Strečno – Old Castle

History

   The oldest mention about the castle dates from 1267. At that time, it was called Varin and had two tasks: it was part of the border defense system, and at the same time protected the trade route along the river, because there was a ferry and a toll point below the castle. At first, it was royal property, but still in the thirteenth century it came to the hands of the protoplasts of the later Balass family. At the end of the 13th century, the castle was dominated by Matthew Csák, in whose hands it remained until 1321. In 1397, the castellan of the castle was a Polish knight Piotr Wągl, who held it on behalf of Stibor of Stiboricz. Over the next hundred years, the owners have changed many times, and their long list is opened by the zupan of Zvolen, Donch. In 1443, Varin came into the hands of Pograncz from Mikulas, whose descendants remained the owners of the castle until 1848. In the 14th century, after the castle in nearby Strećno was built, the term “Old Castle” was adopted for VarinThis name appears for the first time in 1384, and Varin has since been defined only to the servitude settlement, a few kilometers north.
  
Between 1529 and 1553 the Pogranczs were in regular war with Nicholas Kostka, the owner of Strećno. The castle survived all the sieges, but it was so devastated that its repair exceeded the financial possibilities of the owners.
The Pogranczs asked the emperor for permission to leave the castle and move to a newly built mansion. They received such an agreement and in the early 17th century they lived in a new palace in Krasńany. The castle was still inhabited, although it completely lost its military significance. For a century, the owners spent small amounts on minor repairs. Eventually, the building was abandoned at the beginning of the 18th century and has remained in ruin since then.

Architecture

   In the 13th century, the castle was a small stronghold consisting of a tower on the plan of a horseshoe (axis between 9,5 and 12 meters) and a residential building with dimensions of 15 x 8.5 meters, tightly set on the most southerly part of the rock. Originally, before it was enclosed with later constructions, it had a spur towards the north-east, that is towards the entrance gate.
   In the 15th century, the castle was enlarged. From the west side a gatehouse tower and foregate were built, and in the south-eastern part an oblong building was added to the old curtain. Access to the heart of the castle was possible only through new fortifications, from the other sides natural protection was provided by vertical cliffs. Later, from the north-east, an additional, longitudinal courtyard was built, surrounded by separate defensive walls. Here, most of the economic and residential buildings of the castle’s crews stood. An additional protection of the outer ward was a moat carved into the rock. The whole castle was stretched, its length was over 150 meters, while the width in the widest place did not exceed 30 meters.

Current state

   Currently, in the worst condition there is an outer bailey. It is a large flattened terrain covered with forest and surrounded by fragments of crumbling walls. The only traces of residential and commercial buildings that once stood here, are the openings in the perimeter walls that served as a support for their ceiling beams. In the middle castle, there are walls around the courtyard and large fragments of a 15th century cannon tower. The oldest upper castle looks best. There is a tower preserved to the height of the second floor, and behind it, the walls of the late gothic palace and other residential buildings. Admission to a castle area is free.

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