matthias Corvinus were frequent guests at the castle.
At the beginning of the fourteenth century, the castle was occupied by Matthew Csák, after which it returned to the king in 1321. On its behalf, it was managed by private administrators, often by the zupans of Zvolen, among them Donch, for whom this was the second seat of importance. In 1424, Sigismund of Luxembourg donated the entire Zvolen land to wife, queen Barbara, and she gave it to her daughter and successor, queen Elisabeth. Like many other Slovak castles, also Ľupča came under the influence of John Jiskra, who was called by Elisabeth to help, after the death of Albrecht Habsburg. At the time, the castle was ruled by Gregory of Korbava, a loyal servant of the Luxembourgs and Jiskra himself. During his time, the first major expansion began, stretching in several stages also during the reign of Matthias Corvinus, who was the last Hungarian king, regularly visiting the castle.
In 1490, queen Beatrice, the widow of Corvinus, sold Lupča to the family of Dócze. The ruling of the Dócze was a time of cruelty, robbery, tough treatment of subjects and armed raids against free miners from Brezno. Finally, in 1531, by order of queen Maria, the royal army captured the castle. Its status was finally settled in 1547 with a settlement with the Dócze, who earned 10,000 ducats for waiving property rights. Since then, the castle was managed by successive tenants, initially the Banská Bystrica mining office. In 1531 another reconstruction of the castle began. It was associated with a threat from the Turks and the progress in the art of siege. In 1605, the castle’s crew under the command of Gaspar Tribel, repulsed the siege of the army of Stefan Bocskaya.
In the second half of the 17th century, thanks to a marriage with Maria Secsa, the castle was taken over by the Hungarian palatine, Francis Vesselenyi, who in 1662 bought it into ownership. In 1666, in Ľupča, Hungarian magnates formed an anti-Habsburg conspiracy, headed by a palatine. However the conspiracy was soon detected and all the property of the deceased palatine was confiscated. In 1678, the castle was conquered by the insurgents of Imre Thokolyego, who soon had to leave it. Again, the Hungarian insurgents conquered Lupča in 1703. After four years castle was recaptured by the imperial army. In 1861 it was burned down partially, and was renovated in 1875. Since then, it housed an orphanage. After the fall of the Slovak National Uprising, the guerrilla prisoners were imprisoned here for a short time, and after the war there was a missionary residence. From 1989 it was abandoned. In recent years, renovation has begun, financed mainly by private sponsors, and in 2005 a museum was opened at the castle.


   The oldest part, that is the later upper castle, occupied the top of the hill and was surrounded by an oval wall. It consisted of a square tower and residential buildings tightly located in a small courtyard. In the north-eastern part of the courtyard stood the building of a representative palace. The tower had three floors, internal dimensions 4 x 4 meters and probably had a residential function. On the lowest level there was a well, and the ground floor was topped with a rib vault.
   At the end of the fifteenth century, the defensive wall system was modified, from the north a semicircular cannon tower was erected and the standard of the residential part was raised. At thet time buildings from the west, north and east of the courtyard, at the inner face of the defensive walls were erected.
   In the first half of the sixteenth century, on the northern, more easily accessible side of the hill, a new line of walls was added with three towers, which created a vast outer bailey. At the end of the 16th century, a huge, square tower, called Rubigal, after the name of administrator Paul Rubigal, was added to the southern part of the upper castle. In the next century, renaissance cloisters appeared in the courtyard of the upper castle, and some of the rooms received a new design.

Current state

   The layout of the upper castle has survived unchanged from the 16th century, when its rooms and two towers: Rubigal and semi-round on the north side, have been adapted for residential purposes. The defensive walls of the lower castle are low and obscured by trees growing on the hill. The castle has been owned by the ironworks in Podbrezowa since 2002, which carries out its renovation. A small permanent exhibition includes a certain number of dishes, several pieces of weapons and paintings. Excavations from a nearby monastery are also presented here. Apart from a few cases, neither the furniture nor the furnishings of the castle rooms have survived. However, the rooms and walls are in good condition. The castle has not yet set official opening hours, but in summer it is open every day except Mondays, from 10.00 to 16.00, in other months only on weekends.

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