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The oldest historical architectonic monument that is adornment of town of Levice, is stone castle from the end of the 13th century. No archive materials mention when it was built exactly. But we know that for its construction well protected area at the end of promontory of Štiavnica Mountains was chosen. Castle offered a great view of wide surroundings and swampy terrain made the acces more complicated. The first known owner of the Levice Castle was Matthew III Csák. The first written reference to its existence, where Jula from Topoľčianky is mentioned as castle manager and follower of Matthew Csák, comes from 1318. After his death in 1321 the castle became the royal property again. The king Charles Robert who stayed in castle from 21 to 29 August 1321 gave Levice Castle and dominion to his wife Elisabeth. Castle’s administration was assigned to Imrich Bechei, who became also district governor of Tekov.

Inhabitants from surrounding villages started to move under castle that was becoming stronger and thus in the 14th century villages of Nové and Veľké Levice, belonging to Levice Castle, were established. Another prove of its growing importance is that the king Louis I of Hungary called here so called palatine meetings in order to solve various problems.

In 1388 the king Sigismund of Luxemburg donated castle with its dominion to Ladislaus from Šarovce whose son Peter was using name Lévai of Levice, later Čech. He was a devoted follower of the king Sigismund. He held many functions at the royal court and he also participated in battle against the Hussites. Levice Castle was belonging to their dynasty for one and a half century. Last of them, John, died in 1553 without descendants and so the castle became a royal property again.

The report on fire, during which archive materials and privileged deeds were damaged, comes from 1434.

In the 16th century Levice Castle was scene of frequent battles against Turks. In 1543 the castle became one of the 15 anti-Turkish fortresses. Turks tried to conquer it for the first time in 1544 but the attack was repulsed. They were expelled from the town through gate (today in front of the mill), later named after Melichar Balassa that was in command of castle garrison at that time.

In 1560 the owner of castle and dominion was Stephen Dobó, the hero of Eger, who extended castle area by fortified Renaissance manor house. This spectacular building was terminated by his son Francis. After his death the owner was Sigfrid Kolonich (husband of Žofia, daughter of Francis Dobó) who gave a big part of his wealth on renovation of the castle and financing of castle garrison. He ran into debts so much that after his death there was no one to bury him and thus to take over his debts. His dead body wasn’t buried for years, it was committed only in 1638 on the orders of Ferdinand III in the crypt of St. Michael’s Church in Levice next to his wife.

Growing Turkish threat was the reason to renovate the castle. In 1635 it was renewed according to the Italian fortification system, moats were filled with water, artillery bastions and drawbridge were constructed. In the 1660s Turskish battles became stronger and the attacks did not spare nor Levice Castle and surrounding villages. On 2 November 1663 a vice-captain Gašpar Bartakovits gave castle without fighting to Turks. Čatra Patra Ali pasha became castle’s captain. Castle’s appearance in this period is described by Turkish traveller Evliya Çelebi: „Levice Castle is the building worth to be seen. Castle’s interior is small. Stone building of squared shape has six little towers around the perimeter. In the inside, there is captain’s house, armoury and granaries. There are no other buildings. It has a small gate facing east. Moat of the internal castle is filled with water from Hron to the edges and it is marshy“. Turks stayed in the castle for a little less than a year. Imperial armies under the command of general de Souches conquered town of Levice on 13 June 1664. Turks surrendered and left both town and castle according to signed agreement. Turks could hardly accept this loss and they dispatched the army in order to conquer the fortress. The decisive battle took place on 19 July 1664. Turks have been defeated in tough battles. Also the captain of Hungarian troops, Stephen Kohary, was killed in the battle. The last significant chapter in the history of this important military fortress were years of uprising of estates of Francis II Rákóczi against Habsburgs. Kuruc armies under the command of commander Ladislaus Ocskay occupied Levice Castle, considered by Rákóczi to be an important strategic place, on 17 September 1703. Military meeting with participation of Rákóczi was held in Levice Castle on 3 January 1704. In battles of uprising of estates victories of imperial troops and kuruc army were alternated. In November 1708 János Bottyán, who publicly went over to Rákóczi’s side, occupied Levice Castle again, at that time it was already in very bad condition. János Bottyán did not have enough people to build a new castle garrison so he commissioned castle’s demolition at the end of February 1709. They set the fortress on fire, they blew up storehouse with explosives, backfilled moats and castle well and thus the castle has lost its importance as military fortress. It has never been renewed again and its ruins talk only about past long time ago. Extant part of castle area, Dobó’s manor house and Captain’s building continued to be used by later owners of the Levice Castle and dominion. From 1688 to 1867 it was owned by Esterházys. Schoeller brothers, Viennese bankers, received this property from them. Their family owned Levice Castle and castle dominion until the end of World War II.

From 1958 the castle area is the seat of Tekov Museum in Levice, having its permanent expositions in Captain’s building.

The castle area is accessible to public and there is also Tekov Museum.

Text source: Mgr. Margaréta Nováková


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