Bojnice Castle

A romantic castle full of mysterious stories.



Bojnice Castle is one of the oldest and most important monuments in Slovakia. It stands on a travertine mound above the city. The first written record of the castle dates back to 1113 – the deed of the Zobor Abbey. Bojnice Castle was originally a wooden castle, an upgrade of the former hillfort. Over the course of the 13th century, the castle was rebuilt in stone by the Poznań family.


At the end of the 13th century, Bojnice Castle was seized by the Hungarian nobleman Matthew III Csák. The castle remained in his hands until 1321. Following the death of Matthew III Csák, several noble families took turns in owning the castle throughout the 14th and 15th centuries – Gileth, Leustach and Noffry families to name a few.

In 1489, King Matthias Corvinus donated Bojnice Castle, together with the estate, to his illegitimate son Jan Corvinus. After the death of King Matthias, the Zápoľský troops seized the castle and occupied it until 1526.


In 1527, King Ferdinand I donated the castle to Alexey Thurzó. The Thurzó family rebuilt the castle into a comfortable Renaissance residence. The original Gothic castle thus acquired the character of a Renaissance castle with residential buildings of the same height grouped around an inner courtyard.


After the Thurzó family died out in 1636, the castle was returned to the crown. A year later, in 1637, Emperor Ferdinand III gave the Bojnice estate to Pavol Pálffy as a deposit in return for two hundred thousand guilders. In 1645, the Pálffy family became the rightful owners of Bojnice Castle. Soon after, construction works began again and the castle took on a Baroque appearance. Construction activities on the castle subsided at the end of the 17th century. The castle did not change much during the 18th and 19th centuries.


After a long period of stagnation and decline, the Bojnice estate was acquired in 1852 by its last noble owner – Count Ján Pálffy. Count Pálffy decided to rebuild the castle into a romantic castle. He used French Gothic castles of the Loire River Valley, the papal palace in Avignon, Tyrolean Gothic castles and early Renaissance Italian architecture as models.

The man who oversaw the neo-Gothic renovation of the castle was none other than the renowned architect Jozef Hubert. However, Mr. Hubert found himself to be a tool in the hands of the rich nobleman. Pálffy himself drew, designed and managed all the works. This neo-Gothic renovation took 22 years (1889 – 1910) to finish.

Count Pálffy did not live to see the new glory of the Bojnice castle, as he died in Vienna on June 2, 1908 as a bachelor. Because he had no direct heirs, soon after his death disputes broke out between relatives over the inheritance. In 1923, a friendly agreement was concluded between the heirs of Count Pálffy and the government of Czechoslovakia. The subject of the agreement was to determine which collections would not be subject to auctions. The auctions of Count Pálffy’s art collections took place in the years 1924 – 1926.


In 1939, the castle and the surrounding land were bought by the company Baťa. After the war, following the issuance of Beneš’s decrees, the property fell to the hands of the state.

In 1950, a museum, now part of the Slovak National Museum, was established in the castle.

Travertine cave

A natural travertine cave with a diameter of 22 m and a height of 6 m is part of Bojnice Castle. It is located 26 meters below the level of the 4th courtyard. The cave was created as a result of water flowing in and disrupting the travertine pile through a crater and external fissures.The water disturbed the travertine and washed it away, thus creating the circular space of the cave with natural decorations on the walls.

There are two ponds in the cave. These are probably connected to other lakes in other underground spaces (travertine is known to house various hollow spaces).

The inhabitants of the castle certainly knew about the existence of the cave – it probably served as a shelter in times of danger as well as a water reservoir. However, it was rediscovered only in 1888, when the castle well was being cleaned and repaired during the last renovation. The cave was first opened to the public in 1967.

Castle park

The Bojnice Castle is surrounded by a landscape park. Originally, it was supposed to be a romantic park with various attractions, old romantic ruins, etc. Like any such park, it did not end with a wall, but “flowed” freely into the landscape and between the adjacent houses.

The earliest records of gardeners at the Bojnice Castle date back to 1910. The park is a home to several rare species of trees.

The King Matthias Lime Tree

According to the legend, the linden tree was planted by Matthew Csák of Trenčín in the year Andrew III, the last king of the House of Árpád, died, i.e. in 1301. The linden tree grew into a beautiful, majestic tree. At the time of its peak, the crown reached a diameter of approximately 36 meters, the main branches reached to a height of 28 meters, and the circumference of the trunk measured 12 meters. King Matthias Corvinus (1458–1490), who is believed to have liked to stay in Bojnice, reputedly organized large feasts and assemblies under the linden tree. His alleged relationship to the tree was purportedly evidenced by the royal charters which he issued supposedly “Sub nostris dilectis tillis bojniciensibus” – Under our beloved Bojnice linden trees. That is why the linden is known as the King Matthias Lime Tree.

The beautiful tree was respected not only by the inhabitants of Bojnice and the castle, but even by the enemies. The weather has not been kind to the linden tree, as storms and winds damaged its largest parts. At the beginning of the 1950s, the staff of the Museum in Bojnice noticed that the tree was rapidly decaying. The first recorded treatment of the linden by museum workers dates to 1952. In 1969, the linden was declared a protected natural creation by the State Nature Conservancy.

Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba is a tree probably originating from Southeastern China. Despite the fact that it has medium-sized leaves, it is not a deciduous tree. Even though it does not belong to the narrower group of conifers (class Pinopsida), it is classified in the broader group of conifers (subtribe Pinophytina). In the Mesozoic, it grew all around the northern hemisphere. Today, there is only one representative of the genus Ginkgo.

Ginkgo biloba was introduced to Europe in 1727. It is a medicinal plant that expands the lumen of the capillaries and thereby improves blood flow to the brain, limbs, etc. The tree grows to a height of 30-40 m. Ginkgo has a strong regenerative capacity. It is the only tree that survived the atomic bombing in Nagasaki.