Krásna Hôrka Castle

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The picturesque Gemer landscape in the heart of Slovakia has long been considered a small Europe or a small kingdom of Hungary. Its hills, valleys and towns have become the scene of our - European history. During the Second World War, but especially after it, the difficult hand of fate and the coming period reached our Slovak cultural and historical heritage. Even the "eternal" foundations of the socialist regime, already built on the existing walls of a rich culture, did not absorb and destroy everything that our ancestors left us.

Krásna Hôrka Castle

The picturesque Gemer landscape in the heart of Slovakia has long been considered a small Europe or a small kingdom of Hungary. Its hills, valleys and towns have become the scene of our - European history. During the Second World War, but especially after it, the difficult hand of fate and the coming period reached our Slovak cultural and historical heritage. Even the "eternal" foundations of the socialist regime, already built on the existing walls of a rich culture, did not absorb and destroy everything that our ancestors left us.

The medieval seat of the Andrássy family

The picturesque Gemer country in the heart of Slovakia has long been considered a small Europe or a small kingdom of Hungary. Its hills, valleys and towns have become the scene of our - European history. During the Second World War, but especially after it, the difficult hand of fate and the coming period reached our Slovak cultural and historical heritage. Even the "eternal" foundations of the socialist regime, already built on the existing walls of a rich culture, did not absorb and destroy everything our ancestors left us. Nevertheless, today we can enjoy only a few almost completely preserved castles, one of which is Krásna Hôrka. The unique collections of the castle museum and the changes in architecture attract visitors from almost all over the world. Join us on a journey of learning about our history and artistic and historical heritage through the medieval Andrássy family castle.

Source: Hrad Krásna Hôrka (12.2.2022)

Krásna Hôrka during the Middle Ages during the "rule" of the Bebek family

The history of the area, which has been ruled by Krásna Hôrka Castle for centuries, dates back to the early Middle Ages. The famous period of the Miškovec family, its last male descendant of the comesa of the Gemer castle Borš, ends in the first half of the 13th century. One of the legends associated with this region says that King Béla IV fled from the Tatars here. Brothers Filip and Detrich (Detre) Szár from the Ákošov family allegedly helped him in the escape. In 1243, the king rewarded them for their loyalty with extensive territories in the administration of Gemer Castle. Krásna Hôrka is not yet mentioned among the donated villages. The property of the Ákošov family was uniform until the last decade of the 13th century, then they began to sell it off. Brzotín was acquired by the Máriássy family (as evidenced by the Baroque mansion with the coat of arms of the Máriássy family in Brzotín, which has been preserved to this day) and later around 1318, Krásna Hôrka was sold to the Batiz family. We consider them, together with the Máriássy family, to be the first builders of the castle. Of course, it is not possible to speak of a castle in today's sense of the word, because it was only a fortified Gothic residential tower (donjon) at the very top of a limestone mound. Over time, the designation of the Ákošov family as Bebek family has become established. They almost found that the property they sold had a much higher value, mainly due to the mineral wealth in the area. Thus, they began a decade-long dispute with the Máriássy family over the return of Krásná Hôrka. Documentary material mentions it only briefly, but it is first mentioned as a castle in 1333. The Bebek family finally regained their heroically acquired manor in 1352. One of our most beautiful legends speaks of Bebek, but not as a rich landowner, but as a poor shepherd who found a great precious stone. He gave it to the king and asked for the seven hills on which he wanted to build a mountain hut. However, he built seven castles: Krásna Hôrka, Štítnik, Brzotín, Turňa, Plešivec, Sádec and Sólyomkő. Among them, Krásna Hôrka stands out for its location, preservation and history. The Bebek family, who rebuilt and expanded the castle several times (they also had a palace built next to the Gothic tower), were its masters until the second half of the 16th century. The most significant reconstruction took place behind the legends of the brutal cruel František Bebek. The modernization and construction of a new fortification system required the danger of Turkish raids. The construction industry in Krásná Hôrka thus intensified in the 1640s. At that time, the castle received a new wreath fortification with an irregular triangle floor plan and three massive corner bastions. Research Ing. Dobroslava Menclová in the early 1950s pointed to the connection with the fortifications of Jáger Castle (Eger, Hungary) and its Italian designer Alessandro da Vedan. However, it has not yet been proven whether this important Renaissance architect also worked directly at the Bekbek residence.

