Welcome to the venerable Ľubovňa castle (Castello di Lubowna). We are happy to invite you to get to know its intriguing architecture and rich history of more than seven centuries. Andrew III, King of Hungary, had it built in the 13th century. From 1412 to 1772 it was impawned to the kings of Poland, and administered by Polish starostas.
1. High Baroque bastion with entry gate
Built in the 1620s (before 1627) while Stanislaus Lubomirski was starosta, on the site of an older stone gate. It secured entry to the castle from the south-east. The Baroque gate’s passageway holds the original iron-sheathed gates, accessed via a drawbridge. Machicolations, through which burning pitch was poured when necessary, are situated over the gate. In 1746 they called this bastion Bierfas: beer barrel.
2. Renaissance tower and gate – Boner’s gate
Erected after 1553, while John Boner was starosta, by extending the medieval gate toward the lower castle. At present it can be entered only through a pedestrian’s passage, because the larger opening for wagons and coaches was walled up and altered to become an embrasure. The gateway has a preserved and precious Renaissance portal. A portcullis also secured this entry to the castle. The Renaissance gate lost its function in the 17th century, when the new Baroque gate went up. Now the tower contains a basic overview of the castle’s construction history, presenting its three phases – Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque. The Renaissance and Baroque inscriptions on display, from the 16th and 17th centuries, expound the services of different starostas in the castle’s repairs and renovation (Renaissance inscription of starosta John Boner, for rebuilding the castle after the 1555 fire (at centre is the royal seal of the Polish ruler Sigismund II Augustus), memorial inscriptions on the Lubomirski family starostas from the 17th century).
3. Renaissance bastion (roundel)
Stará Ľubovňa’s residents built this roundel, by the medieval gate into the lower castle, in 1528, while Peter Kmita III was starosta. One reason for the Renaissance renovation of the castle fortifications in the second quarter of the 16th century was the growing Turkish threat. Originally, the lower part of the roundel featured three large gun embrasures. After the first courtyard was created in the 1620s (by 1627), this bastion lost its earlier defensive function, and one of the three embrasures became a gate for passing from the first courtyard to the second.
4. Historical exhibit: overview of key events in the castle’s history
- 1294: Castle erected by Andrew III, King of Hungary.
- 1311: First written mention of the castle
- 1323: Castle in the possession of the Drugeth family, until 1342
- 1343: The Hungarian ruler Louis the Great granted town privileges to Stará Ľubovňa
- 1392: Mary, Queen of Hungary, visited the castle
- 1396: Sigismund of Luxemburg, King of Hungary, visited the castle
- 1412: In March of this year, the castle hosted a meeting of the sovereigns of Hungary
(Sigismund of Luxemburg) and Poland (Wladislaus II), who signed a peace treaty here
- 1412: For a loan of 37,000 sixty-counts of Czech groschen, on 8 November Sigismund of Luxemburg impawned to the Polish king Wladislaus II the Ľubovňa castle, with the towns of Stará Ľubovňa, Podolínec, Hniezdne and an additional 13 towns in Spiš (Scepus)
- 1412: The castle becomes the seat of the administrator (starosta) of the impawned territory
- 1494: John Albert, King of Poland, visited the castle; at the time its administration belonged to the Polish noble family of Kmita (from about 1476 to 1506 and 1522 to 1553)
- 1553: After a fire, the Polish sovereign Sigismund II Augustus ordered the castle be renovated, while John Boner was starosta
- 1591: Administration of the impawned territory belongs to the Polish noble family of Lubomirski from this year until 1745
- 1656: The Polish king John Casimir visited the castle, at a time when the Polish crown jewels were deposited here (1655 – 1661)
- 1658: Poland’s Sejm classified the castle among six fortresses maintained at the state’s expense
- 1683: John Sobieski, King of Poland, visited the castle
- 1768: Maurice Benyovszky, later called King of Madagascar, was imprisoned in the castle
- 1772: On 8 November, during the reign of Maria Theresa, Queen of Hungary, the castle was ceremonially taken into Hungarian administration. Polish administration of the impawned territory lasted 360 years.
- 1825: The Hungarian nobleman George Felix Raisz buys the castle from the state; the family owned it until 1880
- 1882: Castle in the possession of the Polish noble family of Zamoyski until 1945
- 1945: The Czechoslovak state takes ownership of the castle
- 1966: A museum is established at the castle, through the work of Andrej Čepiššák
5. Baroque palace
In the gate’s passageway is an inscription from 1642, documenting the service of Stanislaus Lubomirski on the construction of this palace and gate (5). Its ground floor features an exhibit of guilds and crafts from the former royal towns in the castle’s vicinity (Hniezdne, Podolínec and Stará Ľubovňa). Among its most precious displays are guild boxes from the 18th and 19th centuries.
