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St. Anton Castle
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Journeying Trough Slovakia 1997

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A country estate of the Bugarian Czar

I wanted to visit Antol Manor house for many years, as it is written about in many books and tourist brochures as the Hunters museum. As I was going through the village of St. Anton I thought that Antol must be near-by. Passing through the village's historical part on the left side hill was the manor house. They have recently changed their name from Antol to St. Anton as it was called originally many years ago. I have soon discovered that the real triumph of this manor house isn't the hunter's museum at all, but the fact that it was one of the residences of Bulgarian Czar Ferdinand Coburg, the founder of the Bulgarian ruling dynasty.

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The village of St. Anton is first mentioned in 1266. St. Anton manor house was built at the end of the 16th century on the site of a small castle due to the Turkish invasions, under the supervision of an Italian master builder Giullio Ferrari. The documents show the manor house only with two wings still in the last decade of the 17th century. Two more wings were added during expansion in years of 1744-1750 to gain the square shape. There is a legend about the manor house having a "year" symbolism in certain features: 4 wings symbolizing 4 seasons, 12 chimneys as 12 months, 52 rooms as 52 weeks, 7 arcades as 7 days in the week and 365 windows as 365 days in the year. Partial reconstruction during the 19th century altered the symbolism and only some details remain. Kohary's family of noblemen owned the manor house in the 17th century. Stefan Kohary II became famous in the defense of Filakovsky castle where he was captured in 1682. He became hereditary count of Hontianska County and gradually became secret adviser to the Emperor Karol III in 1712; counties judge in 1714 and from 1723 a member of the Governorís Council, the supreme officer of the Hungarian State. In 1732 Andrew Kohary, Stefanís nephew, was the Main Count of the Hont County. He belonged to the new wave of the Hungarian army aristocracy, faithful to Habsburghs (Habsburghs were a Royal Family), that gained its wealth during the anti Turkish fights. After Andrewsís death in 1757 the manor house became property of his three sons: Mikulas, Ignac and Jan. During their ownership there were no major renovations at the manor house. Ignace's son Frantisek Jozef was the last male survivor of the Kohary family. He made some interior renovations in 18th century and with his death the Kohary's ownership of the castle, as they died out by the sword, transferred to the family Coburg in 1829. Ferdinand Coburg, became the founder of the Bulgarian ruling dynasty of the Coburgs in 1887. He reigned until 1918, since 1908 as the Bulgarian Czar. After the WWI he had to flee Bulgaria and stayed in Coburg, Vienna, in Slovakia-St. Anton and Predna Hora. He was also frequent visitor to the spa at Sliac near Zvolen. He loved music. Last time he stayed in Slovakia was in 1944. In the fall of that year he left for his family seat in Coburg, Austria where he died in 1948. His grandson Simeon is still alive and lives in Madrid, Spain. My personal guide lecturer was a young girl Miroslava Ratkayova from Banska Stiavnica. Her lecturing was excellent, as she was able to answer all of my questions. She knows her stuff very well and at least this way I would like to thank her. While transferring from one part of the publicly accessible part of the manor house to another I noticed on one wall original pictures from building the Statute of Liberty in France before casting and then the casted parts and the erection of the statute in New York. I am sure this must be one of their unknown treasures. Continuing further with the viewing of the manor house representative rooms we entered the Golden Salon, by far the nicest salon on the manor house, just incredible. All walls and ceiling are hand painted. The furniture is from the period of classicism in the style of Louis XVI. The furniture was produced in France in the last third of 18th century. It is carved of lime-wood, gilded with 24-carat gold. The furniture pieces are covered with original embroideries made in the manufacture of Philip de la Salle in Lyon, supplier of luxurious textiles to the French royal court. The salon was the wedding gift of Maria Theresia to her daughter Maria Antoinette who married Louis XVI on January 21, 1793. Maria Antoinette was guillotined on Oct. 16, 1793. Soon we entered Chapel dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Banska Stiavnica's painter A. Schmidt richly decorated it with original frescoes in 1748-1752. They represent the Allegory of the Old and New Testament, the Allegory of the Church and Angels-musicians. Continuing to the main floor I saw a display of hunterís instruments and many stuffed animals, some of them now extinct in Slovakia. I would strongly recommend that if you are in Slovakia you put the Manor house at St. Anton on your list. Please note that all museums in Slovakia are closed on Mondays. Keep Monday for visiting your relatives or shopping.

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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.