Photo: Kocsis Kadosa

The castle of Somoskő is located exactly on the Hungarian-Slovakian border, right next to the castle of Salgó. The village of the castle is called Somoskőújfalu that is still in Hungary but its castle, Somoskő (Šomoška) can be found already in Slovakia. Similar to this location, the castle used to be a Borderland castle during the Ottoman wars. When I was a child, my late father took me to Salgó castle and showed me Somoskő. It was the first castle I saw floating in a cloud and it burned into my soul. No wonder that I keep using the image of Somoskő castle for my books and web pages.

Photo: Roman Conka

Somoskő was built by one of the members of the Kacsics Clan that used to own the neighboring lands in the mid-13th century, presumably after the Mongolian invasion, we do not know the exact time. However, we know that the sons of Péter of the Kacsics Clan sided with the mighty oligarch, Csák Máté in 1310. They ceded their castles to him: Hollókő, Baglyas, Sztrahora, and Somoskő castles had to be given to the Csák family.

Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

Assumedly, the Kacsics Clan had not taken the side of Lord Csák out of his free will because King Károly Róbert, having defeated Csák Máté in 1312, gave Somoskő castle back to a member of the Kacsics Clan in 1323. Thus, Szécsényi Tamás of the Kacsics Clan, at the same time the Voivode of Transylvania, became the owner of Somoskő. 

We find Somoskő in the hand of Simon, son of Szécsényi Tamás in 1411. It was Szécsényi László who pledged the castle to Gúthi Országh mihály in 1455, then he pledged it to Losonczi Albert in 1461. After Szécsényi László died in 1461, the Losonci family became the rightful owner of Somoskő castle, confirmed by the king in 1481.

Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

During the Turkish peril, Somoskő castle could defend itself two more decades after the fall of the neighboring Fülek and Salgó castles. It was located just between them. Here is more about Salgó castle:

It was the dwelling place of the widow of Losonczy István in the 1560s’. Her husband was the one who had lost heroically his life during the siege of Temesvár. Her widow lived in Somoskő with her two daughters, Fruzsina and Anna. Anna later became the Muse of the poet Balassi Bálint who had visited her there quite often. He had written the “Julia poems” to her. Read more about Balassi Bálint here:

Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

Lord Ungnád Kristóf appointed Modolóczy Miklós as castellan of Somoskó castle. Unfortunately, Modolóczy was quite an inexperienced soldier. This was why Ali, the Bey of Fülek castle took the small Somoskő castle after a short siege in 1574 because the defenders got frightened at seeing the destruction of his cannons and fled the castle at night. After the death of Ungnád Kristóf, Lady Losonczi Anna gave her hand to Lord Forgách Zsigmond. It was how Somoskő became the property of the Forgách family, even though it was occupied by the enemy.

Somoskó castle (by Fodor Zsolt)

The Ottomans could keep it until 1593. It was then, that the army of Pálffi Miklós and Kristóf Tiefenbach liberated Fülek castle, and part of the army was sent to take Somoskő and Salgó castles as well. This contingent was led by Prépostvári Bálint. 
Seeing them come, the Turkish garrison fled so the castles were taken back without a fight.

Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

 During the anti-Habsburg fights, Prince Bocskai István of Transylvania took Somoskő in 1605. However, according to the Treaty of Vienna in 1606, the castle had to be returned to the Habsburg king of Hungary. The castle was considerably reinforced after that, its huge cannon towers were created at that time.

Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

The Diet voted money for the repairs between 1608 and 1619. The Transylvanians were fighting against the Habsburgs in the 30-Year War and Prince Bethlen Gábor seized Somoskő in 1619. He must have got it without a fight, though: almost all the Hungarian garrisons welcomed him during his campaign against the Habsburgs. When the Peace of Nikolsburg was signed in 1622, Somoskő has been returned to the king again.

Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

The Diet ruled in 1647 that the castle must be repaired from the free labor of peasants of the counties. There were 21 Hajdú soldiers defending it in 1670. Its ruin was brought about in 1682 when an Ottoman raiding party set the castle on fire at the time of Fülek’s siege. However, the castle still had a military function after this, too.

Somoskő in 1867
Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

 During the War of Independence of Prince Rákóczi Ferenc, the garrison of Somoskő sided with the rebels in 1703. When the War of Independence was put down in 1711, Emperor Leopold issued an order to blow Somoskő up, similar to many castles in Hungary. However, the order was carried out only in part by the owner of Somoskő, Ráday Pál. Later, we find the castle in the hand of the Péterffi family, then the king gives it to Count Stahremberg Antal.

Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

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Here are more pictures of Somoskő castle: