Devin is a borough of Bratislava. History records place its first settlement as early as the 5th-8th century B.C., around the time of the Great Moravian Empire. Before Napoleon’s army blew it up in 1809, it served as a boundary fortress and trading port. It became a national cultural monument in 1961 and has since been visited by locals and foreign guests for its strategic location, panoramic views and rich history. The site says the castle is closed on Mondays, but on a Trip Advisor forum someone confirmed that only the Museum is closed while the castle grounds remain open. Swell! Our troop donned our rubber shoes ๐Ÿ‘Ÿ and off we went via 2 easy red bus transfers (#39 and #29 which terminates just below the castle) to explore the ruins of Hrad Devin. Took us less than half an hour from Bratislava to reach Devin. If you’re driving a car or taking a cab, I’d say you’re there in 15 minutes. Along the way, we’ve met a small crowd of no more than 10 pairs visiting at the same time — all eager to glimpse this well-preserved ruin depicted in Slovakian currency and stamps. In fact, the word “Devin” has become synonymous with anything Slovakian!

Devin Castle is only 12 kilometres from Bratislava’s Old Town and lies on a high cliff right at the confluence of the Danube and Morava Rivers. From the terrace of either the Middle and Upper Castle, you spot Morava joining the Danube amidst a glorious view of Austria (you can ride a boat from Hainburg) across the Danube and where parts of Hungary are visible. We were able to replenish our water bottles in a medieval well within a courtyard just before crossing a bridge over the moat. From here, one climbs the stairs to reach the top platform. I remember a girl of 8-10 years going down the same stairs while I was climbing up with one hand on the rail. She suddenly stopped, looking pale and scared as she looked down. I offered my arm for her to hold on to. Hesitantly she held on to my arm till I got her on the handrail while her dad waited for her on the lower platform. I saw myself in that young girl: adventurous with delayed nervous breaks!

The sun was relentless that mid morning as we climbed our way up the castle ruins. Before the climb, I didn’t see sheep grazing in the castle grounds but I spotted a lone donkey who kept so still under a shed. The red-roofed houses in the village presented a magical panorama amidst the mountains so green with its lush forest. On the side of the Danube and Morava rivers, the Maiden Tower draws your attention. I couldn’t take a good photo without overreaching and risking dropping my iPhone so I grabbed a photo from the Net. The tower is likewise called VIRGIN Tower and a legend goes that a bride jumped to her death from here when her groom was killed by her family who disapproved of the marriage. Sad ๐Ÿ˜”

The view from the top is certainly worth the climb. A sign says “Horny Hrad” (shut up – It only means Upper Castle ๐Ÿ˜‚) which describes it as having been built in the late 13th century, only to be blown up in 1809 when French army led by Napoleon Bonaparte installed explosives to destroy it. The ruins still tell a compelling (and complicated) story of this castle fortress once held by monarchs from the Austrian and Hungarian kingdoms. It’s hard to even imagine that the border of the Iron Curtain once ran just in front of this Castle.


Photo sourced from the Net

The Maiden Tower. Photo Sourced from the Net

On a good day like we had, it would be nice to explore the hiking and biking trails. But our energy levels were down to a single bar and we were eager to ride back to the city for lunch and a bit of air-conditioned retail therapy. The hike would have been an ideal activity during spring when the farm animals are put to pasture and the flowers are in bloom. We didn’t bother checking the dining places near the castle but we’re told there are a few offering authentic Slovak cuisine. Just the same, Hrad Devin is one of the highlights of our trip to Bratislava . So glad we went even though the Museum exhibits were closed. ๐Ÿ’•