Saturday, July 31, 2010

Hrad Strečno

Fortification: Hrad Strečno
Location: Strečno, Slovakia
Built: Believed to have been built by the 13th century. First written mention of the castle is in 1384.

Remaining original structures: Various walls and towers (see model of ruins).

Strečno is an impressive castle set on a very large chunk of rock. It's situated to protect the Vah river and the southwest plains.

I should note I 'cheated' with the zoom lens for this shot.

The road to Strečno:

Lucky for me, the road wasn't as steep or as long as some of the others, but it was still a fair climb. Then again, I hail from Delaware, the flat state.

Arriving at the castle:

There's another bridge just behind me. Take note of the above shot for when we get to the models of the castle.

Stepping inside, we have the entrance into the castle:

And to our right, extending off the South Palace:

Here is a model of the ruins of the castle:

This is how the castle looked in the 1930s.

I do not have a map of Strečno, so the following model will have to suffice. You may want to open both views in a new window.

The picture I took just outside the gate, between the bridges, was historically where the second gatehouse (and the associated building) once stood. From said photo you can see some of the remains of the wall stretching down the hill.

If you look at the first picture of the castle model (not the ruins), you will see the Main Tower rising above the rest of the castle. The South Palace is the building in the middle, below the Main Tower, and with four chimneys.  To the left or west of the Main Tower there is the long and narrow Main Courtyard.

To the east of the tower is the East Palace, and if you look at the second picture of the castle model, you will see that there is an unenclosed area which is a small courtyard. I shall call it the East Courtyard since I don't have its name.

Moving north from there, we have the North Palace, the Chapel (rising slightly above the other buildings), and the North Tower.

Looking from the north:

Going from roof to roof- We have the small tower on the northern most point (unfortunately not reconstructed and not part of the tour). Next is a single story building which I also don't know the name of. I do know the entrances have been changed over time and it may have served different functions depending on the period. Next is the two story building with three large windows which is the North Tower. Note that the Tower and the single story building are not fully connected and there is a wedge shaped open area between them. The next building, and second tallest of the whole castle, is the Chapel.

So now that you are hopefully oriented, back to the walk through. Randomly, we have a mammoth's tooth, found at or near the castle:

And an image of a house from the paleolithic period:

There were some old tools and artifacts on display as well, but none of my photos came out well.

Below is the main part of the South Palace. It was once covered by a roof and you can see where the floor of the second level once lay:

It's a pretty large building. To the right is more rooms of the South Palace, and these have been restored. They hold the kitchen, which I'll show you in a moment, and on the second level is the room with the models and archeological findings.

Here is a video of the open area of the South Palace, starting with a look at the Main Tower:

Entering into a south facing room, we have what was believed to be the kitchen, with remains of a fireplace:

Some old cookware:

Looking south, from the upstairs of the South Palace:

So, cutting across the ruined part of the South Palace and heading north up these stairs:

As we walked around, the place felt like a bit of a maze. This may be more to do with the fact that I was walking around ruins than any actual complicated structures. Here we have a cistern, situated within the 'East Courtyard'

Water was caught from the roofs, in gutters, and directed to this cistern. It was made of stone, with a layer of clay to prevent leakage of the water. It is 3.5 meters deep and has a diameter of 2.6 meters.

Looking from west to east (below), you can see why I felt like I was in a maze. The bottom left door, by the stairs, leads to a torture chamber. The cistern is not visible, but you could see it if you leaned forward and looked down from this position. The far wall is the remains of the East Palace, and some of that wall is original, having survived the neglect over the years. Through the central window you can just make out the Vah river.

Another view of the Vah river, as we climb the Main Tower:

And the view from the top:

And a nearly 360 view from the towers, in two videos:

The second video begins looking south and down into the now open South Palace (with the covered and restored sections around it)...

And now the north end of the castle:

So, heading down the tower and carrying forward, we pause at the aforementioned torture chamber:

I was never comfortable thinking about all the things they have done to people in castles...

Inside the North Palace, the area wasn't fully reconstructed. Here we have what's left of one of the toilets, which of course opened to the outside. You can see the outer protuberance on the model, above, if you look closely. There was also a toilet in the East Palace.

We soon found ourselves in the Chapel (please forgive me the poorly framed shot):

The ceiling was quite impressive. The former ceiling was found in the chapel and dumped in one of the wells. The new ceiling is reconstructed based on that finding. It is an impressive Gothic vault with a star pattern.

In the Chapel they displayed some of the coat of arms of the original proprietors of the castle:

The chapel was once divided into three floors. I'm standing on the reconstructed second floor for these photos, which was once accessed by an outside stairwell, along with the third floor. Now there is a window where the interlocking doors once stood.

There is a crypt beneath the chapel floor, as is common. Zofia Bosniakova was laid to rest here. She was 35 when she died, and was loved for her good deeds and warm heart. She established hospitals and took care of orphans and the poor. When they found her body 45 years later, mummified and intact, people were convinced she was a saint.

Zofia's husband, Frantisek Veseleny, and she were first happily married. Later, however, he often left the castle to visit another woman, Maria Szecy. Zofia went daily to the chapel to pray to God to return her lost love to her. When she died, Frantisek married Maria.

There is an excellent 360 view of the Chapel, the main courtyard, and other areas in the link at the end of this post.

Speaking of the main courtyard, here we are, facing the Main Tower:

The well and the entrance building (center):

The Main Tower is recognizable by the slightly different pattern of stones and the fact that it rises above the other structures.

The well is 88 meters deep. Archeologists found the aforementioned ceiling, tools, trash, and other parts of the architecture from when the castle was at one point being destroyed. Unfortunately I don't have any other information about why that was done.

Still in the courtyard, we can see the North Tower and the Chapel towering above it:

Wandering the North Tower now, we have an open fireplace and chimney:

This is a northwest view from the North Tower:

Unfortunately I did not learn what the remaining buildings on the north end were for, and our guided tour quickly came to an end.

As we walked out, I got this shot inside the entrance building:

Here's a cannon:

Still inside the castle walls, here is a view of the west side of Strečno:

Heading out:

A view of the castle from across the Vah River:

More pictures can be found here.

A 360 view of many areas of Strečno, including the Chapel and Main Courtyard, can be found here

I hope you enjoyed the tour, and I apologize if it seemed a bit disjointed.


  1. Excellent presentation of this amazing and intriguing castle. This is a beautiful country. Thank you for sharing your visit. I thoroughly enjoyed this tour. My imagination is now off to a great start. More research on the horizon for me. The study of castles is a new hobby of mine. I appreciate those who are able to travel and share their views and insights about lifestyles and other cultures. 8-)

    1. Thanks for the feedback and I'm glad you enjoyed :)