Shortly after the extensive reconstruction of the castle, legends about the cruelty and two-faced politics of the castle lord František Bebek and his brother Gemer, the mayor of Gemer, are associated with the period. In the literature, they are referred to as "robber knights" who dropped bells from church towers and cast cannons from them. Krásna Hôrka (or the Betliar Museum under whose administration the castle is) can boast the largest collection of original bronze works in Slovakia. Visitors to the castle have the opportunity to see not only Bebek cannons from 1547 (two Bebek cannons were transported in the 19th century to the Andrássy manor park in Betliar, where they are to this day), but also captured Turkish cannons and the beautiful massive cannon of Emperor Maximilian in front of the castle gate. The Catholic Church at the time, threatened by the Reformation movement, accepted such an outrage with outrage. But Bebek found a way to get her back on his side. Around 1540 (1539 or 1542), the Protestant preacher Ondrej Fischer, who had previously worked in Levoča, Moravia and Smolník, appeared in nearby Rožňava. František Bebek had him captured and then executed; he had him thrown from the highest bastion of his castle.

One of the rooms in the so-called in the upper or old castle documents the existence of the secret mint of František Bebek. He coined the counterfeit coins together with the castle captain of the Murano castle with Matej Baš, who, however, was executed for this money laundering activity - Bebek himself allegedly took care of its quick removal.

Source: Hrad Krásna Hôrka (12.2.2022)

As late as September 1556, he fought against the emperor with the help of Turkish troops, and with an incredible turn he became an advocate of the Evangelicals! We are not surprised because he was declared a traitor, deprived of all titles and functions, and in 1558 he was probably murdered. The fate of the Bebek family is very unclear after these events. We also mention his son František, Juraj, who, unlike his father, became an ardent supporter of the Counter-Reformation. He even became a Gemer robe, but he probably never managed to get rid of his father's bad reputation. He died without descendants in 1567. Juraj died this important, but little known and unexplored family, which significantly affected the medieval history not only of Gemer, but of the whole Kingdom of Hungary.

Source: Hrad Krásna Hôrka (12.2.2022)

Four centuries of "rule" by the Andrássy family

The castle came under the administration of the imperial court, which administered the Krasnohorské estate through the castle captains. Seven of them took turns in eight years! One of the last was Peter I. Andrássy, the first Andrássy on Krásná Hôrka and in Gemeri in general. It marks the beginning of an almost four-year period in the history of the castle, Gemer County and, with a hint of exaggeration, in the history of Central Europe, closely connected with the influential Andrássa family.

The character of the Bekbek fortress did not change significantly under the Andrássy family. It was determined by the terrain - the castle stands on a hill, which prevents further expansion of the fortifications and also did not need to modernize the castle in terms of fortification - the importance of the castle (non-strategic position in the following centuries) and the political situation did not require it. The new owners initially spent money on repairing the existing buildings of the castle complex and only later in the 17th century on the construction of new ones. However, the castle did not belong to the Andrássy family, they still only had the status of hereditary castle captains. Peter I was already trying to get the castle estate into personal ownership, but he could not break the court's distrust, despite the fact that he was a supporter of Gašpar Békessy (an ally of the Habsburgs against Štefan Báthory). It was not until 1642 that Matej II, the grandson of Peter I, acquired the Krásnohorské estate as a hereditary property from King Ferdinand III. The wife of Matej II. became Anna Monokyová, by which the Andrássy family acquired not only the Monocky but also the

In the 17th century, the castle was enriched with other buildings - "palaces" in the spirit of late Renaissance aristocratic residences. This is the so-called the lower castle with stucco decoration of the vaults in the rooms and the middle castle, which probably served mainly for representational purposes. A small intimate courtyard was created between the old Bebek and the new Renaissance palace, where stone rafters supporting a gallery with a wrought iron grille are still preserved in the middle castle. The construction industry in the 17th century is linked to the figure of Nicholas I, who became the mayor of the Gemer Committee and the royal adviser. In 1676, Emperor Leopold I even promoted him to baronial status for the heroism proved in the battles against the Turks. During his era, the castle became the seat of the county, which also explains the construction of new representative and residential premises. This period presents several exhibits in the castle exhibition: one of the most beautiful is the Renaissance tiled stove with blue and white glaze, which is probably the work of mountaineering masters; then there are several pieces of furniture from the 16th - 17th century and of course the most numerous group are cold steel firearms and castle garrison.

