Going on a trip to Modra? If you already know the history of this picturesque town, you already know something about Modra ceramics and you have also tried great Modra wine, your next stop should be the castles and chateaux in Modra and its surroundings. Trust me, this trip into history will stick in your memory for a long time. We will start at the Biely Kameň Castle and end our trip at one of the most romantic places in Slovakia, which is the Smolenice Castle.
Biely Kameň castle
The first stop on our imaginary route is the Biely Kameň Castle. It was once a majestic, fortified residence, now a ruin. The ruins of the Biely Kameň Castle are located less than 13 km from Modra in the town of Svätý Jur.
If you decide to go on the trip by car, be sure to drive along Prostredná Street, cross the roundabout and continue past the Pálffy manor house. In the distance, the most beautiful of the churches in Svätý Jur – the church of St. George – will be rising up. There is a large enough parking lot under the church where you can park your four-wheeler for free.
If you go by bus instead of a car, get off at the “Krajinská” stop in Svätý Jur. Then a pleasant walk to the centre of the town awaits you.
You can get to Svätý Jur by train as well. You get on at the main station in Bratislava and before you can say Jack Robinson, you will be getting off the train in Svätý Jur. The journey takes barely 14 minutes. A walk from the bus stop to the centre will take almost the same time. However, just remember that you are currently on the route of the first horse-drawn railway in Hungary. The charm of the past will get under your skin, your step will be steadier, and your trip will acquire a completely different point of view.
The ruins of the Biely Kameň Castle are hidden in the forest. As we are used to with castles, this one also rises high on the hill. There is an asphalt path leading to it, just follow the yellow tourist sign. A little later, you leave the asphalt road and continue along the forest path. A slight continuous climb awaits you, which will lead you directly to the impressive ruin. Since 2020, the repair of the castle has been carried out by enthusiasts from the civil association CASTRUM SANCTI GEORGII. This hike is not long and takes approximately 1.5 hours.
If you have reserved more time for a trip to the forest, I recommend going along the educational trail of Svätý Jur, which will lead you to the Great Moravian fortified settlement.
A unique experience is a guided tour, which lasts about 4 hours. It is connected with an interesting interpretation. We can adapt the length of the route and the stops to your preferences. You will appreciate this option especially if you are thinking about a unique experience for your friends. Svätý Jur lookout, vineyard open-air museum, Biely Kameň castle ruins, Great Moravian fortified settlement – each place is associated with stories that only an experienced guide can present to you in an engaging way. It will be a real treat for your body and soul!
If hiking in the hills is not your cup of tea and you prefer castles located right in the city center, go to Pezinok. Pezinok Castle is a former water castle with double walls and a moat, which once served a defensive function. Years ago, even carps that were bred for the royal court swam in it. Today you won’t find them there anymore, but you can admire the proud peacocks, cheerful ducks and birds that hide in the crowns of rare trees in the castle park.
The beautifully renovated Šimák Castle offers regular tours of its exterior and interior. In 75 minutes, you will discover the secret of Pálffy’s apartments, Katarína Pálffy’s Golden Hall and underground cellars. The tour also includes a unique glass gallery and an exhibition of Jawa motorbikes. The award-winning chef at Palffy Restaurant and Zámocká beer joint will take care of the superb gastronomic experience.
Get to know beautiful Pezinok with a guide who will guide you through the historic core. 90 minutes will be enough for you to see the most important buildings, hear interesting stories and get to know the personalities of this town. You will end your tour right at the Šimák Castle, where you can refresh yourself with wine grown in the castle’s vineyards. It takes 8 minutes to get from Modra to Pezinok by car. You can park directly in the grounds of the castle. Buses from Modra run every 15 minutes, from Ľ. Štúr square in Modra directly to main square in Pezinok.
