Timeline of Orava Castle history
First written record of Orava Castle1267
The first known written record of the existence of Orava Castle comes from 1267. In the donation contract, the castle became a property of the Hungarian king Béla IV after it was taken away from its original owner Mika from Balassa family (the Sheriff of Zvolen County that included the later Orava County) in exchange for boroughs of Varín, Žilina and Sučany.
Matthew Csák of Trenčín1298
The Orava region and the castle were seized by the Magnate Matthew Csák of Trenčín.
Orava Castle in the royal domain1333
Magister Donč helped the king Charles Robert of Anjou with depriving Matthew Csák of Trenčín of his property, and handed Orava Castle over to the royal domain.
Stibor of Śćiborzyc1420
Orava Castle ended up under the influence of Stibor of Śćiborzyc, a dedicated supporter of Sigismund of Luxembourg – the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and the king of Hungary.
During the civil war for the Hungarian crown, Orava Castle was seized by Peter Komorovský, one of the leaders of the former Hussite fighters supporting Ladislas the Posthumous.
In 1474, Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus gained the castle to his possession and initiated its first significant rebuilding programme.
Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus donated Orava Castle to his illegitimate son and heir John.
After the death of John Corvinus, John Zapolya became an owner of Orava Castle. Its administration was entrusted to Peter and Nicholas Kostka.
The Battle of Mohács1526
After the defeat at Mohács, John Zapolya endeavoured to seize the Hungarian throne against Ferdinand I of Habsburg.
John of Dubovec1534
Nicholas Kostka went over to the side of Ferdinand I of Habsburg who rewarded him with honorary rank. At the same time, Orava Castle passed to the possession of Kostka’s relative John of Dubovec.
Extensive modernization of the castle1540
Castellan John of Dubovec initiated extensive modernization works focusing primarily on castle’s fortification system.
After John’s death, his relative Wenceslaus Sedlnický quarrelled about the possession of Orava Castle with Nicholas Kostka. In 1549, the dispute was ended by the emperor and Sedlnický was appointed as the castellan.
In 1556, the County of Orava, including the castle, was passed to the possession of Francis Thurzo who started not only with another rebuilding but also initiated an extensive colonisation of previously sparsely populated Upper Orava area.
After the death of Francis Thurzo, his son George, raised and educated at the court of Archduke Ernst of Habsburg, was established as an heir.
Unsuccessful siege of Orava Castle1605
During the first anti-Habsburg insurrection led by Stephen Boscskai, the insurgent forces attempted to seize Orava Castle but unsuccessfully.
George Thurzo – the Count and the Sheriff of Orava1606
For his fidelity to Habsburgs during the Fifteen Years’ War against the Ottoman empire and the Bocskai’s insurrection, George Thurzo was named the Count and the Sheriff of Orava and rewarded with an inheritable possession of the county.
George Thurzo – the Palatine of Hungary1609
George Thurzo was bestowed with the title of Palatine of Hungary – the second highest-ranking office in Hungary after the king.
After his death, George Thurzo was buried in the family crypt in the Chapel of St. Michael at Orava Castle. His only son Emerich was made his heir.
Elisabeth Thurzo (born Czobor)1621
With the death of Emerich Thurzo, the Orava-Bytča branch of Thurzo family died out by sword. Emerich’s mother Elisabeth Thurzo (born Czobor) became the head of the County of Orava and controlled both the castle and the administration of the county.
Establishment of the Orava Compossessorate1626
After the death of Elisabeth, all the legitimate heirs of Thurzo family met at Lietava Castle and formed the Orava Compossessorate (co-ownership). Its aim was to control the county with the seat at Orava Castle and to prevent the division of the family possessions. The administration would be entrusted to the hands of one elected director who would redistribute the Compossessorate profits between the remaining owners. Caspar Illésházy was elected the first director.
Gabriel Illésházy – new director1648
Gabriel Illésházy was named the director of the Orava Compossessorate after the death of his father Caspar.
Henkel crypt built at Orava Castle1651
Second family crypt was built in the Chapel of St. Michael. Between the years 1651 – 1666, the members of Henkel family (Gabriel Henkel, his wife and granddaughter of George Thurzo Sidonia and their children Lazar and Emerencia) were buried in the chapel.
Stephen Thököly – new director1653
Stephen Thököly was named the next director of the Orava Compossessorate.
