Royal castle above Laugaricio (2. part – Inside of the castle)
Posted On 20. January 2019
In the next part of the TripTip about Trenčín castle, we’ll have a look inside of this large fortress! In previous article we arrived to Trenčín, saw the Roman inscription engraved to the rock, got to the castle hill and payed the entrance fee for the tour with the guide. And now we can continue in our trip!
No courtyard, no castle
Trenčín castle can be divided into the lower castle, which consists of courtyard and fortifications, and the upper castle, where the palaces and the castle tower are situated. The walk from the cash desk, situated in a small tower at the entrance to the castle, to the upper castle takes about 5 minutes. In the middle of the route leading to the castle there is fortification element – barbican. Barbican can be described as a tower with a gateway. In case that the castle was attacked by someone, gate was simply closed and defenders of the castle could do their work from the top of this tower.
When you go through the barbican, you’ll get to another tower on which you’ll see the clock and after you pass this tower as well, you’ll see large green courtyard in front of you with a few trees and also with ruins of the buildings, in which people used to live in the past – in safe houses behind the castle walls.
When you’ll enter the courtyard and turn left, you’ll see the stage behind which there is a cannonball bastion – one of many defending elements of the castle. Right in front of it there’s a hand-carved water well, which is 80 meters deep! It is also called the well of love, because of the legend which is connectd with it. According to the legend, the owner of the castle from the past Štefan Zápoľský, Hungarian palatine (man on the second highest position after the king and his representative) from the time of reign of the king Matej Korvín, imprisoned beautiful Fatima and promised to her husband Omar to give her back, if he digs out the well and the water won’t be brought to the castle in the barrels anymore.
As you’ll continue up the courtyard, on your right you’ll see a two-storey building which used to be the castle barracks. Thesedays it serves for various exhibitions – for example when we visited the castle, we saw the exhibition of the folklore and traditional folklore costumes of Slovakia, Da Vinci’s flying machines and also this model of the castle from the 17th century.
We found ourselves in front of the upper castle. Now we have to go around it and get to another, smaller grassy courtyard. On the edge of the courtyard, there is a small tower from which you can see the beautiful panorama of Trenčín and at the distant end the runway of the Trenčín airport.
As well as the view from the tower, the view from the wooden bridge located in the courtyard is very stunning. This bridge will lead you to the upper castle, to Zápoľský’s palace which you’ll enter. As you’ll walk this bridge you may see an unexpected resident of the castle, just like we did. We had no idea how it got there.
Let’s learn something about history of the castle!
In the Zápoľský’s palace you’ll meet your guide. The one we got was a young girl, probably a student, who has this as a part-time job. If you think that age is important in case of guides, it definitely isn’t. Sometimes the person who has this just as a part-time job can tell you more interesting facts than the person who does this job for a living. They are usually very talkative and happy when they can answer your questions. Well, just in case that your questions aren’t nonsenses like, for example: ,,From which type of wood is this floor made of?” or ,,How many nails were used for making this chair?”. Questions like ,,Why don’t you have your own parking lot?” or ,,Why is the admission fee so expensive?” can also make the guide your worst enemy. Of course I am just joking, but for your own good, don’t ask that.
Guides are in the castle to show you the history of the castle, to tell you the secret stories hidden in the castle walls and to bring the life of our ancestors closer to you. They are not builders, constructor workers or castle administrators. That’s why we recommend you to ask questions by which you show that you are really interested about the castle and you listen to the commentary of your guide.
The tour goes in chronological order, that’s why the first thing you’ll see is from the age in which you could hear Old Church Slavonic on the castle mountain and the monarchs were of the same nationality as the people who lived here. You’ll find yourself next to rotunda from times of Great Moravian Empire. It used to be a sacral building for religious purposes with a ground plan of a clover shape. It’s important to say that the clover shape wasn’t very common for builidngs like this one. Also two skeletons from the times of the Great Moravia can be seen next to the rotunda.
From the rotunda we’ll move to Barbora’s palace, inside of which you’ll see objects from the earliest beginnings of the civilisation in the Stone Age and through the Bronze and Iron Age you’ll get to the Roman Empire. In this part you’ll see the copy of the Roman inscription. Another room will tell you something about medieval history and you’ll see there a 3D model of the rotunda and the castle tower from the 13th century as well. You’ll learn there for example why the name of the tower is Matúš’s tower.
