I’ve visited Stara Lubovna castle twice before. Each time we were impressed with the additional restoration and explanatory exhibits. This time we brought our daughter and family to see it and once again there was even more to enjoy.
The explanation of the history is well done in several languages, including English. Over hundreds of years the land was controlled by Austria, Hungary and Poland although much of the surrounding population was Slovak and Rusyn (Ruthenian).
It’s a self guided tour unless you are part of a group. We liked this arrangement since we were able to spend as much time as we wanted in each area – the family rooms, the great hall, the tower, the artillery, the chapel, the underground chambers and the view of the surrounding countryside.
There was armor set out which the children were allowed to try on. Great photos!
A demonstration of trained birds of prey was very well done. This year there were benches set up so people could rest during the program.
This castle is of special interest to me since my grandmother’s village (Sambron), which she left in 1900, is only a few kilometers away. However, we have visited dozens of castles throughout Europe, including the very well known ones and I believe this site is well worth the visit even without the family heritage connection.
I suggest continuing your visit in the “Skanzen”(open air museum) below to learn about the lives of the people in the villages. Here 19th and early 20th century buildings have been gathered from around the country. The wooden Greek (Byzantine) Catholic Church with its icons is amazing. The school, homes, workshops, & farm buildings are very well organized on the map and each building has additional information in several languages, including English.
Since our last visit we have observed many additions and improvements.
There was a large photoboard with a life-size picture of a family as they appeared 100 years ago. The young girl in the picture looked surprisingly like our 12 year old granddaughter. A definite Slovak gene is at work here. This area was the source of tremendous immigration to the USA especially to northeastern PA, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Cleveland.
English is not commonly spoken in this part of the country, but they have made a great effort to accommodate us. Initially, we were greeted by a volunteer who spoke English, explained the first stop on the map (the church) and helpfully answered our questions.
There were several stands of lovely crafts and local foods at excellent prices. We bought wood carvings and gingerbread.
The volunteers were so friendly and patient with my “broken Slovak.” Their love of preserving their heritage is obvious. I recommend this site to anyone interested in history and especially anyone whose ancestors immigrated from this region.
After our tour, we ate in the restaurant. The food was good and the prices were reasonable.
Once you have explored the lives of the noble and peasant classes, don’t miss the exhibit of the lives of the middle class in the museum on the main square of the town.
The tour is conducted by Maya who speaks excellent English. This house of a craftsman contains furniture of the period including a working pump organ and manikins in period clothing. In addition to her explanation of the exhibits, Maya told us many entertaining tales and legends of the area.
We made souvenirs with the antique coin press, learned about the process of producing patterned cloth and observed a demonstration of how paper was once made by hand.
All three sites together create a wonderful window into history.