Photo: Jerzy Opioła

Tarkő (Kamenica) is located in the Upper Lands/Horná zem/Felvidék, in Slovakia. It is 14 from Kisszeben to the northwest. The Hungarian Berzeviczy family built it in the 13th century to supervise the trade route between Kassa (Kosice, Kaschau) and Poland.
The second owner was the Tarkői family who was related to the previous owner. The Sztáray family has been the owner in the village since the beginning, too.

Photo: Jerzy Opioła

The castle was first mentioned as Thorkw in 1281. The Berzeviczy family was controlling ten villages from the castle in 1296.
The church of the village was built by Count of Szepes, Berzeviczi Rikolf in 1300. There were 41 tax-paying houses in the village in 1427.

Photo: Jozef Kotulic

Tarkői Fogas János became unfaithful to the king in 1436 so the king’s army laid a siege on the castle and chased him away. (Please note, I use the Oriental name order for Hungarians where family names come first.) According to the sources, Baron Tarcay Péter (aka Tarkői) was loyal to Queen Erzsébet in 1442 and he was loyal to her son, to King László V. as well.

Photo: Jerzy Opiola

Tarkő Castle was listed among the forts loyal to Queen Erzsébet, the employer of the Bohemian Hussite mercenaries. This is how the Hussites got control over the fort in 1444 and during the Hussite Wars, they burned its village in 1456. At this time, the castellan of the fort was Hototini György, the man of the Tarkői family.

Photo: Jozef Kotulic

King Matthias Corvinus sent his Treasurer, Szapolyai Imre to drive the Hussites out from the Upper Lands of Hungary in 1462. When Jan Giskra, the leader of the Hussites, became loyal to King Matthias, Tarkő Castle remained in the hands of the Tarkői family. Tarczay Tamás used to be a general of King Matthias, you can see his tombstone below, and read the following inscription on it:


There is a folk legend connected to this tombstone: allegedly, the two angels holding the cloak of Lord Tamás were his twin sons who had become the victims of their father’s terrible rage. The tombstone can be seen in the church of Héthárs ( Lipany, Siebenlinden).

The tombstone of Tharczay Tamás, general of King Matthias

There were 13 villages serving the castle at that time. The castle was reconstructed in Renaissance style during the first part of the 16th century. We know that Tarkői Miklós died in the Battle of Mohács in 1526. As King Ferdinand defeated King Szapolyai János again in 1528 near Kassa (Kosice, Kaschau), it is quite surprising how Tarkő Castle was able to remain on King Szapolyai’s side for a further 28 years.

picture: Castlelocker

The troops of the Holy Roman Empire besieged it in 1556 and after a week-long fight, they took it and promptly destroyed it. It is interesting to note that the defender of Tarkő Castle was a woman, Lady Tarkői (Tarczay) Anna, the wife of the powerful Lord Drugeth György. Anna was so desperate that she had the castle’s walls draped in black to show her determination. She was given safe conduct at the end of the siege, along with her men. She died in a nearby village, Orsóc, in huge poverty in 1567.

Lady Tarczay anna (Painting: Vizkelety Bela / 1861)

Ferdinand also took the two other castles of the Tarkői family, Pécsújfalu {Oltariszka?} and Újhely. King Habsburg Ferdinand gifted the ruins of Tarkő Castle and the village to the Tarczay and the Dessewffy families in 1558. We know of 31 houses in the village from 1600 which were on the Reformed faith by this time but the Catholics got the Gothic church back in 1672. It was the end of the castle. The extensive destruction of the castle is mainly due to a man called Tahy, a nobleman who had the stones carried away to build his distillery in 1816.

Photo: Milan Balisin

As far as we know, there have been no archeological excavations in 2003 yet. On the other hand, there are very promising signs that things are going to change: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-hSTpAwp8E

Photo: Jerzy Opiola

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Photo: Jerzy Opiola

Here are a few more pictures of Tarkő castle: