Szomolány (Slovak: Smolenice, German: Smolenitz) is a village in the district of Nagyszombat, in the region of Nagyszombat, in Slovakia. The area around Szomolány was already inhabited during the so-called Halstat culture, and in the Iron Age, there was a Scythian fortress in the vicinity. The first mention of the settlement of Szomolány dates back to 1256 in the form of “Villa Solmus”.
In 1330 it was mentioned as Sumulya village. In 1388 it was still part of the nearby castle of Korlátkő, when Zsigmond of Luxembourg donated it to Stiborici Stibor, cutting it out of the property of the castle “quarum possessionum et villarum nostrarum predictarum Regalium tres, scilicet Dyos, Somolya et Zentwytt vocate, alias ad Castrum nostrum Korlatkw nuncupatum spectarunt, et una scilicet Barkow ad Castrum nostrum Ckehte pertinuit, de eisdem castris excidentesjsequestrantes et separantes. “At that time, the castle on the hill above the village did not yet exist.
After the death of Stibor the Younger in 1431, the right of ownership returned to the king, who gave the estate to Szentgyörgyi and Bazini Miklós. On 23.07.1438 King Albert confirmed Count Bazini György of Visegrád the ownership of the royal “villa of Zomolya”. In this document, it is written that it belonged to Kotlátkő (the castle did not exist at that time). An interesting feature of the document is that in addition to the Hungarian name, the German name – Lewstorff is also mentioned.
The captain distinguished himself in various wars, in the siege of Galambóc and in the Hussite wars in Bohemia and Moravia. However, there is another document from 1438, in which the Pozsony Chapter reports that Guthi, by order of King Albert, enrolled Ország Mihály and his brother János in the possession of the Pozsony County market town of Modor and the associated villages of “Nemethdyos, Zomolya and Ikran”.
In 1440 the owner of the estate was Guthi Országh Mihály, the chief treasurer, who bought from the Archbishop of Esztergom and his powerful family all the wine and grain tithes of his estates inPozsony County, Modor, Dyos [Diós], Zomolian [Szomolány] and Ikran [Ikrány] for 150 gold forints. The castle is not mentioned in this document either. In 1453 Szomolány (‘Zomolya’) is mentioned as the property of Országh Mihály in the charter of the castle of Éleskő.
In 1455, Országh Mihály pledged a piece of land in the settlement to Korlátkövi Osvát the Elder, who introduced himself. The first written record of the castle dates back to 1457, but after Korlátkövi’s death, the nobleman reclaimed the pledge, which was protested by Osvát’s widow and children in 1458. According to the document, the land was the upper half of the settlement and was pledged to Osvát for 272 forints.
Apparently because of the non-payment of the pledge, Osvát the Younger and his sister Veronika (the wife of Apponyi György) tried to register a lien on half of Szomolány in 1489. This registration was ordered on 12.06.1489 by the county judge Báthori István. However, the local castellan sounded the alarm with the bells and chased away the processors together with the assembled serfs. Ocskai Ferenc and Szendi Péter were the castellans at that time.
Korlátkövi Erzsébet, together with her husband Nyári Ferenc, resided in the castle between 1540 and 1545, after the manor had been pledged to her several times in 1539 and 1540 by Tallóci Bánfi Boldizsár, who had acquired it from the Ország family in 1529/1530 with confiscation and then received a donation from King Ferdinand. Országh Kristóf was mentioned in a document from 1556 and Szomolány was described as an oppidum, a market town.
After the death of Országh Kristóf in 1567, his widow Zrínyi Ilona and her daughter Országh Magdolna claimed the estate, but the Chamber refused to give it to them and they lost the lawsuit. On 23.04.1569 King Maximilian pledged it to Ungnad Kristóf and his wife Losonczy Anna. Bánffy Miklós, the son of Országh Magdolna, appealed against this but without success. In 1583 Emperor Rudolph donated it to them in perpetuity for 30,000 forints. In 1584 Ungnád became the owner of the castle, which was opposed by several people (Nyáry Sára, Balassa István, Petőfalvi Pethő Imre).
