THE MEDIEVAL TRENČÍN CASTLE OPENS A NEW TOURIST ATTRACTION

Knights joust at Trenčín

ON SUNNY days, one of the oldest castles in Slovakia will beckon visitors to climb its hill with the promise of an ancient story lying behind its gates. It will be a story of love and entertainment, one of the many with a woman as its centrepiece that ends up in fierce combat.
"Tournaments in the Middle Ages were a large economic driving force. It was something like Formula 1 today; money was passed around, accommodation was sold out for days...


THE THINGS men will do for a lady.
photo: Igor Kopecký

ON SUNNY days, one of the oldest castles in Slovakia will beckon visitors to climb its hill with the promise of an ancient story lying behind its gates. It will be a story of love and entertainment, one of the many with a woman as its centrepiece that ends up in fierce combat.

"Tournaments in the Middle Ages were a large economic driving force. It was something like Formula 1 today; money was passed around, accommodation was sold out for days... In addition, they were great social events and the news was spread worldwide," said Dušan Tadlánek from Južné opevnenie, the civic association behind the project.

Trenčín Castle's knights on horses premiered their fighting abilities and techniques in a new performance on May 22, and will continue to come up with the hour-long story each week until June 20.

"In medieval times, knights used to show their skills through various daredevil stunts. For example, a knight would tell a lady to put her hand on his eye, and he would close it and insist he wouldn't open it until he defeated a particular fighter," Tadlánek said.

He explained that the knights at the castle would perform a particular ritual known as Tournaments at the Golden Tree, when a trio of knights painted a tree gold and promised to fight anybody who stood up to them. This time, though, the castle's six knights will wrestle for the "entertainment" of a lady, who will watch their heroic deeds from the safety of a balcony seat.

"Underneath a golden tree a knight will promise a lady that he will organise a tournament in her honour. Each knight who comes will announce his participation by bouncing into his coat-of-arms hanging from the golden tree. First fought on horses, the battle will then transfer to the ground, where the knights will use all accessible weapons, such as axes, swords, and bodkins, to win by any means necessary," said Tadlánek.

The theatrical performance will be in Slovak, but the organiser says that foreigners will have no problem understanding it, as the show is detailed enough to grasp its meaning. As the civic association's name suggests - Južné opevnenie (South Fortification) - the tournaments will take place at the south fortification of the castle, in its upper part. At the end of the performance, children can ride the horses, in order to "calm them down after the tournaments".

The performances for the public start each Saturday and Sunday at 14:00 until June 20. Tickets are Sk60 for adults, Sk40 for children up to 15, and free for children under three. In cases of persisting rain, the show will not take place. It is recommended that spectators come 30 minutes before the show starts and bring sport shoes.

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