The castle Devín is a must-see location when you decide to visit Bratislava. It is located in the place of confluence of the rivers Danube and Moravia which form the border with Austria, just 10 km west from the old town. It was built on a rock at 212 m above the sea level, on the site of a Roman building and a Great Moravian castle, already known in 864 as Dowina. This castle has an important role in the Slovak history and in 1961 was declared a National Historic Landmark.
Up until just 30 years ago there was the Iron curtain with barbed wire drawn below the castle. Why? Because this place separated the West from the East. It marked the border to Austria which was a free country and people from the Eastern bloc couldn’t travel freely to this part of Europe. Many people were shot dead trying to escape the country and swim across the river.
You can easily reach the castle by car, bus or sightseeing boat. We chose the last option and boarded the cruise at the Bratislava castle. It takes 1 hour and 30 minutes to get to the ruins by boat. It is much faster to go by car or by bus, but we wanted to enjoy the experience. When you’re on the cruise you get to see the city from another perspective. Well, through dirty windows but this was just a small detail.
When we arrived and we got to see this part of the castle we were already excited.
We had read before that there was a steep, seemingly endless staircase leading there and it was a very hot day, but we still wanted to do it.
Legend says that this tower is called the Virgin Tower. Do you know how the tower came to its name? Mikuláš, the owner of the castle Devín fell in love with Margaretka. She fell in love with him as well, but her father disagreed with their marriage. Mikuláš kidnapped Margaretka and took her to his castle. Everything was ready for the wedding and the couple said yes when the wedding was interrupted by Margaretka’s uncle and his soldiers. The couple escape to the tower and here her uncle ‘freed’ Margaretka who was still a virgin and Mikuláš was killed. She then committed suicide and the tower has been known as the Virgin Tower ever since.
Devín was probably inhabited since the 1st century by German folks who built here their stone constructions.
It is not exactly known when the castle was built but its first mention dates back to 864. The castle was enlarged in the 15th century when it was owned by the Garay family. Other important families who owned the castle were Hunt-Poznan family, Bathory family, or Palffy family.
The castle was destroyed in 1809 by the troops of Napoleon’s army. At that time, it didn’t have any military function, so it is not known why this decision was taken and the castle was destroyed. The soldiers place mines under the upper and the middle castle and let them explode. It was a disaster and blocks of masonry collapsed into the Danube.
LET’S WALK UP TO THE CASTLE
On the way we took a peek inside of this cave. It only looks like there is something interesting inside 😊
When we finally arrived in front of the castle we noticed that there was some kind of an exhibition.
It’s a pity but there was no information there and I hoped to find something on Google, so I didn’t ask at the castle. Unfortunately, I cannot find any details about this art exhibition but I can show you a few photos.
There were more sculptures, but we were a little crazy and took inappropriate photos that I don’t dare to share. To give you an example, there was one grilled sausage sculpture (Slovak people loved this kind of a sausage. Its name is špekáčik in Slovak) and we pretended that we took a bite. The idea was great, but the execution sucked and the photo is very bad.
My favorite sculpture was this one. I think that it should symbolize heads of two bears – maybe a mother with her child. I can imagine that I’m right as there are a lot of bears in Slovakia, so this could be some kind of a symbol.
After we purchased our tickets (EUR 5 per person) we finally crossed the gate and reached the castle.
It was a boiling hot day, so we didn’t spend that much time outside and went to see the exposition inside. It wasn’t that interesting I must say. There were just a few artifacts and apparently everyone wanted to escape the heat, so it was crowded as well.
The period when the castle was owned by the Garay family, is also associated with the construction of a 55 m deep well, which is located in the courtyard of the middle castle. If you want to get a feeling how high you are, you can pour water from the bucket in the well and count how long it takes to reach the bottom. I am not going to tell you that 😊
The castle is known for its many legends about love, not only the one about Mikuláš and Margaretka.
The oldest legend is about Miloslava – beautiful daughter of Rastislav. Slavoboj, who fell in love with Miloslava, wanted to build a well on the castle. He succeeded in defeating a dangerous dragon that was blocking the spring underneath the castle and saw the water coming out of a hole. He also took dragon’s magical sword. When Slavoboj died, the sword returned to the underground and will emerge when the Slovaks will be in the worst situation. Nobody knows what that worst situation will be but we will understand once we see the sword 😊 Who knows if this is how the well was built?…
The castle Devín is settled in picturesque surroundings and it is definitely worth a visit. You can learn a lot about the history and walk on the grounds which was inhabited almost 2000 years ago!
I hope that you have enjoyed our tour!
Thank you for visiting!