The castle of the ruler of the Váh and Tatras
It’s named after Matúš Čák Trenčiansky, also known as ,,the ruler of the Váh and Tatras”. He was the Hungarian palatine and he also became the unlimited ruler of the territory, where Slovakia is thesedays. He lived at the turn of 13th and 14th centuries in Kingdom of Hungary. According to the documents from the past he belonged to the Natio Hungarica (Hungarian Nation), however it’s hard to prove which nation he really was because in that time, all people living in the territory of Kingdom of Hungary were considered to be Hungarian and it didn’t matter which nationality they really were. Matúš himself came from Esztergom, which was settled by Slovaks as well as Hungarian. In 13th century, Trenčín castle became Matúš’s property. He expanded the castle, built a new palace and mainly he did large reconstruction of the tower and also added 3 floors to it, that’s why it’s called Matúš’s tower. One castle wasn’t enought for him, so later he obtained 50 more. He was hungry for power and wanted the Kingdom of Hungary to split into a smaller territories. King Ondrej III. didn’t like his increasing power so he sent the troops against him, but they were defeated by Matúš’s army. Matúš settled down in Trenčín castle, turned it into the monarchal castle and fortress which was comparable to other castles and he started to be the independent monarch at the head of his country. It’s also said that he let himself to be called earl (title similar to a king). The territory he controlled used to be the territory of Principality of Nitra. Thanks to his reign Slovaks could live independently of the Kingdom of Hungary and this was also the time when we started to realize our own national identity.
In next cesturies, the castle was owned by the kings Robert I. and Sigismund of Luxembourg which gave it to his wife, queen Barbara of Cilli. I think it’s a gift that would please every woman. When Barbora had her own castle, she started to decorate it as she wanted to, just like every woman from the past or present, and she built her own palace which is called Barbora’s palace.
From Barbora’s palace we moved to Ľudovít’s palace, where we could see the history by our own eyes. We saw mysterious underground spaces, where used to by the large kitchen as well as the rooms with bedroom or smaller dinning room. We learnt that castle used to have a food elevator. Last part was a hunting room full of trophies, which had to be part of every monarch’s residence back then. This part of the tour was also the last part with the guide.
This’ll be the place when your guide will say goodbye to you and as it’s done in theaters, concerts or other events, if you liked the tour and commentary of your guide you can applaud to him! In foreign countries, people usually also give some money to a guide, and foreigners do it also when they come to Slovakia. And now, let’s go to the tower!
Touch the sky
When we were visiting the castle, the yellow-blue flag was hanged from the tower. The reason wasn’t the visit of Ukrainian delegation, but these colours used to be the symbol of already mentioned ruler of the Váh and Tatras. Matúš’s tower has several floors and to get to the heighest one you have to go through many narrow stairs, on which you should be very careful. Floors itself aren’t as interesting as the view you’ll see when you get to the top!
And as you are standing there, leaning back at the wooden rail of the heighest floor and you realize you are at the tens meters heigh tower standing at a massive rock and right down below your feets is spreading large city, through which proudly flows the Váh river and you can see there in the background wide hayfields and green hills over which bright sunshine lights up infinite dark-blue sky, you can let yourselft think for a while, enjoy that moment and feel like such a powerful ruler staring on the size of his magnificent empire! In that moment you would get a feeling that right you are the ruler of the Váh and Tatras…
Matej is a talktive person who comes from city which used to be known as “the pearl on the Váh river”. We are talking about the Žilina city! This beautiful agglomeration is surrounded by spectacular Slovak nature and plenty of old mediavel castles. Enviroment he grew up in became an object of his fascination and inspired him in interest of a local culture and history, as well as the history of his lovely Slovakia. These factors made Matej to becomes a guide at the nearby Budatín castle. Thanks to his passion you could be looking for the right amount of historical and interesting facts in articles written by him. He likes to stare at the country from the heighest floor of the 32 meters tall tower of Budatín castle, but much more he prefers literally sky views as he is a pilot. That’s why you would wait for some pictures of sights taken from the sky he writes about in his interesting reviews!