Source: Hrad Krásna Hôrka (12.2.2022)

In 1883, the Andrássy family welcomed a distinguished guest, the important romantic writer Mór Jókai, who was collecting material for his new historical novel, in his Bethlehem residence. The work, which made not only Krásná Hôrka famous, but also Levoča and many historical figures in Hungarian history, has been published in countless editions and translations. The main characters of the novel Levočská biela pani are, in addition to the white mistress Julianna Korponyová, the Andrássy family, and Krásna Hôrka is one of the main events of the story of love and hate, betrayal and loyalty. The plot of the novel is set in the period of the last uprising of František Rákoczi II., In which the brothers Štefan I. and Mikuláš II, nicknamed "dervish general", also took part. In his book, Jókai created a legend that still lives among the old castle walls, which attracts "pilgrims" to the glass sarcophagus of the former castle mistress Krásná Hôrka Žofia Serédyová, wife of Štefan I. Žofia died at the beginning of the 18th century and was buried in the church tomb. in the village below the castle. There, limestone water dripped on her and a dry breeze dried her, causing her body to remain almost intact. It has been in the Krásná Hôrka chapel since the beginning of the 19th century, where it was commissioned by the Andrássy family. Interestingly, she has her right hand raised - she probably had a Bible under it, but it fell apart. This very prosaic explanation refutes Jókai's legend that by raising his hand - squeezing his son's heart, she wanted to prevent paternal murder. In an article by Professor Jozef Novák from the 1960s, we read (and at the same time realize) the striking resemblance of a dead woman to the portrait of Countess Theresa Dőry's wife, Stephen III, on the pages of the Homeland Studies magazine. Andrássy, who lived two generations later than Seredys. So is the legend of the benevolent Zofia and her "miraculous" preserved body completely fabricated? Basically, it doesn't matter at all who actually lies in the glass sarcophagus in the chapel of Krásná Hôrka, and it doesn't detract from the significance and romance of Jókai's novel. I even dare to say that if we overlook the doubts about the mummy of the Krasnohorská, we will not harm history, but we will pay homage to one glorious epoch in the history of the Andrássy family and the whole of Hungary.

However, let us return to the historical facts at the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries, when the family property was divided between the brothers of Stephen I and George II. Štefan moved to Betliar and thus a Betliar (or older) branch of the family was formed and Juraj remained in Krásná Hôrka and is considered the founder of the so-called Monocian (or longer and younger) branch.

In the 70s of the 18th century, the last reconstruction of the castle took place, which can be described as historical. The massive southeastern bastion called Dobogó was rebuilt into a chapel. The reconstruction was ordered by Stephen III, who was promoted to the count's status in 1766. His brother Anton, who was ordained Bishop of Rožňava in 1780, probably had credit for his decision. The beautiful chapel stands on the border of Baroque and Classicism. It is a single-nave space that flows smoothly into the sanctuary with a semicircular closure. The altar table placed on three steps is decorated with the coat of arms of the Andrássy family and classicist festivals. The retabulum itself consists of a symmetrical architectural composition of fluted columns with Ionic capitals and two individual statues of adoring angels on pedestals. The older baroque large lambrekine canopy with a cascading drapery, which is held by two flying angels, probably attracts attention above the tabernacle. The canopy and the figures of angels are probably the work of Jozef Gode, a pupil of Raphael Donner, who at that time also received several orders in Rožňava. In the middle of the canopy there is an altarpiece of the Black Madonna of Montenegro, the patron saint of the Andrássy family. According to the literature, this icon (so-called eleuza) dates from 1739. However, we do not know where it came from and why it actually became the patron saint of the family. The vaults of the chapel are covered with Baroque frescoes, which were, however, heavily painted in the 19th century. In the 19th century, the western part of the chapel was modified - the emporium was rebuilt, under which three high arcades and the entrance to the tomb were built. During this period, Renaissance epitaphs of the first Andrássy family in Krásná Hôrka - Peter I and his son Ján - were also set in the walls of the chapel.

