You could say that Orava castle is built in the middle of nowhere and you would be right in a way. It is a nightmare to get there by public transport and even by car it is far away from everywhere. But if you take time and visit this castle you won't regret it. For me, it is one of the most picturesque castles in Slovakia.
It is built on a massive rock above the river Orava in Oravský Podzámok. It is one of the most popular attractions in Slovakia, also because of the fact that it served as a dramatic setting in many movies.
It was built in the 13th century as a small fortress and later rebuilt into a large complex of several buildings. These buildings were constructed to fit to the rock on which the castle stands. Today, there are 154 rooms in the castle. Impressive? It definitely is!
Over the centuries, Orava Castle was owned by many aristocrats, county heads and noblemen, protecting important road to Poland and serving as an administrative and military center for the region.
The castle can be seen from far away and when you stand in front of it you understand that it's going to take some effort to get there. You have to conquer a steep hill to reach the main gate and it's not going to be easy once you cross the gate neither.
The castle is built on various levels and split between the Lower, Middle and Upper castle with palaces, fortification system and towers. There are 754 stairs in the castle! And you will feel it in your legs as not all of these steps are like we know them today. They are higher and you have to lift your legs more than usual. Be ready for some serious workout!
At the foot of the hill there is a ticket office. You can choose from 3 tours depending on how much time and effort you are willing to invest in the excursion. We took the Big tour which is the combination of the Main tour and the Small tour and allowed us to visit the whole castle.
And here we are in front of the main gate which is the only entrance and exit at the same time to and from the castle. We had to wait a few minutes in front of the entrance until all the participants of our tour managed to hike up the hill and we were ready to go.
LET'S GO INSIDE!!!
As soon as you enter the castle you will be amazed by its size. It is so impressive and looks much bigger than you would expect. I am lucky to have visited this castle a couple of times already but it doesn't cease to surprise me when I enter it.
The castle acquired its final form in 1611 when it was administered by the wealthy Thurzo family. After the death of the last descendant of Thurzo family, the castle changed its owners frequently. Unfortunately, it was destroyed by several days and nights long fire in 1800 and left as it was after the fire. After the World War II, the castle was finally reconstructed and saved from its decay.
The castle is full of stories of local people who lived and died there. The legend says that the wife of the son of Francis Thurzo Elizabeth Czobor is on the castle until this day. At night she walks through castle halls and courtyards with a lantern in her hand. Just keep your eyes and ears open and you might see the ghost as well. Scary, isn't it?
Many of scenes from the famous vampire horror film Nosferatu (1922) were shot in Orava Castle.
The night excursions at the castle are possible too. They are popular in summer and very often accompanied by various performances, such as singing, role playing, acting, dancing, and so on.
We are here looking at the Upper castle which is the oldest part of the Orava castle. It used to have various purposes over the years, such as a military base, storehouse or a residential building. The highest part of the citadel is on a steep limestone rock 112 m above the surface of the river Orava.
To get there you will need to use some steep and narrow iron staircase, but the view is well worth it. Can you see those people up there? Yes, this is where we will go.
The best time to visit Orava castle is when it doesn't rain as the staircases connecting various buildings are outside and you don't want to get soaked during your tour.
There are various exhibitions, such as The Exhibition of Natural History, The Exhibition of Period Furniture and The Ethnographic Exhibition, or The Exhibition of Historical Textiles.
These exhibitions focus mainly on the specificity of Orava region reflected in daily life of poor as well as wealthy people. You can see some features from their craftsmanship, household, nature or traditions.
The Orava castle is towering high above the country, so it was not very accessible to the enemies. However, there was still a need for weapons in case of an attack. You can see various weapons on the castle, such as this canon.
Some of the canons are replicas and you could touch them as well.
Most of the pieces of the furniture exhibition come from the late 19th and early 20th century. Particular pieces belong to different styles and display the preferences of the society at that time.
Here are some views from the castle. After a long excursion we finally got to see those views. It was spectacular! We were tired and hungry but still happy.
Can you see the Slovak flag on the right?
When we were done with the excursion we went down to the village and had a big lunch as we deserved it! We were starving. We had a traditional Slovak meal, but I think that any meal would do it when you're so hungry.
Thank you for visiting!
View this post on TravelFeed for the best experience.