The history of settlements near the castle hill dates back to the 11th and 12th centuries. The stone castle was erected on the order of King Bela IV, shortly after the Mongol invasion of 1241, by knight Andrew, son of a man named Ivanek, progenitor of the later Forgacs family. Already in 1243, the castle then called Turuch, served as a shelter for the royal family who returned from Dalmatia. In the same century the castle core was moved lower to a more accessible place. Soon, the renovated building was once again recorded in the history of the royal family, because it became the prison of Bela’s daughter-in-law – Elizabeth and her children. This took place in 1267 during the civil war between the king and his son, later Stephen II, who demanded participation in power.
For many years, Zniev, originally bearing the name of the Turiec Castle, was the only stronghold in the Turiec Basin. After the creation of the Turiec county, for some time its seat was located here, but in 1339 the seat of the county was moved to Sklabina Castle. Zniev quickly lost its relevance, among others due to the secluded location. In 1320, its owners became Norbertines from the monastery from which the present name of the village comes – Kláštor pod Znievom.
In 1530 it was captured without a fight by troops loyal to John Zapolya, commanded by Nicholas Kostka. Two years later, Ferdinand’s Habsburg army recaptured it and seriously damaged. The lower castle was rebuilt in 1545 on the initiative of Francis Révay. In the second half of the 16th century and at the beginning of the 17th century, it often changed owners. 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 1773.
The castle was situated on an elongated rocky ridge, to which the road led from the east. Already in the 13th century it consisted of upper and lower wards. 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. It was protected by a wall and a ditch separating the access road on the eastern side.
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. As mentioned, the road to the castle led from the east, where it reached the gate tower situated in the corner of the walls. Wall marked a vast, irregular area of the lower ward with a maximum length of 160 meters. Further on, the road climbed serpentine between the rocks on the slope until it reached the main building of the lower castle. Then, in a relatively straight way, the upper castle was reached on the west.
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.
Bóna M., Plaček M., Encyklopedie slovenských hradů, Praha 2007.
Wasielewski A., Zamki i zamczyska Słowacji, Białystok 2008.