While on my way to eastern Slovakia, I wanted to visit Spiš Castle; an easy thing to do, as the main road passes right besides it. When I was getting closer, it was even easier to find the right exit: I spotted it on my right hand side, and it seemed enormous even from a distance. I took a smaller road, and the castle disappeared for a short while behind a hill. When I reached the other side of the hill, and was closer to Spiš Castle, it had grown even more dominating. I was looking forward to my upcoming visit to this medieval fortification. After parking my car, I was in a hurry to get to the entrance as fast as I could. While climbing the hill, it was difficult not to look at the castle, and since the trail was quite easy, there was hardly a reason to mind my step. I found myself right under the defensive walls of the castle, which by now was very impressive.
Its sturdy walls loomed high above me, but seemed close at the same time. Purple and yellow flowers were abundant on the green hill below the castle, and I reached the entrance with my heart beating after the fast ascent of the last steep section. It was only then that I discovered the parking lot almost next to the castle; I could have driven here and saved myself the effort of climbing the hill. Then again, I was happy I had hiked up: it felt like I really conquered Spiš Castle. The inside was quite full of visitors, which is not surprising: the castle is one of the largest castles in Europe and certainly one of the most accessible in Slovakia. Besides, it is a very typical castle, with fat walls and defensive towers covering the top of the hill, and dominating the surrounding area.
The actual Spiš Castle was originally built in the 12th century, but there was another fortification on this same spot even before. This is hardly surprising: not only from below is it clear that this is a very strategic location, it is when you reach the flat roof of the tallest tower that you realize that you can really dominate the surrounding valleys from here. I explored Spiš Castle trying to avoid the tour groups, which actually proved possible. Thus, I was on top of the castle when the groups were elsewhere, I saw the chapel without a soul in sight, the display of medieval knight attire, instruments to punish captives, and while standing at one of the many points with wide views, fantasized about the princesses that once lived in this enormous construction. The grey in the skies all around me was getting increasingly darker, and when I walked the quite large terrain below the upper part of Spiš Castle, I knew it was going to rain soon, and I hurried on. After exiting the main entrance gate, I almost ran up the hill right next to the castle, and when I turned around, was happy I did: the contours of the castle contrasted sharply with the threatening sky just behind it. On top, lighting was now getting closer and at times seemed to tear the sky apart in a spectacular way. Since I was on top of a hill, and it started to rain seriously, I realized it would be wise to get back to my car as fast as I could. Even then, it was hard to not look back all the time to see Spiš Castle from different angles. When I was back down, heavy rain showers were enveloping the castle in a cloud, which seemed a good time to leave.
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Spiš Castle (). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Spiš Castle.
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