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Feb 06 2015

Spiš Castle: An Unexpected Find

In Europe, it’s difficult to travel around without coming across a castle or three.  Well, it certainly seems that way because I have seen and written about a few castles I have accidentally stumbled across during my travels around Europe in the last couple of years.  I haven’t needed to actively seek them out.

So, in true European style, as I was making my way round a few countries in Europe last year, I was on a bus going from Poprad-Tatry to Kosice, and look what I came across on the journey…  Yes, another castle, which is this week’s Foto Friday.
Spiš Castle, Slovakia

I didn’t know anything about this particular castle.  I wasn’t even expecting to come across one.  The bus stopped in a town called Spišské Podhradie to pick up and drop off passengers.  As we set off again, that’s when I spotted the castle.

As I wasn’t expecting to see anything like that, my camera was in its case in my bag.  After a struggle to get the camera out, I managed to get a few shots, but not the photo I would have liked.  That’s a lesson I’ve learned.  Keep my camera easily accessible on bus and train journeys because of times like this.

It was one of those occasions when I wish I had done just a little bit of research before setting off.  If I had, I would have found out about the castle.  Then again, I wasn’t expecting to end up in Slovakia.  It just kind of… happened.  Apart from the castle, I liked the look of the small town.  If I known, I would have bought a ticket to Spišské Podhradie, stayed for a night or two, and then continued on to Kosice.  If you’re heading that way, you might consider doing that.

As it turns out, Spiš Castle is one of the largest castle complexes in Central Europe and is a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site.  It was built in the 12th century on the site of another castle, although I don’t have any information about the history prior to this.  Spiš Castle is a mix of Romanesque and Gothic architecture.

It hasn’t been lived in since the early 18th century, and was burned down in the latter part of that century.  No one knows what happened, but there are a few theories such as the owners did it to reduce their taxes; it was caused by a lightning strike; although my favourite is the fact that soldiers may have burned it down while making alcohol.  In recent years, the castle has been partly reconstructed, so it is possible to visit.

If you haven’t seen it in real life, you may have seen it in a film or two.

Location 

I have pinpointed Poprad, the town of Spišské Podhradie, and Kosice, so you can see where these places are in relation to the castle.

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Have you stumbled across any castles recently?

About the author

Teresa Keane

Teresa has been to almost 60 countries. She started travelling independently at the age of 38 when she gave up her job, rented out her house, put her possessions in storage and spent a year travelling the world. It changed her life. She now creates, publishes, & promotes online travel content and is an experienced freelance trainer & EFL teacher.

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