Spišský Hrad, Slovakia

Spiš Castle is one of the largest in Europe, and it’s quite a sight to see it rising above the surrounding plain. It’s a bit of a walk outside of the nearest town, and the gradient only increases as you get closer. In the current heatwave, you’ll be quite sweaty by the time you reach the outer bailey. On my walk up, I was lucky enough to see a heavy storm pass just by and not soak me as I explored the ruins.

Spišský Hrad

The castle was built in the 12th century but then abandoned in the 18th century (apparently it was too uncomfortable to live in), and burnt down in 1780. It’s rumoured that the fire was set intentionally by the owning family who wanted to avoid paying taxes. The abandonment meant that it wasn’t reconstructed as a modern palace and its location on limestone ground limited the weathering from plants. Therefore, there was a lot to work with when it was partially reconstructed in the 20th century. I think that it was done well — there’s a lot to explore, but it still feels like a ruin.