Slovakia is not necessarily the first European country that comes to mind when people think "castles," but it should be. The countryside is lined with ruins that date back as early as the 13th century. Visitors and locals alike seek out these castles. One such visitor is Tomáš Žáček, the creator of the Ecocapsule, a modern solution to travel accommodation. Žáček draws inspiration from his country’s history and longstanding architectural traditions. "There’s an atmosphere that comes from the walls of the old castles and their landscapes," he says. "These structures give me inspiration." Žáček visited four castles in one day during a tour of the countryside, and he would encourage visitors to Bratislava to mimic his trip. Before you go, take a peek inside.
The Plavecký Castle, originally built in the 13th century, was owned by Hungarian nobility until it was damaged during the anti-Habsburg uprisings and fell into disrepair. Neglected for centuries, it has aged and become one of the most stunning collections of ruins in western Slovakia, with rolling hills on one side and dense forest on the other.
The Cachtice Castle is still steeped in the dark history of Countess Elizabeth Báthory, otherwise known as "The Bloody Lady." She supposedly believed that the blood of young women would help preserve her youthful appearance. The countess was imprisoned in her own castle and died there in 1614. The Cachtice Castle was then abandoned in the early 1700s and has stood peacefully in the Carpathian Mountains on a hill ever since. "There are mystical forces here, definitely," Žáček says.
The Beckov Castle, built in 1208, is one of the oldest castles in what was once the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The structure is perched on a steep cliff above the Váh, the longest river in Slovakia. Visitors overlook the slopes of the White and Little Carpathians from the castle, as well as visit a historic gravesite beside the grounds.
The Sklabiňa Castle sits between the Turcianska dell and the Big Fatra Mountains, where it was built in the 1300s. From 1320 until the 18th century, the castle served as the seat of the county administration of Turiec. Over time, the castle was expanded and fortified, but tragically it burned down during World War II. Today, travelers can visit the castle and surrounding manor ruins on the hillside.