After the death of Ungnád in 1589, it passed to Ungnád Anna, daughter of Szomolány, and her husband Erdődy Tamás, the Croatian Ban (duke). According to an investigation report from 1606, the Hajdu troops [Bocskai’s Hajdus] occupied Szomolány’s castle and stole 6,000 ft of property. Sometime after 1606, Erdődy Tamás bequeathed the Szomolány estate to his second son Kristóf. According to a document, Erdődy Kristóf took over the castles of Szomolány and Jókő in damaged condition and spent a lot of money to repair them.
According to a document of the Esztergom Chapter from 1623, Erdődy Kristóf did not own the castle alone, but together with his three sisters. After Kristóf’s death in 1621, his share was inherited by his children and his widow, so the castle changed hands several times. In later years, parts of the castle were often mortgaged. The Erdődy family were the owners throughout the 17th century.
In 1683 Prince Thököly Imre occupied Nagyszombat and declared the Jesuits he found in the town prisoners. Count Erdődy György, Czobor Ádám, Drugeth Zsigmond, Nádasdy István, and Bercsényi Miklós, who had given bail for the Jesuits, were transported to Erdődy’s castle in Szomolány on August 10.
Erdődy György, the administrator of tChief Comes, in a letter from Szomolány, set the date of May 25, 1694, for the inauguration of the young prince Rákóczi Ferenc II as Chief Comes and invited the lords and nobles of the county to Eperjes. At the beginning of the 1700’s the manor was registered, and the Erdődy and Czobor estates were registered separately. The settlements were mentioned as follows: Szomolány arx et oppidum, Felső Dióss oppidum, Igram, Losoncz [village! and not a market town or oppidum in Nógrád County] Natács, Felső Dombó, Oszuszka [Pozsony and Nyitra Counties.]
In December 1703, after the outbreak of the Rákóczi War of Independence, the Kuruc troops occupied Sempte, Nagyszombat, Szakolca, Szentgyörgy, and Bazin one by one. On December 9, the nobility of the county, who had retreated to Csejte, surrendered the castle to Rákóczi.
At that time, the imperialists held only Pozsony, Kassa, Eperjes, Nyitra and Trencsén as well as the fortresses of Lipótvár, Érsekújvár, Detrekő, Borostyánkő, Vöröskő, Szomolány, Likava, Árva and Bajmóc. However, in April 1704, during the imperial counterattack, Pálffy and Heister retook the towns and castles from Szentgyörgy to Nagyszombat.
On May 26, 1704, Imperial General Ritschan set out from Szakolca with regular troops (2,331 infantry, 250 cavalry, 4 cannons, 70 wagons with food and equipment) in the direction of the Little Carpathians to cross the Szomolány Pass and join Pálffy’s forces near Modor. Bercsényi knew about the imperial troops’ war plan from an intercepted letter.
He ordered Ocskai to let the imperialists cross the strait but to occupy the area around the road with the Slovak rebels. Ritschan reached Szomolány via Jablonca at night. Here, after a day’s camp, the imperial troops marched back to Szakolca at 11 o’clock at night.
On May 28, Ocskai and the Slovak rebels attacked the imperialists in the woods around Nádasd, while Károlyi’s 2,000 horsemen charged the rear of the column. In the ensuing battle, the steadily advancing Kuruc troops overwhelmed the imperialists, some of whose units, with the wounded Ritschan, approached Jabloca and surrendered after being completely surrounded.
This was the first great success of the Kuruc against regular armies. It was probably at this time that the castle of Szomolány fell into the hands of the Kuruc troops. After this victory, the Kuruc rebels held the territory as far as Pozsony.
