Spišský hrad is one of the largest castle complexes in Europe. The ruin towers over the place Spišské Podhradie (Kirchdrauf) on a 634 m high hill. The castle was built in the 11th / 12th. Built in the 19th century and expanded several times. The late Romanesque basilica Spišská kapitulá and the Church of the Holy Spirit in Žehra are also part of the World Heritage Site awarded in 1993. In 2009 the cultural heritage was expanded to include the old town of Levoča (Leutschau) and works by Master Paul.
Levoča, Spišský hrad and associated cultural monuments: facts Hide table
|Official title:||Levoča (Leutschau), Spišský hrad (Spišský hrad) and associated cultural monuments|
|Cultural monument:||Medieval castle situated on a 634 m high hill with a Romanesque palace, donjon and Gothic chapel as well as Zápolský palace; Spisská Kapitula (Spiš Chapter), the former seat of the Spiš Propstei with provost and twelve canons; belonging to the chapter: the three-aisled cathedral church of St. Martin with one of the few surviving Romanesque sculptures in the Slovak Republic, the “white lion”, and the Church of the Holy Spirit in Zehra; Old town of Levoča with city fortifications, historical town hall (today Spiš Museum) and Church of St. Jacob with a late Gothic winged altar by Master Paul|
|Location:||Levoča and Spišské Podhradie, northwest of Košice|
|Appointment:||1993, extension 2009|
|Meaning:||in Eastern Europe one of the largest closed medieval ensembles with defensive and sacred buildings as well as an outstanding example of an almost completely preserved historic old town|
Levoča, Spišský hrad and associated cultural monuments: history Hide table
|1198||Creation of the Spiš Propstei and the settlement of Kirchdrauf (Spišské Podhradie)|
|1209||by King Andreas II donation of lands in the Spiš to Provost Adolf|
|1221||Reinforcement of the inner core of the castle|
|1249||oldest written communication about Spiš Castle in a deed of donation|
|1270||Construction of the keep|
|13th century||Start of construction of the two-tower Romanesque Propstei-Kollegiat-Kirche, the later St. Martin’s Cathedral|
|1370-80||Construction of the outer bailey|
|1478||Consecration of the Propstei Collegiate Church|
|01/15/1776||Foundation of the Spiš diocese|
|1888-89||Regotisation of the altars of the cathedral church|
|1950||Spiš chapter becomes a city monument|
|1969||Beginning of archaeological research on the castle hill|
|1989||Return of church property to the Catholic Church|
The crown of the Zips
In the 13th century, King Bela IV of Hungary called German settlers to the promised “land under the High Tatras”. They followed the tempting offer in droves, because the royal offer included privileges such as freedom from duties, taxes and religion. Spišský hrad (Spišský hrad), with its four-meter-thick walls and the residential tower, was badly damaged by a violent earthquake at that time.
The imposing location of the castle hill in a basin always aroused the covetousness of the mighty, as it was due to the important trade route from the Tisza plain through the Spiš to the Kingdom of Poland. People had already settled in this area in the fifth and fourth millennia BC. Excavations that began in 1969 uncovered traces of the early Stone Age: smooth stone axes and ceramics with incised lines. According to some archaeologists, the Celtic Kotini built a mighty fortified dwelling and an acropolis at the end of the second century BC on the castle hill on which the medieval castle is enthroned to this day. The building material for this plant was supplied by the neighboring Dreveník.
Even when the devastating Mongol storm swept across parts of Europe, the fortress resisted, albeit with luck: the castle had a crucial weak point that remained hidden from the opponents. The foreign intruders would only have had to cut the wooden pipes for the water transport and wait a few days to get the castle residents to lay down their weapons. Since there was no well inside the castle, instead of handing over the castle, they could only have faced death by dying of thirst!
Over the centuries the castle changed hands frequently, victories were celebrated and defeats suffered. “The love of lust and misery, loyalty to the king and treason, bravery and cowardice, princely splendor and dungeon woes with the pale bones of the prisoners – the medieval castle knows all of this (…)” can be read in a report from those days.
During the heyday of the 13th to 15th centuries, up to 2000 people lived on the Spis Castle; five courtyards had meanwhile been completed. Three centuries later, the castle experienced the anti-Habsburg uprisings, during which it was besieged several times. The castle owner at the time, Michael Csáky, had joined the rebels who had to surrender in 1710. After that, the strategic and military importance of the Spiš Castle waned. The family who lived in the castle at that time did not feel at home in the walls either and withdrew to their castles in Hodkovce and Bijacovce. A big fire did the rest to hasten the decay. Today the partially restored Spiš Fortress is considered to be the largest Central European castle complex, which can be climbed from the nearby town of Spišské Podhradie in an hour. The open landscape of the area is still being plowed; her face has changed little over the centuries.
The Spiš chapter on St. Mary’s Mountain is just a stone’s throw from Spiš Castle – a real area of tension: ecclesiastical and secular power face to face. For the immigrant Germans, the Spiš Chapter was a symbol of ecclesiastical independence. Robber rabble and looting soldiers made life difficult for the worshipers. It was over by the middle of the 17th century, because a fortified fortification protected the provost and its residents. The Romanesque-Gothic cathedral church of St. Martin rises high above the walls. With its wonderful late Gothic altars such as that of the Coronation of the Virgin Mary, who kneels and receives the crown from God the Father and Son, it is one of the most valuable church buildings in the Slovak Republic today.
Levoča and Master Paul
Levoča with its historic city center and city fortifications from the 14th / 15th centuries is only a few kilometers from the Spiš Castle. Century. On the market square, which is lined with numerous patrician houses, there is also the town hall (today Spiš Museum), which was rebuilt in the Renaissance style from 1555 to 1615. In the neighboring Gothic church of St. Jacob (1332–42, later expanded) is the 18.62 meter high, late Gothic winged altar by Master Paul.