Fiľakovo - the ghost of Turkish invasions past

An hour and a half southwest of Rožňava lies Fiľakovo, a small town near the border with Hungary. While the town is pleasant enough in itself, it is perhaps better known for the impressive castle ruin that frowns over the settlement from 65 meters above.
Fiľakovo's town emblem, a palm tree on a green hill, bears testament to the 40 years it spent under Turkish rule. Unlike most other castles on the former Hungarian frontier, the Fiľakovo fortress was conquered during the Turkish invasion in 1554. The Turks then ruled here until 1593, when Counts Nicholas Pálffy and Christoph Tieffenbach reclaimed the site for Hungary.


Fiľakovo Castle towers over the south Slovak town of the same name.
Matthew Evans

An hour and a half southwest of Rožňava lies Fiľakovo, a small town near the border with Hungary. While the town is pleasant enough in itself, it is perhaps better known for the impressive castle ruin that frowns over the settlement from 65 meters above.

Fiľakovo's town emblem, a palm tree on a green hill, bears testament to the 40 years it spent under Turkish rule. Unlike most other castles on the former Hungarian frontier, the Fiľakovo fortress was conquered during the Turkish invasion in 1554. The Turks then ruled here until 1593, when Counts Nicholas Pálffy and Christoph Tieffenbach reclaimed the site for Hungary.

Besides the Turks, Fiľakovo attracted a colorful and bewildering cast of conquerors throughout its 750-year history. Bebek, Koháry, and Perényis top the long list of Hungarian noble families who played hot potato with the village (known to them as Fulek). Matúš Čák of Trenčin ruled here during the 14th century. Emerich Thškšly, the reigning prince of Transylvania, was proclaimed king of Hungary in Fulek in 1682 after destroying the castle. Only in the past few years - during a respite from to-and-froing armies - have the main gate and the striking Bebek Tower been refitted with wooden roofs and garrison.

The best times to visit Fiľakovo are during the spring and summer, as the castle is closed in winter according to the museum curator (although neither the Lučenec tourist office nor the sign outside the gate indicate this). Even when closed, however, the castle can be studied from the park that lies between the modern fence and the Bebek Tower.

Be sure to visit the museum below the castle on Hlavná ulica before hiking up to the ruins. There's a model of the castle in 1670, as well as portraits of Turkish sultans decked out in full regalia to greet visitors. Other Turkish relics include pottery, daggers, swords and shields. Noteworthy non-Turkish items include 19th century Czech and Swiss music boxes and a phonograph which plays wooden discs with holes punched in them. If you show enough interest, the friendly curator will literally crank out a Polka or csardás for you. Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 -12:00 and 13:00 - 18:00.

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