6. Western Renaissance bastion and casemates (underground corridors -7)
Erected after 1544 (and already standing by 1553) while Peter Kmita III was starosta, and designed by the Italian architect Antonius. It defended the castle from the south-west side, the most vulnerable spot. 8 gun embrasures ran around the western bastion’s upper and lower parts. These 16 embrasures formed the mainstay of the castle defences. By 1617 the cannon here had been named dragon, tomcat, drone, and falcon. Air shafts open to the exterior to ventilate the underground corridors – the casemates. This is the only preserved bastion of its type in Slovakia (orillons, Italian for a bastion with “ears”).
8. Later Gothic gate
From the 15th century, this was the entryway to the upper castle. Its Gothic-period portal – a “donkey’s back” – has been preserved. It was rebuilt in the 16th century in Renaissance style. Its first gate doors were of iron, and second of oak. It currently houses the period vehicles (wagon, carriage, sledge etc.).
9. Baroque palace – Raisz family exhibit
The left part of the palace presents a hunting room and meeting hall, with unique art-deco furniture. The left part of the palace houses an exhibit dedicated to the castle’s owners from 1825 to 1880 and the palace’s last residents, the noble family of Raisz.
10. Baroque chapel
The St Michael Chapel was built in 1647, as documented by the inscription on the oval tablet over the entry. In front of it is a cemetery, where among others George Felix and Apolónia Raisz, owners of the castle, are interred. Of all the earliest furnishings, three Baroque altars and a baptismal font have been preserved.
11. Exhibition hall
Since the 16th century, this housed living quarters. In 1746 this castle component was referred to as the hall. As you leave the exhibition hall, note the travertine block in the left-hand wall. This is a remnant of the castle’s first Early Gothic gate, with a “wolf pit” dug underneath. Spikes were thickly placed at its bottom, and it was spanned by a drawbridge.
12. Gothic palace
At the centre of the old castle lie the ruins of the Gothic palace, erected around 1300 or perhaps later in the 14th century. After a fire in 1553, it was rebuilt in Renaissance style. Three vaulted cellars, joined into rock after 1553, have been preserved under the palace; storage space was on the ground floor, and above it a hall with large windows, with rooms on the top floor. Only from the third floor (through an entry with a portcullis) was it possible to pass into the upper part of the tower. By 1746 this building was referred to as the treasury.
13. Gothic tower – bergfried
Built around 1300 or later in the 14th century. Later, three supporting pillars were added. The ground floor served for ammunition storage. Above it was another store room, which also provided entry to the first floor of the Gothic palace. The next floor housed a prison, which the known adventurer Maurice Benyovszky came to know in 1768. More storage was on the third floor, gunpowder was stored on the fourth floor, two cannon were placed on the fifth floor, and the sixth floor was the trumpeter’s room (currently an observation deck). The tower offers a beautiful view of the Tatra Mountains and the Tri koruny (“Three crowns”) hill in Pieniny.
14. Renaissance palace
Please tour this palace from the upper rooms downwards. It was built on the site of the medieval kitchen some time after 1553, using designs by the architect Joannes Frankenstein. A brewery was hewn into the rock of the lower portion; above this was a bakery; and above the bakery were kitchens and storerooms. The very top housed the great hall and living quarters. At present, the upper portion is used to present the palace’s construction and renovation, and the lower portion an exhibit on liquor distillery and brewing.
15. Castle well
Dug in the Middle Ages. It was mentioned in writing starting in the 16th century, when the bakery stood next to it (1553). From the middle of this century it was no longer the only water source, as after 1553 waterworks were added to the castle. The water flowed through wooden pipes from the adjacent hill.
16. Replicas of Polish crown jewels
In the 17th century, soldiers were quartered in the space beneath the chapel. The original furnace has been preserved to the present day. At the centre of the room are replicas of the Polish crown jewels that were deposited at the castle from 1655 to 1661.
17. High bastion – Zamoyski family exhibit
In the 18th century, a governor – the administrator of the impawned territory – lived in the upper bastion. At present, it houses an exhibit on the last private owners of the castle, from 1882 to 1945: the noble family of Zamoyski. The room contains an original collection from the 19th century, mainly from the time when Count John Zamoyski and the Spanish princess Isabella of Bourbon called it home.
We would also like to invite you to the Ľubovniansky skanzen open air museum, featuring a wooden church with a rare iconostasis, and the nearby Dunajec castle in Niedzica.