Source: Hrad Krásna Hôrka (12.2.2022)

However, over time, the old fortress no longer provided sufficient comfort for its owners, and therefore the widow of Stephen III. Countess Mária Andrássyová-Festetichová decided to leave Krásná Hôrka at the beginning of the 19th century. The Andrássy family owned several manors and manors in Hungary and Austria. Not far from Krásná Hôrka in the village of Dlhá Lúka, they had a classicist manor house built at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, which they probably inhabited after they moved out of the family castle. The castle burned down in 1817 after a lightning strike, and the then owner of the castle considered it important to have this symbol of the family repaired. Of course, these were only the most necessary repairs - she had the old castle roofed, otherwise it was in ruins until the 1960s. Maria Festetichova and Stefan III. St. was born. Juraj IV., Who became one of the leading figures in the economic and cultural life of Hungary. He was a peer and friend of Count István Széchenyi, with whom he contributed to the development of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the Hungarian National Museum. In the first half of the 19th century, they both set out on a study tour of England, and in 1851 Count Juarj IV. presented the products of his ironworks in Drnava near Krásná Hôrka at the world exhibition in London in the so-called Crystal Palace. Shortly before that, the Drnava ironworks received a major order for the construction of the famous Chain Bridge (Széchenyi Lánchíd) in Budapest. Part of the construction of this important place located in the courtyard of the castle recalls the time of the industrial boom of the region.

Already Juraj IV. was inclined to the idea of establishing a family museum, for which Krásna Hôrka was the most ideal space. From newspaper reports from 1857 we learn about the existence of a small castle museum, which means that Krásna Hôrka is one of the oldest museums in Slovakia (Orava Castle became a museum only in 1868 and the Bratislava City Museum was established in the same year). We do not know how the castle was open to the public, but we do know that on August 19, 1867, the first official tour of its historic rooms and collections took place. A memorial stone plaque above the third gate reminds us of her.

At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, the son of Count Juraj IV. and Countess Franziska Königsegg von Aulendorf Count Dionysus castle restored. The reconstruction took place on the basis of projects by the Budapest architect Győző Czigler and under the direction of the Munich builder Eduard Schmucker. During this reconstruction, a new spacious family tomb was built on the ground floor of the middle castle with associated neo-Romanesque windows. The restoration also involved a small funeral chapel under today's cannon terrace, which was built by Juraj IV. to his mother in 1828, as evidenced by a large iron plaque with the inscription CINERIBUS OPTIMAE MATRIS MDCCCXXVIII (Best Mother 1828). The rooms above the passage of the third gate were also renovated, where Count Dionýz Andrássy set up a reverential museum for his beloved wife Františka, born Hablawetz. The lives of the generous Dionysus and the benevolent Francis are shrouded in mystery, they lived abroad and had no children. Dionýz Andrássy was the last male descendant of the Andrássy branch.

Even during Dionysus' lifetime, an agreement was reached between Gejz, Alexander and Július Andrássy that they would take care of the castle together as a symbol of their family. However, one of the most important European aristocratic families had to leave our country due to the unfortunate events of August 1944. The castle and the whole estate were nationalized in 1945 by Beneš decrees, in 1948 the National Cultural Commission declared it a state cultural property, 13 years later it was included among national cultural monuments and since 1996 it has been under the administration of the Slovak National Museum as a part of the Betliar Museum.

Source: Hrad Krásna Hôrka (12.2.2022)

What we can see at the castle

As we indicated in the introduction, Krásna Hôrka is one of the few profane monuments in Slovakia that did not succumb to war and post-war plunder. The basis of the collection consists mainly of weapons that were exhibited here in the 19th century. Today, contemporary photographs of furnished castle interiors from the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries documenting the appearance of the old exhibition are extremely valuable to us.

The tour of the castle begins in the lower castle, where the original castle kitchen with an interesting image of the Eye of God, which was supposed to prevent theft in the spirit of the principle of the Eye of God, sees everything. basset horns exhibited in a small music lounge. They are the work of the Bratislava native Theodor Lotz, a court toolmaker. There are 8 such "corners" in the world and there are three on Krásná Hôrka!

