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Devín Castle, Devin, Slovakia

November 12th, 2006 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

Devín Castle (Slovak: hrad Devín or Devínsky hrad, Hungarian: Dévény) is a castle in Devín, which is a part of Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia.

Thanks to its strategic position, the cliff (altitude of 212 meters) at the confluence of the Danube and Morava rivers was an ideal place for a fort. Its owner could control the important trade route along the Danube as well as one branch of the Amber Road. That is why the site has been settled since the Neolithic and fortified since the Bronze and Iron Age. Later, both the Celts and the Romans built strong fortresses there. In the Roman ruins, the first Christian church located North of Danube has been identified.

A Slavic castle, founded in the 8th century, played a crucial role during frequent wars between Great Moravia and the Franks. The claims that Devín or neighboring Bratislava was the center of Samo's Empire cannot be proven. The ancient name of the castle (Dowina - from the Slavic/Slovak word deva for girl) was mentioned for the first time in written resources in 864, when Louis the German besieged Prince Rastislav in the "castle of Dowina". During the Great Moravian period, a Christian church had been built in the complex. Its distinct style was probably inspired by similar churches in Byzantine Macedonia, from where Saints Cyril and Methodius came to Great Moravia. Chemical composition of frescoes indicates that the church was decorated by Italian painters.

In the 13th century, a stone medieval castle was built to protect the western frontier of the Hungarian Kingdom and a reference to "castelanus de Devin" appeared in 1320. A palace was added in the 15th century. Fortification was reinforced during wars against the Ottoman Empire. In 1809, the castle was destroyed by Napoleon I of France.

Since the 19th century, Devín has become an important national symbol for the Slovaks. The Hungarians regarded it as the western gateway of the Kingdom of Hungary. Its history even inspired several Romantic poets, followers of Ľudovít Štúr. The Hungarian poet Endre Ady used it as a symbol of modernism and Westernization in his poem "Góg and Magóg". Some parts of the castle have been reconstructed in the 20th century and the castle hosts an interesting museum.

[Source: Wikipedia]

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