Orava Castle handed over to the Habsburgs’ army1670
The new director of the Orava Compossessorate Stephen Thököly was involved in another anti-Habsburg insurrection, this time led by the Palatine Stephen Wesselényi. The emperor Leopold I therefore ordered to confiscate his possessions and sent his divisions to Orava Castle. Thököly kept repulsing the attacks until his death, when the castle crew finally surrendered and Thököly’s possessions, including his shares in the Compossessorate, were passed to the empire. Nicholas Draškovič was elected the new director.
The “kuruc” movement army in Orava1672
The „kuruc“ divisions (soldiers and refugees joining the anti-Habsburg conspiracy) penetrated into Orava where joined by Protestant peasants. Under the leadership of Caspar Pika, the “kuruc” units took Orava Castle. However, the emperor Leopold I sent his army to Orava and with the help from Catholics defeated the revolt and won the castle back. The participants in Pika’s rebellion were brutally executed in Oravský Podzámok.
George Illésházy – new director1673
George Illésházy was named the next director of the Orava Compossessorate.
George Erdödy senior – new director1676
George Erdödy senior was named the director of the Orava Compossessorate. The actual execution of his duties was complicated by unstable conditions in the country caused by another insurrection.
Orava Castle seized by Emerich Thököly1677
Under the leadership of Emerich Thököly, Orava Castle was temporarily controlled by the “kuruc” divisions. However, by the end of the year, the castle was won back by the Habsburgs’ army without a fight.
Orava devastated by Polish-Lithuanian army1683
The “kuruc” divisions besieged Orava Castle in order to win it for their commander Emerich Thököly. The imperial soldiers were able to defend themselves until the arrival of the allied forces of Polish army led by John Casimir Sapieha. During the battle, the Polish-Lithuanian units fiercely ravaged Orava. 27 villages were burned down and many civilians were slaughtered.
Orava Castle back in the hands of „kuruc“ forces1708
After the victorious battle of Trenčín, the Habsburg forces led by John Pálffy started to besiege the County of Orava and the castle, and finally, the “kuruc” forces surrendered in spring of 1709.
George Erdödy junior – new director1712
George Erdödy junior was named the director of the Orava Compossessorate. Under his direction, the Compossessorate’s administration was reorganized and the colonisation of Orava concluded.
Catholicization of the Chapel of St. Michael1751
The Protestant chapel at Orava Castle was Catholicized and dedicated to Saint Michael. Its original furnishing from the 17th century, including the main altar, was transported to Necpaly and replaced by the new Baroque Catholic one.
Orava Compossessorate without a director1758
After the death of George Erdödy junior, the Orava Compossessorate was left without a director and its administration was entrusted to the hands of the country.
Nicholas Esterházy – new director1782
Nicholas Eszterházy was named the director of the Orava Compossessorate.
Francis Zichy senior – new director1792
After the death of Nicholas Eszterházy, Francis Zichy senior was named the director of the Orava Compossessorate.
The great fire of Orava Castle1800
From the Parsonage at the Main Courtyard, the great fire broke out and destroyed almost the whole castle complex. After its two weeks’ course, Orava Castle was left useless and was facing its ending. However, the Orava Compossessorate director Francis Zichy senior initiated the most necessary restoration works that saved the castle from its inevitable destruction.
Joseph Erdödy – new director1813
Joseph Erdödy was named the new director of the Orava Compossessorate.
Francis Zichy junior – new director1824
Francis Zichy junior was named the new director of the Orava Compossessorate.
The abolishment of feudalism1848
As a result of the 1848 revolution, the feudal system was abolished in Austria-Hungary.
Edmund Zichy – new director1862
Edmund Zichy was named the new director of the Orava Compossessorate. Under his direction, the Compossessorate transformed from a feudal estate into a progressive modern organisation in woodworking industry.
First museum at Orava Castle established1868
From the initiative of the Orava Compossessorate forest governor Wiliam Rowland, the first museum was established at Orava Castle, with its exhibitions composed on the basis of the training courses for the new employees of the Com-possessorate. From this year on, Orava Castle is accessible to the public.
Paul Eszterházy – new director1894
Paul Eszterházy was named the new director of the Orava Compossessorate.
Joseph Pálffy – new director1896
Joseph Pálffy was named the new director of the Orava Compossessorate.
Romantic reconstruction of the castle1906
Under the direction of Joseph Pálffy, the renovation works in Romantic tendencies were started at Orava Castle, focusing primarily on the Corvinus Palace, the Main Courtyard and the Residential Tower.