The tour of the lower castle is followed by a tour of the upper castle and the north-western bastion, where the remarkable burial carriage of Countess Františka, wife of Dionýz Andrássy, is on display. The coach is Art Nouveau and is the work of the Munich master Karel Weinberger from 1904.

The tour continues in the old Bebek buildings and in the Gothic tower, where weapons and armor from the 16th and 17th centuries are concentrated. The exposition of the Gothic palace documents the 16th - 17th centuries, ie the period of Turkish rule in Hungary. In the small room of the palace there is an extremely rare Renaissance armchair from 1450, originating in Rimini from the estate of Sigismund Malatesta.

From the Gothic palace, we move along the connecting corridor to the so-called Rákoczi tract (middle castle). Rare collections of historical furniture await us here, mostly from the 18th and 19th centuries. However, a very valuable early Baroque cabinet from the beginning of the 18th century stands out among the furniture collections, which legend claims to be a wedding gift by František Rákoczi to Žofia Serédyová. The portraits of members of the family as well as genre paintings add color to this relatively modest interior. There are works by Sigismund Vajda, Andor Boruth, Stefan Dorfmeister, Carl von Sales, Francesca Nocile. Oswald, the patron of the weather from the Italian Renaissance master Jacopo Barbari from 1500. The oil painting of the Levoča classicist painter Jozef Czauzik from 1823 also deserves attention, not even for its artistic qualities but rather for the curiosity of the captured theme. The painting entitled "A Rare Example of a Long Life in Hungary" captures Ján Rovin and his wife Sara. We learn from the Hungarian text under the figures of the elders that Ján lived for 172 years, his wife 164 and they lived together in a happy happy marriage for 147 years!

Other rooms document the life of Countess Františka - we are in a reverential museum set up here by her husband Dionysus a year after her death in 1903. Here he gathered all the objects that her hand touched and on which the sight rested. Here, too, we can find rare works of applied art from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, the countess's dress, her fashion accessories and the bed on which she died on October 26, 1902 in Munich.

Through a small courtyard we get to the ground floor of the middle castle, which Dionysus had transformed into a family crypt. 16 members of the family are buried here. The last burial took place here in 1991, when the remains of Countess Ilona Andrássy (1917 - 1990) from the Bethlehem branch, who lived in exile in Budapest, were placed here for eternal rest. In the tomb there are two remarkable ancient Roman sarcophagi from the 2nd century AD. One is decorated with putt figures, among which there is an inscription, in which is buried Charles IV, who died 22 years old in 1910. The other, empty is without decoration and text. The 19th century also left monuments in the crypt in the form of beautiful epitaphs and sarcophagi. It is not without interest a massive marble relief by the important sculptor Juraj Zala, which was intended for the tomb of Count Július Andrássy st. As Count Prime Minister of Hungary and Palatine of Hungary, the Count crowned Emperor Francis Joseph I as King of Hungary, his wife Elizabeth, called Sissi as Queen of Hungary. He later became Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. However, Július Andrássy is buried on his estate in Trebišov.

The tour of the castle ends in the chapel, where the body of Žofia Seréda is exhibited. On the north and south walls of the chapel there are two large, richly decorated and polychrome funeral shields - the mortuary of the Andrássy family and the Pálffy family.

In order to be able to create a comprehensive picture of the history and vast legacy of the Andrássy family, it is almost necessary to visit the gallery and mausoleum in Krásnohorský Podhradí as well as the manor house and the extensive English park in Betliar.

Source: Hrad Krásna Hôrka (12.2.2022)

Additional information

Transport: By foot, By bike, By car, By bus
Parking: Free parking nearby

Accepted payments: Cash
Languages: Slovak

Suitable for: Childrens, Families with childrens, Elderly, Young, Adults
Season: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter
Updated on: 12.2.2022

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Krásna Hôrka Castle
Hrad Krásna Hôrka
049 41  Krásnohorské Podhradie
Region: Košický
District: Rožňava
Area: Gemer
 48.65833, 20.600298

Hrad Krásna Hôrka
049 41  Krásnohorské Podhradie

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