After the battle of Nagyszombat (Dec. 26, 1704) the victorious Heister retreated with his troops to Nagyszombat, Modor, and Szentgyörgy. On January 2, Bottyán János arrived with 2,400 horsemen under Szomolány and reinforced his guard with a troop of Hajdu from the regiment of Turóczy Gáspár. Then he marched to Szakolca and blocked the passage of the Little Carpathians. Heister sent 1,400 horsemen from Nagyszombat to Bottyán, but they got stuck in the blocked passage, on January 6 they could make only the Kuruc guard of Szomolány surrender.
On July 10, 1705, Captain Castelli was forced to surrender the castle to the Kuruc because of the lack of water. The besieged left the castle with their weapons and marched to Pozsony with a Kuruc escort.
In the second half of June 1707, the imperial general Starhembert stormed and occupied Szomolány from his camp in Majtény. Then he occupied Szakolca and Sasvár, then he stormed the castles of Éleskő, Korlátkő, and Detrekő. In 1708 it was again in the hands of Kuruc, Thúróczy Gáspár informed Bercsényi about Heister’s military movements from his camp below the castle. After the defeat at Trencsén, the Kuruc were expelled from the area. Szomolány was also returned to the Erdődy family.
Erdődy György died in the castle of Szomolány on December 27, 1712, and the various branches of his family inherited his part of the estate. The settlement is mentioned in the census of 1715 as Szomolan and in 1720 as Szomolyany. In 1744 the daughter branch of the heir Czobor of Jőkő and Szomolány was bought by the Erdődy family. In 1759 Erdődy Kristóf was the sole owner of Szomolány. At that time he had so many debts on the estate that he was forced to hand it over to his Genoese creditors.
A description of the castle is known from 1760. According to it, it had an irregular rectangular plan with round bastions at the corners. The castle had 3 small courtyards, and the palace was built next to the donjon (watchtower) that stood on the western corner. This part of the castle was built on a high and steep cliff. There was also the chapel of the castle. The palace had three floors and the Donjon four. The fourth floor was used for storing gunpowder, and the others for storing grain. The third floor of the palace was in bad condition and was not used.
On June 22, 1777, Count Pálffy János, having paid the creditors of Erdődy Kristóf in Genoa, or their agent Brentano Cimarolti Alajos, the sum of 298086 forints and 15 denars for Szomolány manor, which included the villages of Szomolány, Felső-Diós, Jászlócz, Pagyerócz, Felső-Dombó, Nahács, Losoncz and Igráin. The castle burnt down in 1809 and was never repaired. A picture of the castle painted in 1827 shows only its ruins. In 1864 the lieutenant general Pálffy Mór paid off the pledge and took over the manor.
Könyöki József surveyed the castle in 1882. He examined the ruins of the castle in its original form. At that time only the walls of the old tower remained, its shape was pentagonal. He notes that the castle also had a fishpond. His comment on the population is also interesting:
“As far as our country is concerned, I would also point out that at Jókő, Nagy-Sáros, Murány, Szomolány, Berencs, Keselleőkeő, Hrussó, and other castles, but especially where the entrance had to be defended, I found the foundations of gate towers; but as these are the nearest to the village, they were the first to be destroyed, providing building material.”
Count Pálffy József is credited with the construction of the present neo-Gothic castle on the site of the ruins of the medieval castle. The castle was designed by Alpár Ignác in 1899. Its reconstruction was started in the early 20th century under the supervision of the manor engineer, but the walls, which were built on bare rock, slipped and cracked and had to be demolished. A postcard from 1911 shows the state of construction at that time: only the towers were renovated and covered with a roof. Construction was interrupted by the outbreak of World War I.
After the Treaty of Trianon, Szomolány was annexed to the newly formed Czechoslovakia. In 1925, according to a travel report, the castle was still under construction. The castle underwent no significant changes until the end of the Second World War. At that time the former Pálffy estates were nationalized. The castle was rebuilt by the Czechoslovakian state between 1949 and 1957 and received its present form.
Today it is the congress center of the Slovak Academy of Sciences. Visits are possible only in July and August, and then only with a guide (2021). During the other months of the year, you can only visit the outside.
Source: Várlexikon http://www.varlexikon.hu
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Here are more pictures of Szomolány castle: