Likava (Likavka) was built on the top of a tall protruding cliff overlooking the valley of the Vág river. It is clearly visible from the road and it appears to be really huge. It guarded the road towards Poland and it is located in the Upper lands/Horná Zem/Felvidék, in Slovakia. The Ikavka Stream flows at the foot of the hill.
The Castle was built at the end of the 13th century by the Chief Comes of Liptó County, Master Dancs, the ancestor of the Balassa family. The Castle was a center of a huge domain as well. In the beginning, it was a royal castle, then King Róbert Károly gifted it to Master Dancs in 1312. The Castle was in the hands of Bebek, the infamous robber knight, at the end of the 14th century but King Zsigmond took Likava away by force in 1399. King Zsigmond gave Likava and the Chief Comes post of Liptó County to Palatine Gara Miklós. The Castle burned down in 1431 and it was rebuilt in 1440.
Likava fell into the hands of Jan Giskra`s Bohemian Hussites who placed the fearsome knight, Péter Komorowsky, there. It was King Matthias Corvinus, the second most famous member of the Hunyadi dynasty, who took it back again. The king liked to dwell in Likava because he took pleasure in hunting in the enormous forests around it.
King Matthias made his natural son, Corvin János, the Duke of Liptó, and gave him Likava Castle among other domains. He tried to make his son strong to inherit his throne, but it was in vain. After Matthias’ death, Likava was taken in 1496 by Palatine Szapolyai István, the father of the next king of Hungary. The curved coat of arms of the Hunyadi family was still clearly seen in the Castle during the 18th century.
The Dual Kingship was a time when the forces of King Szapolyai János and King Habsburg Ferdinand were fighting each other in the area. It was during this period that Habsburg’s General Katzianer burned Likava. The outer castle and its buildings were constructed in the 16th century. The Castle changed hands between the Thurzó, the Pekry, the Báthory, and the Illésházy families. It was Illésházy György who sold it to Thököly István in 1650.
The heyday of the Castle was during the twenty years these mighty upstarts, the Thököly family, owned it. Thököly Sebestyén was involved in the Wesselényi Conspiracy against the king so General Heister laid a siege on Likava and had it halfway ruined.
After 1670, taken by the Imperial Army, Likava Castle was used as a prison until 1707, the year of its demolition by orders of Prince Rákóczi Ferenc II. In our day, the Castle is being restored, and perhaps one day, the black raven holding a golden ring in its beak – the symbol of the Hunyadi dynasty – will return to the walls of Likava.
There is a legend connected to Likava, you can read it in my book “33 Castles, Battles, Legends”:
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