Hrad is the Slovakian word for castle, and Stara L’ubovna is home to one of the very few in the entire country that has been restored and is open to the public.
In a country where the transition to the Euro hasn’t been a smooth one, where poverty is a real and daily event, where the national debt has increased tenfold over the last few years and showing no signs of slowing down, giving money to preserve the national heritage isn’t seen as primordially important.
Originally built in the 14th century,
its role being to protect the trade routes between Poland and Hungary along the Poprad River,
the castle changed hands many times, being fought over, given as a present, protecting the Polish coronation jewels and housing the prisoner Moric Benovsky (just your average nobleman, adventurer and King of Madagascar) (the photo may not ACTUALLY be him)
before finally settling into the hands of a private family. The family stayed here until just before WW2 before being forced to move out, as the beautiful building was crumbling around their ears. It remained empty until the late 60’s when a group of squatters moved in, carried out some basic repairs and stayed there trouble free until the government decided (with the help of several rich foreign benefactors) that the castle should be saved.
A large and very expensive reconstruction took place, with the chapel tower being finished in 1991. Climb up here and the views are impressive, easy to see why the castle was sited here, the views go on and on and on.
I spent the best part of a day here, as well as the castle and its many exhibitions, there is also an open air “living museum” at the bottom of the hill. Its a fascinating place, history dating back over 500 years as well as artefacts and photo’s from the last owners of the palace, combined with hawk shows
a brewery and loads of other things to do during the day.
They’ve even installed WiFi throughout the grounds. What a place, well worth a visit.
The letter H was bought to you by: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/