Orava Castle (Slovak: Oravský hrad, German: Arwaburg, Hungarian: Árva vára), is situated on a high rock above Orava river in the village of Oravský Podzámok, Slovakia. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful castles in Slovakia. The castle was built in the Kingdom of Hungary in the thirteenth century. Many scenes of the 1922 film Nosferatu were filmed here, although until recently it was thought to have been shot in Transylvania.
Orava Castle stands on the site of an old wooden fortification, built after the Mongol invasion of Hungary of 1241. Its history since then reveals a familiar pattern of construction, destruction, reconstruction, fire, various ownerships and territorial squabbles. The original design was in Romanesque and Gothic style; it was later reconstructed as a Renaissance and Neo-Gothic structure, hugging the shape of the 520-metre spur on which it perches.
The mining magnate Thurzo family, who took charge in the mid 16th century, were responsible for a great deal of rebuilding work, although its present form was not finalised until 1611. It burned down again in 1800, after which the Pálffys occupied the castle. And then, after a period of dilapidation and World War II, the castle became a national monument.
Disuse, Fire and the Museum:
After the death of Erzsébet Czobor, the widow of György Thurzó, the castle became the property of Thurzó's daughters, who entrusted its administration to an elected administrator. Because of changes in politics, society and the economy, the castle gradually lost its important functions. Only a few clerks stayed on and the uninhabited and disused parts of the castle gradually deteriorated. The greatest catastrophe affected the castle in 1800, when a gigantic fire destroyed all the wooden parts of the castle. Some objects from the Lower Castle were recovered after the fire because they had been covered by the shingles. However, the objects from the Middle and Upper Castle were not reconstructed until 1861.
To find a use for the historical object, Ödön Zichy, the administrator of the property (Kompossesorat), organized a foundation which had the aim of founding a regional museum of Orava. The first exhibition took place at the Thurzo Palace in 1868. Nowadays, the Orava Museum is one of the oldest in Slovakia. Its most attractive expositions are those of the Castle Chapel, the Knights' Room, and several rooms with period-style furnishing. Further highlights include the Painting Gallery, the Weapon room, and the scientific, ethnographic and archaeological collections.