Zniev – castle


   The history of the castle dates back to the 12th or even the 11th century. In any case, it existed long before the Mongol invasion, and during this time served as a refuge for the local population. At the king’s command, just after the invaders left, the knight Andrew, the progenitor of the later Forgacs family, renewed the old fortification. Already in 1243, the castle (then called Turuch) served as a refuge for the royal family who returned from Dalmatia. Still in the same century, the center of the castle moved lower, into a more accessible place. Soon, the renovated castle was again recorded in the history of the royal family, because it became the prison of the daughter-in-law of Bela IV – Elizabeth and her children. This took place in 1267 during the civil war between the king and his son, later Stefan II, who demanded partnership in rule.
For many years, Zniev was the only castle in the Turiec Basin and was originally called the Turiec Castle. After the creation of Turiec  County for some time, its capital was located here, and today’s name was adopted only after moving the seat of the county to Sklabina. Zniev quickly lost importance, among others, due to the isolated location. In 1320, its owners became the Premonstratensians from the monastery, from which today’s name of the village comes from. In 1530 it was captured without a fight by troops loyal to John Zapolya, commanded by Nicholas Kostka. Two years later, Ferdinand’s army recaptured it and seriously damaged. The lower castle was rebuilt from destruction, and in 1545 it was surrounded by new walls. It was also occupied and devastated during the Hungarian uprisings in 1605, 1681 and 1705. In 1681 it was partially burnt by Thókóly’s army and from then on it slowly fell into disrepair. Castle was finally abandoned in 1713.


   Since the thirteenth century, the castle consisted of upper and lower parts. The upper castle in the form of a 17×8.5 meter tower-like building, located at the top of the hill, served defensive, residential and watch-keeping functions. On the rock, about 100 meters east of the hill, another residential and defense tower with dimensions of 7×8 meters was erected, next to which other buildings of the lower castle were built. Over time, it grew into a large building with an approximately rectangular shape measuring 15×14 meters, which was surrounded by a defensive wall. The road to the castle led from the east, where it reached the gate tower situated in the corner of the walls. Next, with serpentines between the rocks, the road climbed the slope at the top of which reached the main buildings of the lower castle. Then, the upper castle on the west side was reached, by the relatively straight path.

Current state

   Some foundations and one small fragment of the wall have been preserved from the older part of the castle. The rest is covered with a layer of soil or overgrown with grass. Clear bumps in the field determine the course of the walls. In the lower castle, destroyed fragments of residential and commercial buildings have been preserved. The largest object is the remains of a residential tower. The ruins are overgrown with vegetation.

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