Krasznahorka and Betlér

Photo: Szeder László

The castle of Krasznahorka (Hrad Krásna Hôrka) is located in the Upper lands/Horná Zem/Felvidék. The castle is in Slovakia, its name means “Beautiful small hill” in the English language. As it used to be part of the Kingdom of Hungary, it was built in the 13th century by the Ákos brothers on a trade route leading from Transylvania through Kassa (Košice) to Szepesség (Spiš) and today’s Poland. Read more about the Szepesség here:

According to a legend, King Béla IV was fleeing that way from the Mongols in 1241.

The Ákos family (which later changed its name to Bebek) lived in Krasznahorka from the mid-13th century to 1566, apart from a short period when the Mariássy family seized control of the castle. One of our most admirable legends is about the poor shepherd called Bebek who found a great diamond in the hills. He gave it to the king and he asked seven hills in exchange for the precious stone where he wanted to build a fold for his sheep. Instead, the king gave him seven castles: Krasznahorka, Csetnek, Berzéte, Torna, Pelsőc, Szádvár and Sólyomkő.

Photo: Civertan

The greatest reconstruction of the castle was made by Bebek Imre and Ferenc who were infamous for their behavior. They had bronze cannons cast from the bells of the churches and as a result, Krasznahorka now can boast of the largest such exhibition of cannons. You can see there the huge cannon of Emperor Maximilian and the cannons which they had taken from the Turks.

The Catholic church was very much scandalized when heard what Bebek had done with the bells so Bebek reconciled with them by capturing a poor Protestant preacher called Fischer András who was thrown down from the castle’s walls. Lord Bebek Ferenc was also forging money in his secret silver mint.

Photo: Thaler Tamás

Interestingly enough, he turned against the Habsburg Emperor and fought against him in 1556 with some Ottoman Turkish auxiliary forces. The castle was unsuccessfully besieged by King Ferdinand I in 1556. After this, Bebek Ferenc began to protect the Lutherans from now on. No wonder he was called a traitor and was possibly murdered in 1558. His son, György, was eagerly supporting the anti-Protestantism. He used to be the Comes of Gömör County until his death, in 1567 which was the end of the Bebek family. General Schwendi Lázár could take the castle in 1566 and the king appointed Péter Andrássy as its captain.

More about this general:

Photo: Thaler Tamás

In 1578 the castle passed into the ownership of the Hungarian Andrássy Péter and remained in the possession of the Andrássy family up until 1918 (the year the First Czechoslovak Republic was founded).

Photo: Thaler Tamás

The Andrássy family built a Renaissance fort between 1578-1585 and the palace took its shape in 1676. Prince Thököly took it in 1678. Its garrison surrendered it only after a one-year siege in 1685. A few years ago the castle burned down because two children played with a lighter.

Now, you can see how nicely it is being rebuilt. The construction seems to have been completed by 2022.

Krasznahorka was made widely known and famous in Hungary by the great author Jókai Mór who was visiting the Andrássy family’s palace in Betlér which is near to the castle.

Betlér palace (Photo: CoserycantarUK)


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In Betlér (Photo: Dr. Korom János)

Here are more pictures of Krasznahorka, before and after the fire…: