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Castle Stará Ľubovňa together with castles Plaveč and Nedeca on the eastern side and Orava castle on the western side of the High Tatra mountains belongs to a complex of fortresses, that once protected the borders of former Hungary with Poland.

Pictures below were taken at the opening of the Summer Season 2000, April 30.

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My friend 
Frater Gabriel

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Dominican monks from Košice

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The castle was developed from a former border fortress. It lies on a high mount above former important trade route from east to west and southwest to Austria and Italy. It also controlled additional route leading north to Poland through ancient border crossing at Mnisek under Poprad. Copper and silver ore from Slovak mines was shipped through this route to Baltic sea ports and many other goods among them famous Hungarian wine was shipped on the rafts down the river Poprad, Dunajec and Vistula to Warsaw and to the Baltic sea ports.

There is no written evidence on the founding of the castle. First written document mentioning the castle is from 1311, but the castle existed most probably earlier. It had been founded perhaps in the last decade of the 13th Century. The castle belonged originally to the King but soon it became a feud of the top aristocratic families Aba and Drugeth. The latter had returned it after 1330 to the King.

In 1396, the King Zigmund of Luxembourg had lived there for a long time. In 1412, negotiations between the Hungarian King and Roman Emperor Zigmund and the Polish King Vladislav II Jagellon were held here, concerning the fight against the crusaders and the Turks as well. In the same year, the castle with the adjacent villages and towns, and with further 13 Spis towns fell under a special international status, since the King Zigmund for the borrowed money had pledged the castle to the Polish King. The contract originally intended as temporary measure, lasted 360 years until 1772. Though the castle remained Hungarian possession, it was actually ruled by the Polish King through the captains-mayors who belonged to the high Polish aristocracy, who not only maintained it, but also forced the adjacent towns and villages to pay the taxes and tenths from the castle's feuds.

In 1470, captain Preslav of Dimogice began reconstructing the castle. Under the rule of his successor Peter Kmith, the King Jan Albrecht with his royal group visited the castle in 1494. In the first half of the 16th Century the castle was architecturally completed and modernized. Further 3 towers were erected below the castle. Before the completion of the reconstruction in 1553, the castle had burned down to the ground. Then, under the sponsorship of excellent architects active in the Krakow court - Jan Frankenstein and Anton Italicus, they began with the castle's construction and extension. The works performed during 1554-1557 virtually gave the castle the today's shape and size. It is built as a Renaissance palace and fortress. At that time also new water main was built to the castle.

In 1587, the castle was occupied for two years by Austrian army. About 1593, the castle became a feud of Lubomirsky family, important Polish politicians and army commanders. The castle remained in their possession until 1745. At the beginning of the 17th Century, Sebastian Lubomirsky reconstructed the castle. In 1642-1647, his son Stanislav Lubomirsky had constructed the new palace nearby, the Gun Bastion, the chapel and the entrance gate. In 1655-1661, the Polish coronation treasury was hidden here from the Swedish army.

After the death of Theodor Lubomirsky in 1745, the castle went back under the Polish Crown - to the hand of the Queen Maria Jozefa. At that time several houses and economic buildings into which the castle's inhabitants began moving gradually, were built below the castle. In 1757, the castle went to the hands of the Saxon nobleman Heinrich von Bruel. The last Polish owner of the castle was the King's brother Kazimierz Poniatowski. In late March 1769, the castle was captured by the army of "Barska" confederation, after their retreat, in April of the same year, it was occupied by Austro-Hungarian army. Thus, a new era of the castle's history began, mainly after its definite return back to the Hungarian Crown in 1772, during the First Division of Poland. After the transfer it was used by the army and then by the State Government.

In 1825, the castle was purchased by the Levoca's nobleman Felix Raisz who reconstructed a part of it into an inhabitable state and he himself lived there. After that it went to the possession of the predicate "Lublovari."

In 1880 it was purchased by the town of Stara Lubovna, and two years later by the Polish nobleman Zdmorski who reconstructed it several times, equipped it with furniture and used it as his seat. In 1930's the castle was again reconstructed.
After the end of the World War II, the castle went to the hands of the Czechoslovak State-it was simply confiscated. First it served the needs of the School of Agriculture, then in 1966 the museum was opened, and, at the same time its major reconstruction began. At present, a systematic reconstruction and conservation of the castle is underway.
The museum focuses on the documentation of the history of the castle and its surroundings during the era of the Polish rule and documentation of folk crafts, folk costumes and folk art. There are collections of folk textiles and their use, blueprints, gingerbread-making, candle-making, basket making which survives to the present time in the nearby village Lackova, tinkery, which was until recently a typical supplementary employment of men living in several surrounding villages. Interesting are also the collections of glass-paintings.


Published in the Slovak Heritage Live newsletter Volume3, No.3, Fall 1995
Copyright © Vladimir Linder 1995
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.