Devín - exception to the rule

TIME has been merciless when it comes to Slovakia's castles. Many are in ruins that slowly disappear when no intervention is forthcoming. Devín, the symbol of Slavic fame during the Great Moravian time, is one of the lucky ones to survive.

The cracks in the castle's rock point to the urgent need for the reconstruction that is under way.
photo: Lívia Tóthová

TIME has been merciless when it comes to Slovakia's castles. Many are in ruins that slowly disappear when no intervention is forthcoming. Devín, the symbol of Slavic fame during the Great Moravian time, is one of the lucky ones to survive.

Extensive conservation and restoration work on the castle, which towers over the junction of the Danube and Morava rivers, started in 1991. The money comes from Bratislava's conservation organization Paming, founded in 1990 with the aim to support renovation of the capital's historical monuments.

By the end of last year a total of Sk125 million (€3.3 million) had been poured into Devín's restoration. Paming expects to invest twice as much before the work is completed by 2010.

"Currently, the central part of the hill-fort is being finished," said Zdenka Turzíková from Paming. In four years, there has been work on the pavement, the exposition room in the Renaissance palace, and administrative offices, as well as draining of the courtyard and installation of transmission and lighting circuits.

Archaeological research took place along with the restoration and according to Turzíková it revealed rare remains of Roman architecture.

The Slavic hill-fort Devín, which was first mentioned in 846, was proclaimed a Slovak national cultural monument in 1961.

That the castle is in urgent need of restoration is evident from the cracks found in the castle's rock. If they expand, they could destroy large parts of it. According to Turzíková this could lead to the same scenario as happened to Trenčín castle three years ago, when its western wall collapsed.

"I assume so, considering that both castle constructions are protruding and subject to maleficent weather factors. The place is being monitored and we are preparing rescue works. However, we still feel the lack of funding here," Turzíková said.

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