Foto: Zámok Šimák
Červený Kameň CASTLE
The third and mandatory stop is the Červený Kameň Castle. It is only 10 km away from Modra. It belongs to the most visited castles of the Little Carpathians. You will be simply enchanted by the tour. However, the tour will only be perfect if you do not miss the sub-castle, which is part of the Great Circuit or the Renaissance Fortress Circuit. Breath-taking are the three-story cellars, the largest in Central Europe, which deserve your attention.
The castle is an exhibition of period housing, where you can see furniture from the Renaissance, Baroque and Art Nouveau periods in 24 rooms. If you like objects that radiate history, or you would like to put your inherited porcelain into good hands, don’t miss the antique market that is organized in the summer months. A great experience is the role-playing tours, thanks to which you will find yourself in the ancient past at least for a moment. The role-playing tours on the castle take place in the early evening, it is much more worthwhile to wait for the first Wednesday of the month, when the tours are free. Erudite guides in three languages will tell you about the beautiful Maria Fuggerova or the influential Pálffy family. A unique experience is an interactive tour of birds of prey from the Astur Falconry Yard located in the castle grounds. The castle includes beautiful baroque gardens, a large English park and the funeral chapel of the Pálffy family.
If you have already been to the castle and would like to learn something new, take the “Okolohradná potulka” (“Stroll around the castle”) educational trail. This interesting walk will take you approximately 1.5 hours. In the vicinity of the castle, other natural gems and historical monuments await you, which you may have never even heard of. A three-hour tour with a guide is offered by the Redstone Castle Hiking Tour, which can be the answer to the question of where to go on a trip with children. The Jewish cemetery, the ascent to Calvary, but also the old copper mines and a walk through the Častianská Valley. You can then enjoy a well-deserved coffee and an ice cream sundae in the castle cafe, where the tour ends.
Foto: Henrich Vajsábel
Budmerice Castle is one of the most beautiful romantic buildings in the Modra area and is reminiscent of French castles on the Loire. It is only a 10-minute drive from Modra. The castle is an ideal place for walks, relaxation, but also for hiking. It is truly beautiful and elegant, so it is no wonder that its interior is often sought after by couples in love for wedding photography. Beautiful images are also created in a vast English park.
The castle was built by Count Ján Pálffy as a gift to his future wife. Today, you can find his tomb at the Budmerice cemetery. Until recently, the castle was used by the literary fund of Slovak writers, today it is managed by the municipality and professionally supported by the Slovak National Museum – Museum of Červený Kameň. You can experience tours of the interior all year round during the weekend. We recommend a discovery trip through the English park, where you will find the chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes and you will reach the Červený Kameň Castle. An interesting addition to the tour is a booklet in the form of a guide around the area called A Stroll through Budmerice, which you can buy directly in the castle.
Although Smolenice Castle is located a little further, about 40 minutes from Modra, you will definitely not regret visiting it. You need to park your car near the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, then you will continue on foot. You will take a walk through the beautiful meadows of a vast English park. Perhaps you too will come across a boulder that covered the grave of the famous forest robber Juraj Rajnoha.
The castle is managed by the congress centre of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, so only the lower part of the castle is accessible for tours. Interesting facts and historical facts about Jozef Pálffy the elder, who was responsible for the reconstruction of the castle, can be found all year round on weekends. During the holiday months of July and August, the castle grounds are open to tourists every day.
If Smolenice Castle reminds you of Kreuzenstein Castle near Vienna, you are not at all wrong. Countess Vilczeková, Jozef Pálffy’s mother, owned the Austrian castle. The ascent to the tower will offer you an idyllic view of the surrounding landscape, meadows and Little Carpathian forests. In the summer, you can experience the Dragon Days festival, the Festival of Forgotten Crafts, the event Ghosts in the Castle or other cultural events. Near the castle there is the Molpír castle and in the middle of the village a museum dedicated to the inventor of the parachute and a native of Smolenice, Jozef Banič. Make sure you plan your visit to this village well because it has a lot to offer.