SLOVAKIA'S numerous castles give the country a very ancient and well-protected atmosphere.
These stone fortifications, virtually the safest places across the land, were usually inhabited just by the nobility, but in times of danger even ordinary people from the area could be given refuge if the aristocrats were willing to be jammed closer together.
Castles of stone were rarely built in Slovakia before the Tartar invasion of 1241. Their rapid expansion thereafter occurred when aristocrats realised that wooden fortifications could be easily destroyed by fire.
Slovakia’s stone castles have been a source of fascination not only for tourists and history lovers but also for writers and film-makers. But much less known among Slovaks and visitors alike are the older fortification systems that protected residents for centuries before.
Forts built from wood, clay and sometimes stone were erected on many hills and ridges before the Tartar invasion. Some were comparatively small but a few were imposing in size.
Some of these forts have disappeared entirely but on the foundations of many others the stone castles that we know today were built.
Guessing where these forts used to stand is often very easy as a number of hills are currently named after them.
Among these is Zámčisko, which could be translated as “Castle Hill”.
Looking down over the town of Modra, it once held a fort that probably served to guard an important route through the Small Carpathians.
This postcard from 1915 shows a nice lookout point from the top of Zámčisko. Unfortunately, this idyllic seating area no longer exists.
11. May 2009 at 0:00 | By Branislav Chovan