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Slovakia: Orava Castle

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Orava Castle | Slovakia | Europe

[Visited: May 2011]

When driving north from Vlkolínec in the late afternoon, I was in a hurry to try and get my first glimpse of Orava castle before sunset. Even though there was shadow in the lower parts of the valley, I assumed that the castle would be on a higher place, and might still be in the sunlight. When I turned a bend in the road, I suddenly saw the castle, high above me - and in the sun. I continued on the road to Trstená, turned around, and had great views of the top of the castle. I went to the village of Oravský Podzámok, where it was more difficult than expected to find a place to sleep. When I came back to my room later that evening, I saw the castle high above me - well-lit, it was the clear star of the village. I was very much looking forward to visiting Orava castle the next day.

Picture of Orava Castle (Slovakia): Orava river with reflection of the castle in the early morning

Since my curtains were still open, my first reaction when I woke up very early, was to look towards Orava castle. It was enveloped by the morning fog. I quickly dressed up, and started walking; first, towards the bridge across Orava river. As expected, the view was better, and the reality exceeded my expectations. The fog was slowly lifting, and when the sun came through, the castle was reflected in the waters of the river. The views from this side were just awesome, and I walked along the river bank from where it seemed Orava castle was growing out of the river and forest below. I walked to the other side of the village, the road to Trstená again, and even walked into the river to have the best view. Now, it was time to actually visit the castle.

Picture of Orava Castle (Slovakia): Stairs leading to a higher level in Orava castle

Opening times as advertised suggested 8.30am, but when I arrived at exactly that time, there were no visitors, and the girl behind the desk said that I would have to wait until the first group: individual visits are not allowed. The group turned out to be a bunch of 8-year old school kids, and I feared a tour with lots of yelling, but it turned out the Slovak teachers had their kids in control. Actually, as soon as one of the kids used the door knocker and the door was opened by a woman dressed in medieval clothes, I knew this was going to be something special. And indeed, at various points throughout Orava castle, actors dressed in medieval clothes would show up to perform sketches. Even though I could not understand a word, they were still worth seeing. The view from the small courtyard was great, and I felt more and more that this castle was a very romantic one. Turrets, stair cases, the cosiness and the layered construction all helped to make this castle stole my heart on the spot. We were guided through rooms with old furniture, weaponry, coats of arms, posh chairs, and libraries, with displays of jewelry, animals, and much more. I very much wanted to reach the highest room, which I had seen from below and which actually hangs over the rock on which it is constructed in an impossible position. Unfortunately, the upper part was under reconstruction, so we could only go back down. At one point, we had to walk down a spiral staircase dug out in the rocks, which allowed an insight on how constructors had been able to build this palace in the 13th century right on top of a narrow shard of rock rising vertically from the Orava river. They did a good job: the castle was never conquered - and how would you? A fire destroyed part of it in the 18th century, which means that most of what you see, actually is in that time. But that was more than beautiful enough, and I was very satisfied when I stepped out of the massive wooden door.

Picture of Orava Castle (Slovakia): Massive tower at the lower parts of the castle
Picture of Orava Castle (Slovakia): Rock needle rising out of the river with Orava castle on top
Picture of Orava Castle (Slovakia): Orava castle is built right on top of a slender rock
Picture of Orava Castle (Slovakia): Gate with draw bridge in the low part of Orava castle
Picture of Orava Castle (Slovakia): Dragon-shaped door knocker to gain access to Orava castle
Picture of Orava Castle (Slovakia): Altar in the chapel in the castle of Orava
Picture of Orava Castle (Slovakia): Slovak cross carved in one of the chairs of Orava castle
Picture of Orava Castle (Slovakia): Orava castle: an extension of the rocks on which it was built
Picture of Orava Castle (Slovakia): View from Orava castle: village and hills in the background
Picture of Orava Castle (Slovakia): Orava castle by night
Picture of Orava Castle (Slovakia): Door with coat of arms and spears inside Orava Castle
Picture of Orava Castle (Slovakia): Looking inside one of the rooms of the castle
Picture of Orava Castle (Slovakia): Interior of one of the rooms of the castle

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