Tornai vár (Photo: Civertan)

Torna vára aka Tornai vár (Turniansky hrad) can be found in Slovakia, next to the small town of Torna. It is just four kilometers away from the Hungarian border. The castle is situated on a hilltop and it had likely been built on a former earthen castle. After the Mongol invasion of 1241-42, the town and the castle were owned by the Comes of Sáros, Tekus, and partly by the brothers called Both and Baach. (Please, note that I am going to use the Oriental name order for Hungarians where family names come first.)

Photo: Szeder László

Here are a few videos about the castle from the old and from the present days, the first one is the work of Fodor Zsolt:

The next video was made in 2013:

King Zsigmond of Hungary gave a permit to Egyed of the Tekus family to build a stone castle on their hill in 1387. The new castle became the center of the Torna family. When the family was discontinued, Torna castle was given to Berencsi István in 1406 who took over the „Tornai” name as well. This family also disappeared in 1440 and Lord Bebek Imre gained the castle. The infamous landlord fell in the Battle of Rigómező in 1448. The Bohemian Hussites took advantage of his death and took Torna castle away from the family. It was only Hunyadi János who could get it back in 1451.

The settlement received the rank of a market town from King Matthias Corvinus in 1476. Later on the lords of Torna, Ferenc and Bebek Imre sided with the Holy Roman Emperor but soon Bebek Imre went over to King Szapolyai János. The area was located on the debated border between King Ferdinand and King Szapolyai during the Dual Kingship of Hungary. The fort was taken in 1556 by General Dietrich and Pucheim, employed by King Ferdinand, with a short siege. However, King Ferdinand had to cede the castle to the army of Bebek György, the Chief Comes of Gömör County during the same year.

Photo: Imre Lánczi

The army of Magócsy Gáspár took the castle back in 1567 for the Habsburg Emperor who rewarded their loyalty by giving it to them. As the Bebek family was discontinued because of the death of Bebek György, the castle’s ownership was not disputed. The castle was fortified with new bastions in the 16th century to answer to the challenge of more developed artillery of the age.
The troops of Prince Bethlen Gábor of Transylvania occupied it in 1612 but the castle had to be given back to the Habsburgs in 1624, according to the Treaty of Vienna.

Photo: Martin Hlauka (Pescan)

As the castle was not far away from the Military Borderland, Ottoman raiding parties that came from Eger castle were looting the settlement in 1652 and the same happened in 1675. When the troops of Teleki Mihály, Chancellor of the Prince of Transylvania, arrived at the castle in 1678, the Hungarian soldiers of the garrison cut down the German mercenaries and opened the gates before the Transylvanians. It was a typical case during the wars of the Transylvanian princes: the Hungarian garrisons usually ceded the castles to them quite happily.

Photo: Imre Lánczi

It was General Leslie who took it back from them in 1679. The next owner of Torna castle was Pasha Ibrahim who occupied the castle, supported by the troops of Prince Thököly Imre in 1683. Not much later, the so-called “kuruc” rebels of Thököly abandoned the castle and the army of General Schultz could move in without a fight. He took good care of exploding the castle with gunpowder so nobody else came to occupy it anymore.

Photo: Imre Lánczi

It is nice to see that the information board at the castle includes the Hungarian language as well (2020), it is a habit that should be common in other castles in Slovakia, too. The local Hungarian community of Torna has been trying to preserve the ruins and clean the vegetation on the hilltop but they could use some help because the place is wonderful and it is part of our historic heritage.


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Here are more pictures of Torna Castle: