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ZVOLEN'S PUSTY CASTLE

High above Zvolen in the hills is a location of one of the oldest settlements in the Zvolen area The Pusty Castle. This was a military and administrative center in 9th until 11th century when the castle was destroyed and the military and administration has moved away. Pusty Castle used to be called Stary Zvolen or Old Zvolen Castle which became a Royal Comitatus (District, county) castle. Its area was detached from the Hont Comitatus. Comitatus of Zvolen Castle represented extensive Royal area, known as Zvolen Dominion. This included Turiec, Liptov, Orava, and from the 2nd half of 12th century also Northern Tekov belonged in. The beginnings of this castle and its fortification aren't exactly known. 

Through archaeological research we begin to understand the immense size of the castles fortified area. The archeological research is focusing on the period of the castles beginning, the reconstruction's and material proof of its destruction. The oldest structure of the Comitatus Castle is a dwelling in tower from second half of 12th century from a time of the rule of Bela III. (1172-1196). Great building activity is noted in the first third of 13th century. We can mark this period with the time of rule of Ondrej II and Bela IV. During this time huge fortified walls were built around the Comitatus castle. This part of Comitatus Castle represents a fortified area of around 7.6 hectares, thus making it one of the largest in Slovakia's territory. The Royal Comitatus Castle was the center of political, economic and military administration of this region. He was fulfilling this role since the beginning as already in years 1214 and 1222 numerous important privileges were signed in Zvolen. During the next period from 13th to 15th century in the name of great fortification numerous solitary objects were built behind the walls. One of them is a separate enclosed Doncov Castle. Larger part of the castle's objects was destroyed by fire in 1450. During 16th and 17th centuries the castle has only a watch function in defense of Zvolen against the invading Turkish armies. In 18th and 19th century the original name of Old Zvolen is changed to Pustę Castle.

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The systematic research on Pusty Castle brings new discoveries that create various pictures of construction's development of one of the oldest castles in Central Slovakia.

While visiting Zvolen, I stopped by to see my friend and folklorist Katarina Kostialova, who after finishing her studies at University of Nitra works in the Zvolen's museum. She told me about the evaluation of this year's work at the Pusty Hrad castle to be held in few days, so I decided to come and finally visit now preserved ruins of this once great and famous castle. The views as you can see from the pictures are spectacular and I feel there wasn’t more advantageous and more strategic place than this one. You can see past Mount Polana all the way to the Low Tatra Mountains.

GO TO SLOVAKIA'S CASTLES

Published in the Slovak Heritage Live newsletter Volume 5, No. 4, Winter 1997
Copyright © Vladimir Linder 1997
3804 Yale Street, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada V5C 1P6
The above article and photographs may not be copied, reproduced, republished, or redistributed by any means including electronic, without the express written permission of
Vladimir Linder. All rights reserved.