Photo: Moahim

Nevicke (Невицький замок, Nevytske) castle can be found in Ukraine, in the Carpathian Mountains, blocking the Transcarpathian route against the Eastern nomads who wanted to enter the Kingdom of Hungary through the Pass of Uzsok (Uzhok Pass). The trade route was connecting Poland and Galicia with Hungary.

The castle is just 12 kilometers to the north of Ungvár (Ужгород). It is located in the woods on the hill of volcanic origin with a relative elevation of 122 meters (400 ft) and a few hundred meters to the east of the road and the Ung River that flows along. The place has always been a fortification since the Iron Age. According to a legend, the castle had been built by a Slavic princess before the Home-Taking of the Hungarians, and its name derives from the Slavic word “nevisztka” which stands for “bride” in the English language.

Photo: АлінаОста

Nevicke was first mentioned in 1272 as an impregnable fort, assumedly built (or rather rebuilt) by Aba Amadé. We know that the area around the castle was owned by the Amadé family in 1279, namely, they belonged to Finta and his brother, Amadé. It was the king’s man, Ákos Mikcs who took the castle away from László, son of Amadé in 1317.

Lord Drugeth János was one of the most faithful supporters of King Károly Róbert so the king gifted Nevicke to him in 1332. (Note, I use the Eastern name order for Hungarian names.) Then, during the following decades, the Drugeth family turned the castle into a stone-built fort, and it has become their headquarters, too. When Palatine Vilmos, the son of Drugeth János died, King Louis I. gave the castle to Vilmos’ younger brothers, Miklós and János in 1343. 

In a document dated from 1509, we can find the following castles in the Homonnai Drugeth family’s hands: Barkó castle, Jeszenő castle, Zemplén castle and palace, Nevicke castle, Ungvár castle, and palace. At that time, Nevicke was regarded as a more important fort than Ungvár castle.  We know that Lord Drugeth György II was a quite violent person who was even besieging the castle of his own parents at Gerény. He chose to settle down in Nevicke with his wife, Dóczy Fruzsina. Their wedding took place in 1567 and they had two children, Mária and György.

Photo: Masha Kovalchuk

As György died early, it was his widow who took over the immense domains of the family. In defense of her children, she often collided with her neighbors, Zokoly Péter and Bánóczy Simon. They were harassing her but the widow struck back and her troops destroyed one of the villages of Zokoly. The neighbors reported her and even the Diet was discussing the case. As the other Drugeth family members failed to support her, the Diet declared that she and her children must be treated as “common criminals”. Even though her enemies were not able to hurt her, they began to spread gossip that her baby child had accidentally fallen out from the cradle and died. According to the hearsay, the widow replaced the child with a son of a local peasant. 

 Lord Drugeth Bálint, the head of the family’s other line believed the story, and his troops besieged Nevicke castle. At first, they cut off the water supplies, then waited until the guards had nothing to eat. Lady Dóczy Fruzsina and her children were able to escape through a secret mountain path. Among great perils, they fled to Poland.

Later, her children were given a pardon and they returned home but she stayed in Poland forever. We know, that her son, György owned Nevicke in 1602. He had an important role in defending the Catholic faith by supporting the Jesuits. It made Prince Rákóczi György II of Transylvania angry who had the castle destroyed in 1644, leaving it much as it stands today.

Photo: badzeluk

The fort of Nevicke belongs to those castles built before 1312 that had an irregular elliptical foundation with an inner tower. The castle was defended by a deep moat from three sides while its western side faced a steep slope. We can observe several periods of construction. The outer walls were reinforced by four bastions, three oval and a triangular one. The gate of the castle was at the southwestern hexagonal bastion, it was supplied with a drawbridge. From the hexagonal bastion, a walled corridor led into the inner castle’s fore-yard. There is another gate that leads to the south-eastern side. The earliest part of the castle is the so-called “old tower”.

The renovation of the castle began in earnest in 1879 and lasted until 1914. They had even created a nice park around the place. Again, a century has passed without any renovation until this very day. A decline in defensive importance of the site, and the remote and inaccessible situation of the castle, have preserved it from complete demolition. However, we can have some good hope for the future of the castle because Nevicke Castle has not been forgotten by the local people who love its history. They have a wonderful support page on Facebook:

Photo: Даніїл Захарченко

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Here are more pictures of Nevicke Castle: