oday we are exploring the medieval castle visible from our hotel room window - Bojnice Castle. We pack up and head downstairs to breakfast. Over breakfast, we discuss the logistics of getting to the castle knowing our propensity for (somehow) getting on the wrong track. We decide to drive to the castle rather than walk (we don't know it yet but this is a wise idea). With the route in the GPS, we confidently start out. Fast forward 20 minutes, and we are wondering why, if we can see the castle from our hotel room, we are seeming heading out of town. After ending up in some random mud-filled parking area, we abandon this route and try another - this time with success. We pay the parking fee and follow the people in the direction of the castle.
Bojnice is a Romanesque castle with original Gothic and Renaissance elements built in the 12th century. The castle was first mentioned in written records in 1113 and was originally built as a wooden fort. The wood was gradually replaced by stone with the outer walls being shaped according to the uneven rocky terrain on which it was built. In 1528 its owners undertook its major reconstruction and the former fortress was turned into a Renaissance castle. From 1646 on, the castle underwent continual renovation with a complex romantic reconstruction from 1888 to 1910 that created today’s beautiful imitation of the French castles of the Loire valley. On 9 May 1950, a fire broke out in the castle, but it was rebuilt at government expense and it is now part of the Slovak National Museum.
As we climb the hill to the castle entrance, we pass many vendors hawking their wares – I imagine this might be similar to the way it has been in the before times. On reaching the top, there is a line – a long line. As we join the end of the line, we are dismayed in what is sure to be a long wait time. The minutes drag on – it is cold and the spot where we are standing seem to be in a wind tunnel. At least it feels like it. After about 30 minutes, a man in a top hat emerged from the castle and approximately 35 people were allowed in. A rough count of the milling horde in front of us gives us rough estimate of an additional hour before we are able to enter. We discuss the merits of waiting and, after checking the handy internet for pics of what we might see inside, we decide to wait. We take turns wandering the grounds to keep warm while we wait.
The castle grounds are beautiful and offer a full view of the castle from all angles.
Slowly we meander our way closer to the coveted entrance gate in 30 – 45 minute segments. At last, after 2 hours standing in the cold and wind, we are within reach. We are quickly counting the number of persons in front of us but this proves to be difficult as this group is a nebulous sort with many joining from some unknown place. Maybe an alternate dimension? Maybe just those benches over there…either way, we are in danger of having to wait another round. We shuffle forward with fingers crossed (or thumbs pressed) we just make it. Hooray! We are in! one of the last to make it. It turns out that it is a free family day – that would explain the number of people in line.
We gather in the inner courtyard waiting for our tour guide and soon we are underway. Of course, the tour is in Slovakian, we have no idea what is being said. However, the tour is well done and showcases many areas of the castle.
The second part of the tour is called the gallery. It seems to house items of art and furniture that do not have a place in the castle at the moment. Most notable (for me) was a beautifully well-preserved tapestry from the 1640s and an overly ornate chandelier.
Another part of the gallery tour is (I think) the chapel. This room is beautiful. Light and colorful.
By the time we are out of the castle it is late, there is no longer a line, and we must be on to our next stop.