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THE POPULAR BOJNICE 2004 GHOST AND SPIRIT FESTIVAL VIVIDLY MARKS THE START OF THE CASTLE SEASON

Burglars haunt the Bojnice Castle



THE CASTLES in Slovakia have not yet fully opened their gates to visitors, but somebody has already stolen the rare historical altar by Tuscan painter Nardo di Cione from the Bojnice Castle.
The recent theft woke up the ghost of the last owner of the castle, Ján František Pálffy, a keen art collector, who immediately started a search for the culprits. History's best detectives, including Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, and Miss Marple, were called to help. The theories for tracking down the burglars are multiplying. According to Count Pálffy's secretary, a reward has been offered to the one who solves the mystery.


THIEVES, ghosts, and guests go medieval at Bojnice Castle.
photo: Courtesy of Bojnice Museum and Braislava City Gallery

THE CASTLES in Slovakia have not yet fully opened their gates to visitors, but somebody has already stolen the rare historical altar by Tuscan painter Nardo di Cione from the Bojnice Castle.

The recent theft woke up the ghost of the last owner of the castle, Ján František Pálffy, a keen art collector, who immediately started a search for the culprits. History's best detectives, including Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, and Miss Marple, were called to help. The theories for tracking down the burglars are multiplying. According to Count Pálffy's secretary, a reward has been offered to the one who solves the mystery.


photo: Courtesy of Bojnice Museum and Braislava City Gallery

Last weekend, the castle welcomed the first several hundred competitors for the award. They gathered during the 11th International Festival of Ghosts and Spirits, the event that annually attracts thousands of visitors from various countries to explore the history of one of Slovakia's oldest and most beautiful castles.

The story of the Mysterious Theft of Bojnice Altar will continue to unfold at the castle for two more weekends - from May 7 to 9, and from May 14 to 16. A hundred of mainly Slovak, but also Polish, Italian, Bulgarian, and Angolan actors dressed in historical and ghostly costumes will accompany the visitors on their way to solving the mystery, occasionally scaring them out of their wits.


photo: Courtesy of Bojnice Museum and Braislava City Gallery

Count Pálffy became the owner of the 12th century castle in 1852. After living abroad for many years, he developed a taste for art, which he systematically transformed into a large collection. Among the several castles that held this collection was the Bojnice Castle, which he reconstructed according to the gothic castles found along France's longest river, the Loire. He died in 1908, stating in his will that his castles be open to the public.

This came true in 1950, when the castle became a museum. Acting under the umbrella of the Slovak National Museum, its expositions present the best of the museum's fund, including the rare 14th century paintings by di Cione, aka the Bojnice Altar, which, from May 6 to June 4, will be displayed in Bratislava at the Pálffy Palace.


photo: Courtesy of Bojnice Museum and Braislava City Gallery

The western Slovak town of Bojnice is five kilometres from the town of Prievidza. The show starts every 15 minutes, from 9:00 until 18:00. Tickets (children Sk90 and adults Sk180) will be available at the castle's door on the days of the festival. Tel: 046/5430-633, (-24). www.bojnicecastle.sk..

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