In the second half of the thirteenth century, in the Šariš county, two royal estates called Makovica were created, and in them two castles: Zborov and the now non-existent Bodoň. Zborov probably was built relatively late; it was founded in the early fourteenth century (after 1317) or according to other publications in the second half of the 13th century, as a royal frontier defensive castle and at the same time the center of the aforementioned estate.
On behalf of the king, it was managed by castellans, who were Philip Drugeth in the time of Charles Robert of Hungary and members of Bebek family during the time of Louis I of Hungary. The record of the castle from 1347 is connected with their name. In 1364, king Louis donated Zborov to Peter Cudar for loyal service. Thanks to joining subsequent villages to their property, Peter‘s descendants quickly created the largest latifundium in the entire county, occupying the majority of northern Šariš. They ruled the castle and surrounding lands until the family expired in 1470. This date coincides with the break in the splendor of the estate: first, the surrounding villages were ravaged by the Polish army, going to Hungary against Matthias Corvinus, then, in the years 1490-1492, they were affected by the fratricidal war for the Hungarian throne, between Władysław, the Czech king, and Jan Olbracht, king of Poland. The marches of Polish troops brought ruin to the villages and towns belonging to Zborov. During this period, Zborov was the property of the Rozgonyi family, and since 1522 Tarcai house.
After several changes of owners at the end of the fifteenth and the first half of the sixteenth century, Zborov became in 1548 the property of the Seredyi family, which received it as compensation for the support of Ferdinand Habsburg in the war with John Zapolya. Seredyis were in constant conflict with the townspeople of nearby Bardejov, who sent numerous complaints to Vienna about the castle owners’ actions. However, in such cases, the emperor almost always took the side of the magnates, who did not regret the penny for the expansion of the castle, which during the Turkish pressure was of considerable importance. The old gothic castle was than surrounded by a third ring of defensive walls, and all the weak points, which were easier to approach, were strengthened by cannon towers. The Seredyi government in Zborov lasted very short. The last of the family, Gaspar, died on the road to Bardejov in 1566.
In 1571, the owner of the castle was famed Hungarian magnate Andrew Balassa, who married the widow of Gaspar. After three years, the castle was taken over by Balasas son-in-law, Cracow castellan Andrew from Ostroróg. In 1601, his son, John from Ostroróg, sold the castle together with all the assets to Sigismund Rákóczi. It remained in the hands of Rakoczi until 1676, when the widow of Francis I Rakoczi, Helena Zrinyi, remarried nobleman, Imre Thókóly. It turned out to be the cause of the castle’s ruin. After the battle of Vienna, the uprising, headed by the new owner of Zborov, began to fall. In the autumn of 1684, when the kuruc rebels retreated to the east, the imperial general Schultz smashed their camp at Prešov and later turned around and besieged Zborov. Helena commanded it defense. After a short siege, the castle was conquered and destroyed on the personal order of emperor Leopold I. From that day the castle remains in ruin.
Zborov was a small and modest castle occupying the rocky top of the oval hill, until it was expanded in the 15th and 16th century. Originally it consisted of a perimeter of walls separating a narrow courtyard and a polygonal tower on the southern side, which turned with a blunt corner towards the access road. Judging by its size, it probably also had residential functions. The residential building was also located on the opposite (northern) narrowing side of the courtyard. In its eastern part a chapel could be located. The entrance to the castle was on the west side and from the mid-15th century it was preceded by a four-sided foregate, protruding from the perimeter of the walls.
Probably in the fifteenth century, a second, outer perimeter of the walls was erected, roughly repeating the layout of the upper castle. It was initially reinforced with only one horseshoe cannon tower on the south-west side. From the north of it was a quadrangular gatehouse open from the inside, to which the entrance led through a wooden ramp, based on a stone pillar.
The largest extension of the castle took place in the middle of the 16th century. The second circuit of fortifications was then reinforced with further semi-circular cannon towers: one in the southern corner and one to the right and left of the northern gatehouse. A third strip of the defensive wall was also built, on the north and east side due to the terrain, it led quite close to the higher middle perimeter, while in the west and south it separated an extensive outer ward. The third circuit was supplied with three cannon towers and a gate tower with a foregate on the southern side, protruding in front of the ring of walls, to which a drawbridge spanned over the ditch led.
Ultimately, the castle consisted of three clearly separate parts: the oldest upper castle, covering the top of the hill, and two additional circuits of defensive walls separating the outer wards, which were built in the second half of the 15th century and in the 16th century. The road to the entrance led from the south between the outer defensive wall and the wall and towers of the middle castle. In order to improve control over those entering or breaking into the castle, the lower ward was divided by transverse wall. It could be passed only along the west wall, under the fire of the strongest towers. This part of the castle also housed economic buildingd of various purposes. They were added to the inner side of the defensive wall. The second ward (middle castle) was inside the lower one. Its equally solid defensive walls were reinforced with a total of four towers, of which, as mentioned, three were on the western section between the gates in the lower ward. After the rebuilding in the 16th century, almost the entire courtyard of the upper castle was filled with residential buildings. The main house on the north side was then a three-story, largest building in the castle. The main castle tower in the southern corner was rebuilt in renaissance style and strengthened.
The castle has been preserved in the form of a legible ruin from the period of its magnificence in the 16th century. The walls and towers of the lower and middle castle survived in the best condition, in slightly worse are buildings of the upper castle. In recent years, renovation and security works have been carried out at the castle.
Bóna M., Plaček M., Encyklopedie slovenských hradů, Praha 2007.
Stredoveké hrady na Slovensku. Život, kultúra, spoločnosť, red. D.Dvořáková, Bratislava 2017.
Wasielewski A., Zamki i zamczyska Słowacji, Białystok 2008.