The First World War1914
The outbreak of the First World War stopped the reconstruction process.
The origin of the Czechoslovak republic1918
After the war, the dissolution of Austria-Hungary resulted into the formation of several new states, including the Czechoslovak republic.
The death of the last director1919
In 1919, the last director of the Orava Compossessorate Joseph Pálffy died and the administration board of the Compossessorate was sworn in the Czechoslovak republic. The museum at Orava Castle remained open for the public under the control of a castellan.
Forced administration of the Orava Compossessorate1920
Forced administration led by Arnošt Stuchlý was inflicted on the Orava Compossessorate.
Orava Compossessorate back in operation1923
Orava Compossessorate restored its operation after the new general meeting of its shareholders gathered. The post of a director ceased to exist and was replaced by another administrative organ of the General committee.
The Czechoslovak republic as a majority shareholder of the Orava Compossessorate1931
The Czechoslovak republic bought up most of the Compossessorate’s shares and ended up being the majority shareholder.
The Second World War1939
The outbreak of the Second World War
Orava Castle occupied by German Nazi army1944
After the outbreak of the Slovak National Uprising, the first battle in the Orava region took place in Oravský Podzámok. In autumn of this year, the region was occupied by the German army and its allies, including Orava Castle.
The Dissolution of the Orava Compossessorate1945
After more than 300 years of its function, the Orava Compossessorate was dissolved. Its forests and other possessions were passed to the state and to the surrounding villages, and Orava Castle was to hold the successor of the Compossessorate museum. However, during the frontline moves and the liberation of Orava, the castle was severely damaged (mainly by the explosion of the bridge over the Orava river) and restoration works were needed.
General restoration of Orava Castle1953
Orava Castle became the seat of Orava National History Museum. In the same year, the general restoration of the castle began.
Opening of several exhibitions at Orava Castle1968
The museum at Orava Castle celebrated the 100th anniversary of its founding. For this occasion, several exhibitions (including the Exhibition of Natural History, the Ethnographical Exhibition, the Archaeological Exhibition and the Historical Exhibition) were opened at Orava Castle and made accessible to the public.
The finishing of the restoration1977
The restoration works of the Citadel were finished which marked the ending of the general restoration of Orava Castle.
The restoration of the Chapel of St. Michael1993
The restoration works of the Chapel of St. Michael and its furnishing were started.
The Exhibition of the Castle’s Defence System2004
The forming of the new Exhibition of the Castle’s Defence System was initiated in the Western Bastion.
Finishing of the restoration of the Chapel of St. Michael2006
The opening ceremony was held on April 22 and the chapel was opened to the public on April 29 2006. On August 21 of the same year, the Chapel of St. Michael was awarded with “The Cultural Monument of the Year” prize in the “Restoration of Movable or Immovable National Cultural Monument” category.
The new Natural History Exhibition was prepared and made accessible to the public. In the same year, the new Ethnographical Exhibition was in development.
New exhibitions opened2009
After several years, the new Ethnographical Exhibition and the Exhibition of Castle’s Defence System were opened.
New Archaeological Exhibition2011
In the Citadel of the Upper Castle, the new Archaeological Exhibition dedicated to the prehistory of the Orava region and the general restoration of Orava Castle was opened.
Mediateka (Media Library) at Orava Castle2015
In one of the rooms of the Citadel, the new exhibition dedicated to the films and series produced at Orava Castle was opened.
The Treasury of Orava Castle2016
In the restored rooms on the first floor of the Thurzo Palace, the new exhibition dedicated to the noble families connected with Orava Castle and their collections was opened and called the Treasury of Orava Castle.
The restoration of the Parsonage2017
Important restoration works were initiated in the Parsonge building at the Main Courtyard. After its conclusion, a unique exhibition dedicated to the peat bogs of Orava is planned for the building’s interiors. Simultaneously, the restoration of the outer walls of the Chapel of St. Michael started.
Exhibition of international importanceSeptember 29, 2018
In the newly restored building of the Parsonage on the Main Courtyard, the new multimedia exhibition “Peatlands of Orava” was opened. The building restoration was funded by the European Union.More information
The new face of the Thurzo PalaceSeptember 29, 2018
After almost 400 years, valuable Renaissance murals were uncovered on the first floor of the Thurzo Palace. The restoration followed the works of the previous reconstruction of the ground floor that took place between the years 2003-2016.More information