Bojnice Castle

A historical and romantic chateau in Slovakia

Address

Zámok a okolie 1, 97201 Bojnice, Slovakia

GPS: 48.780954619119, 18.578157514852

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Nestled in the Nitra Valley in central Slovakia, Bojnice Castle is one of the oldest and most visited historical sites in Central Europe. Its location on the edge of vast wooded areas makes it a poetic stop for history buffs and nature lovers.

The Bojnice estate was probably founded at the beginning of the 12th century on a travertine hill overlooking the small town of the same name. It started as a wooden fort and was constructed in stone about 100 years later. After changing owners several times in the Middle Ages, Bojnice Castle was inhabited by the most noble and aristocratic families of Hungary. The most famous of them was the Pálffy family, who occupied the castle from 1643 to 1918 (the year of the creation of the First Czechoslovak Republic). It was at the end of the 19th century that Count János Ferenc Pálffy, a well-informed collector, decided to remodel the chateau in a romantic style inspired by the most beautiful Loire Valley castles in France. Architectural elements from the Renaissance period were incorporated into the original Gothic structure of the monument. Count Pálffy died in Vienna in 1908, two years before the work was completed. As there was no direct descendant to inherit Bojnice Castle, conflicts of succession broke out in the family. An auction was held in the 1920s to dispose of part of Count Pálffy’s art collection. A few years later, the descendants sold the entire estate. Sensing a bargain, Czech entrepreneur Jan Antonín Baťa (owner of the shoe manufacturing company Bata) acquired the castle in 1939.

At the end of World War II, Bojnice Castle fell into the hands of the Czechoslovak state and then into the hands of the Communists at the beginning of the Cold War (following the Prague coup). In the interim decrees were passed to confiscate and nationalize several properties and industries in the area. Bojnice Castle was one of them, but it burned down a few years later. It was rebuilt in its entirety by the government and converted into the Slovak National Museum in the 1950s. The castle and its wooded park were finally opened to visitors in accordance with the wishes of Count Pálffy, whose tomb, a red marble sarcophagus, rests inside the castle.

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  • The architecture combining the Gothic and Renaissance periods; the romantic style of the castle
  • A visit to the cave (where bones of a Neanderthal man were discovered) and the chapel
  • The sumptuous salon with its gold-covered pinewood ceiling
  • The towers and turrets; the huge spiral staircase; the steep roofs
  • The museum and its collections of paintings, sculptures, furniture and tapestries, mainly from Count János Ferenc Pálffy
  • The castle park with its many rare species of trees including the Lipa krala Mateja (one of the oldest lime trees in Slovakia)
  • Walks in the surrounding forests
  • Night tours in July and August conducted by a guide in period costume (book in advance); activities organized for children in high season
  • Numerous organized events in Bojnice Castle: Valentine’s Day (February), the International Festival of Ghosts and Monsters (May), the Fairy Tale Festival (June), the Summer Music Festival (July-August), the “All in the Castle” festival on the theme of knights (August), Christmas decorations and festivities, theatrical performances…
  • Bojnice Castle was built near natural mineral springs. This feature has earned the small town of Bojnice the title of the oldest spa in Slovakia.
  • The landscape park of the castle has many remarkable trees. According to a legend, a lime tree was planted by King Ondrej III in 1301 (the year of his death). This tree was particularly appreciated by the monarch Matthias Corvinus (former king of Hungary and Bohemia in the second half of the 15th century) who liked to hold big parties and meetings under its shade. Another tree, called Ginkgo biloba, is believed to have originated in southeast China and was introduced to Europe in 1727. Considered a medicinal plant, it is the only species to have survived the atomic bombing of Nagasaki in 1945 in Japan.
  • The heirs of the Baťa family (Bata Shoes), who consider themselves victims of expropriation of the Bojnice Castle, have filed a lawsuit for financial compensation. They estimate that the minimum amount of property and assets confiscated in the aftermath of World War II (including factories and private property in addition to the famous Slovak castle) is 1 billion euros.
  • Located near the town of Prievidza, Bojnice Castle is closed on Mondays except in July and August. Admission is free on the first Sunday of each month.
  • The nearest bus station to Bojnice is in the nearby town of Prievidza. There is a charge for parking around the castle.
  • Guided tours, conducted in foreign languages, can be arranged on request at least three days in advance (valid for a group of at least 15 people) to the following e-mail address: rezervacie@bojnicecastle.sk.
  • Visits without reservation are offered in German and English (times vary depending on the season). You only need to arrive one hour in advance to join a group of foreign tourists.
  • Candlelight tours of Bojnice Castle take place every two weeks on Fridays and Saturdays in July and August, starting at 8 pm (it is advisable to book at least three days in advance).

Where to eat

  • Salas
    (traditional Slovakian cuisine)
  • Muzika
    (excellent quality/price ratio)
  • Biograf
    (pleasant, warm and refined)

Where to go

  • Bojnice Zoo
    (the oldest zoo in the country)
  • Museum of Prehistory
    (suitable for children)
  • Bojnice Spa
    (spa)

Where to stay

  • Penzión Maxim
    (hearty breakfast)
  • Penzión Termal
    (spacious rooms)
  • Hotel Bojnický Vínny Dom
    (cozy and comfortable)