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The Old Village and the Hollókő Castle - Hollókő, Hungary

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The iron raven statue at the crossroads refers to the name of the village (the Hungarian word "Holló-kő" means "raven rock") - Hollókő, Hungary The iron raven statue at the crossroads refers to the name of the village (the Hungarian word "Holló-kő" means "raven rock")

Created by Dávid Tóth in 2008

There are several explanations for the origin of the name of the Hollókő (literally "Ravens' Rock") village. One of the legends says that the feudal lord András Kacsics kidnapped the wife of the neighboring landowner, then he locked her into one of the rooms of the castle that was just being built. However, the governess of the lady was a witch, who allied with the devil. She asked the devil to send his assistants to the castle every night to destroy it. So the devil's assistants appeared every day in the form of ravens, and they carried away all the stones of the walls that were built in that day.

According to a more prosaic and plausible explanation ravens nested on the cliff where today the castle is located, and that's where the name of the settlement comes from.

A street paved with natural stone, decorated with geranium flowers - Hollókő, Hungary A street paved with natural stone, decorated with geranium flowers

The text on the information board of Hollókő says approximately the followings:

Hollókő is a small Palots ("palóc") village in the Cserhát Hills with a population of just a few hundred inhabitants. It is hard to forget the whitewashed, woodcarving-decorated houses and the shingle-roofed small church for all those people who have been here. Hollókő village still shows the traditional architecture and form of settlement, as well as it preserved the rural life style before the agricultural revolution of the 20th century, so it deserved to be admitted to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1987. The Old Village received its current image after the conflagration of 1909. The group of 64 monumental listed buildings are in the center of the settlement. Hollókő is a one-street or single-street village which is typical in the region. The structure of the village is based on the double row of houses on narrow strip-like plots which are perpendicular to the central street. The small church with the shingled wooden tower in the center of the village was built in 1889.

Hollókő is a still living and inhabited settlement, and the traditionalist residents still use most of the buildings for their intended purpose. And on special occasions they still dress in their hand-woven embroidered national folk costumes.

Castle of Hollókő - Hollókő, Hungary Castle of Hollókő

The Hollókő Castle is an irregular shaped, somewhat snail-shell-like structure with the pentagonal inner tower (keep), standing on a 362-meter-high crag (cliff). The construction was begun on the Kacsics clan owned estate by using the stones using stones quarried in the area, sometimes after the first Mongol Invasion of Hungary (1241-1242), but the foundations were probably built earlier. Interestingly not the highest point in the area was chosen for the castle, but the protected location and difficult accessibility was more important. Firstly the pentagonal tower (the keep), the four residential levels and the outer castle yard (wall pass) were completed. The palace wing, knights' hall, chapel etc. were built over the next centuries. The first written mention of the castle is in a charter from 1310, in "Castrum Hollokew" form.

A cistern (water tank) and former outbuildings on the outer castle-courtyard - Hollókő, Hungary A cistern (water tank) and former outbuildings on the outer castle-courtyard

In 1552 the Castle of Hollókő couldn't resist to the Turkish attacks. The relative insignificance of the castle and the strife of the two captains both were contributing factors in that when the vast army of Hadim Ali Pasha of Bosnia and Buda approached, then the some twenty garrison-soldiers simply ran away leaving the fortress behind. In 1593 the Hungarians regained the castle also without bloodshed, only through diplomatic channels, but some times later it came under the authority of the Turks again for another 20 years. Finally the troops of John III Sobieski King of Poland liberated this castle together with the castle of Szécsény in 1683.

Western wing of the palace - Hollókő, Hungary Western wing of the palace

In 1701 Leopold I Holy Roman Emperor and King of Hungary (as well as Austrian prince from the House of Habsburg) ordered to blow up the Hollókő Castle, together with many other castle in Hungary. Fortunately in Hollókő it wasn't happened. By referencing to the difficult financial situation of Hungary and to preserve the peace finally the outer walls of the castle was demolished in 1711, thereby the other parts could luckily avoid the total destruction.

In 1718 the castle is already referred as a ruin, the further slow decay was assisted by both the weather and the local residents, who carried away the stones to build in into their houses. The archaeological exploration of the building was begun in 1966, as well as the restoration in 1970. It can be visited since 1996. Since 1977 the castle and its surroundings was already a landscape protection area, then in 1987 as the first in Hungary it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site list, together with Hollókő Old Village and the Danube banks of Budapest.

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