Holics (Holíč, Holitsch or Weisskirchen) is in the Upper Lands/Horná Zem/Felvidék and it used to be protecting Hungary’s western border at the Morva River. Now it is in Slovakia, near to the Czech border. The Slovakian name derives from the surname “Holik” while the previous Hungarian name used to be Újvár. Its former German name is the translation of the Hungarian name for Fehéregyház.
Now the castle is remarkably intact and offers a nice view. The place had a “vízivár” (water-castle) with oblong walls, a castle that reached down to a river, before the Mongol invasion of 1241.
The settlement was developed around the first castle in the 11th century and it was first mentioned as “Wywar” (Újvár) in 1205.
King András II established a border crossing place there in 1228. Its “new castle” (in the Hungarian language it means “Újvár”) was built on the bank of the Morva River before 1256 as part of the Border County of Sasvár. The castle used to belong to the king but the great oligarch, Csák Máté seized it before 1299. He was leading many raids against the Czech king from the castle because he knew no lord over him.
Demeter, the son of Miklós from the Balassa clan, Comes of Zólyom and Pozsony County, was leading a siege against the castle on behalf of the king in 1299 but he failed to take the fort.
The Czech King John of Luxembourg was besieging Holics in 1314 but his supplies were delayed and the help of the Hungarian King Károly Róbert didn’t arrive in spite of his promise. The siege failed and they could take it only after the Czech king’s death, in 1321. The fort returned to the Kingdom of Hungary according to the Treaty of 1332 which closed the Czech-Hungarian-German war.
The king soon ordered the repair of the fort in a letter of 1335. The castellan of Holics was Lord Lackfi István, the Chief Stablemaster of the king in 1338. Its church was built in 1387 and it was devoted to St. Márton.
As for the castle, in the 14th century, it consisted of a great living tower and a deep moat around it. During the 14th century, the town has grown to be an important trading market between the Czech and the Hungarian kingdoms. King Zsigmond of Luxembourg, the Hungarian king, gave the castle to the Polish Stíbor family in 1389 to make them loyal to the throne.
At this time, the town’s lands extended as far as the Czech border on the North and to Szenice on the East, while the Morva River was the western boundary of this sizeable domain. The infamous Voivode Stíbor began his career among the Hungarian barons with this huge domain and called himself the “Lord of the Vág River”. The Stíbor family has indeed been a great supporter of King Zsigmond and the monarch made him the Voivode of Transylvania as well. Stíbor died in 1414 and was buried in the Cathedral of Székesfehérvár, next to the tombs of the Hungarian kings. His son was fighting against the Czech Hussites in Moravia, supported by the Chief Stablemaster Perényi Miklós, the Captain of the Vág Valley.
He did the same four years later as well but he was defeated in the Battle of Nagyszombat. He survived the defeat only with four years, died in 1434, and was buried in Buda, in the church now we call Matthias Church. His tombstone was the first one that was built in the Gothic style in Hungary. He died without heirs so all of his 11 castles returned to the king.
Shortly after this, Holics was given to the Schlik family whose members were its owners until 1480. Later, the great Czobor family got hold of the castle and its lands before 1494.
The castle was rebuilt in the 16th century and became a fortified palace. Its old- and new-Italian style bastions were born in that period, in answer to the challenges of the age developing artillery power.
The Révay and the Bakics families owned it during the 16th-17th centuries. Holics lay far from the frontier zone during the Ottoman wars so it has remained private property.
There is an interesting love story from the time when the Révay and the Bakics families owned the castle together. It dates back to the period of the Prince Bocskai-led Revolution in 1605 when the garrison of Révay Ferenc succeeded in defending the castle against the raiding Hajdú soldiers of the prince.
The army of Prince Bethlen Gábor was more successful in 1623. They were able to take Holics Castle, imposing great damage while doing so. The Transylvanian prince moved on from Holics and surrounded the Czech city of Hodonin where he was forcing General Montecuccoli to plead for peace.
As a result of the Second Treaty of Vienna in 1624, the western part of the Upper Lands of Hungary returned to the Habsburgs, so Holics had to be ceded, too. The place winded up in the Habsburgs’ hands in 1736 and they used it as their summer resort until 1919. Now, the buildings are being renovated from European funds.
Here is a short, silent aerial video of the huge castle: