Located in Bojnice, Slovakia, Bojnice Castle is one of the most important national heritages of the country. It is a medieval castle dating back to the 12th century when Hungarians ruled the region which is today’s Slovakia. The Hungarian Kings and nobles kept the castle and used it as their residence for centuries until the Hungarian kingdom fell. Since the fall of Czechoslovakia, Bojnice Castle belongs to Slovakia and it is one of the most popular sites as thousands of people visit the castle every year.
According to historical documents, Bojnice Castle was only a little, wooden castle when it was first built in the 12th century. However, as times passed, and the power of the kingdom rose, they developed the castle and turned it into an imposing piece; a symbol of strength and authority.
At different centuries the castle belonged to different noble families. The most notable of these families was the Pálffys who kept the castle for 300 years. The Pálffys gave the castle a Baroque outlook after nearly 50 years of redecoration. However, in the early 20th century, the last count of the castle died without an heir. While this started a feud over who gets the castle, WW2 ended the disputes as Europe found itself in a devastating war. After the war, the Czechoslovakian government took the castle’s ownership and turned it into a museum. Although a fire nearly destroyed Bojnice Castle, there are a lot of invaluable items in the museum exhibitions. While some items are from the 19th and 20th centuries, like the Pálffys’ art collection, some items go back as far as the 14th century.
Aside from its architectural value, the castle also has a mythical and legendary status. Bojnice Castle is home to some folk stories locals tell each new generation. The most famous of them is the Legend of the Black Lady. According to the legend, one of the owners of the castle, a lord and a lady, were the perfect couple. They loved inviting and hosting guests but some of them got jealous. The guests started a false rumor that when the lord went to fight, the lady would cheat on her. This angered the lord greatly who devised a way to test his lady’s loyalty.
She told the lady to take their son, go to the highest point of the castle, and throw herself to the moat around the castle. The Lord told her that if she were loyal, she would survive the fall and regain his trust. The lady accepted this and jumped from the tower window. To everyone’s surprise, the lady did not fall but started to float. While this proved the lady’s innocence the villagers witnessed a great horror. A black smoke came from the sky and took the guests who started the rumor with it to the sky. After this event, the lady dressed herself in black and wandered the halls of her castle sometimes appearing as a shadow to guests.