The Watch

Lietava Castle

Lietava, Slovakia

2010 World Monuments Watch

Atop a rocky crest in the Sulov highlands, the first stones of Lietava Castle were laid in the last quarter of the 13th century. The castle was built to command movement along the Amber Road, the ancient trade route for the transfer of amber between Europe and Asia. It is believed that members of the Balas lineage built the original four-story tower, which was expanded over the centuries into a massive, three-tiered fortress. As the castle passed to successive owners, it underwent a number of transformations, culminating in a Gothic-Renaissance style during the first half of the 16th century that survives in the building fabric today. The weathered remains of renaissance portals, 16th-century inscriptions, fireplaces, and coats of arms serve as steadfast reminders of the castle’s past grandeur. The castle was abandoned in the mid-18th century, and has since evolved into a strikingly picturesque ruin. However, neglect and the forces of time have weakened the structure, and stabilization is required. The maintenance of ruins, particularly of this magnitude, poses both technical and philosophical preservation challenges. At Lietava Castle, these challenges are compounded by a lack of resources and limited community engagement in the stewardship of this important symbol of the region’s history.

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