Slovakia is a country known for its magical castles spread across the landscape. There are so many that it can be difficult to decide which ones to visit. Each one has its own feature that makes it memorable. In the case of Pajštún Castle, this feature is the stone lions. There are six carved lions still attached to the top of the castle with one hidden behind some overgrown bushes. The seventh, lays near the trail path. Seeing these beautiful stone structures will make visitors feel like they have traveled to the medieval past of Slovakia as they explore one of the country’s many historical ruins.
Hiking to Pajštún, a medieval castle ruin located outside of Bratislava in the Little Carpathians, is a great way to explore the outskirts of the city, learn some historical facts about the region, and spend the day in the outdoors. Pajštún is situated in the village of Borinka, which has several restaurants and a steep hiking trail that leads to the castle. Since this trail may be difficult for most hikers, the best place to begin the hike is by following the yellow hiking trail from the neighboring village of Stupava. This trail has a gradual incline, which makes it a good option for an enjoyable hike. To get to this trail from Bratislava, hikers can take a bus to the stop at the corner of Nová Ulica and Medzipotočná Ulica. It will take about an hour to get to the trail from the city. At the end of Medzipotočná, there is a small parking lot and the yellow trail head. The hike itself takes about an hour to an hour and a half depending on how fast the hikers are. The trail has many turns so make sure to look out for the yellow trail markers. For the last ten minutes of the hike, the trail becomes fairly steep. This difficult stretch will soon be forgotten because of how breathtaking the castle ruin is.
ARRIVING AT THE CASTLE
Once hikers have made it to the top, the castle walls will be towering high above. This is where the lions can be seen so make sure to look up. On the ground is the fallen lion. All of them have different smiling faces to congratulate hikers for making the journey up the winding slope. Hikers are able to walk around the exterior of the castle to get a better look at its structure, but the true beauty is from within. Next to the fallen lion is an original entrance gate to Pajštún. Hikers can take various paths within the castle walls to see the spectacular view. In the distance, hikers will notice the notorious Kamzík TV Tower in Bratislava set between the hills. Below is the village of Borinka. For those traveling to Bratislava, this is a great opportunity to see typical Slovak life outside of the city.
HISTORY OF PAJŠTÚN
Pajštún Castle was originally constructed in the 13th century and its early history is widely disputed. It has had several names including, Stupava Castle, Pelistan, and Peilenstein in German. In the 16th century, the ownership of the castle fell into the hands of the Pálffy family. The Pálffys are very well known in Slovakia since this family has owned many castles and mansions throughout the country. The Pálffy family reconstructed the castle and in the 17th century, Pajštún saw its golden age. Later in the 18th century, the castle was struck by lightning, which burned down part of the structure, but Pajštún endured. Its demise came when Napoleon’s Army occupied the castle in the early 19th century. Since France was at war with Austria-Hungary at the time, French soldiers decided to destroy Pajštún before leaving. Today, the castle remains in ruin.
REASONS TO VISIT PAJŠTÚN
The city of Bratislava has many historical buildings to visit, but Pajštún Castle offers a different perspective of Slovakia since it is located outside of the urban area. Hiking to the castle is free of charge and allows visitors to spend some time exploring Slovakia’s natural scenery. Visiting the castle is also a chance to see a medieval ruin dating to the 13th century. It is a great place to learn more about this time in Slovakia’s history since there are signs at the castle’s entrance explaining Pajštún’s importance. Whether a history buff or an outdoor explorer, Pajštún is the place to visit for those ready to have a new adventure!
Author & Photo Credits: Kathryn Baurhenn