Just west of the center of Bratislava, Devín Castle clings to the top of a steep limestone cliff 695 feet (212 m) above the confluence of the Danube and Morava. Due to its position overlooking the rivers, this rocky fragment has had strategic importance for centuries, and the first fort was constructed here in Celtic times. Down the centuries, a Roman fortress and a subsequent Moravian stronghold replaced the Celtic battlements, and the land changed hands many times until the castle was finally blown up in the early 19th-century Napoleonic Wars.
In today’s post-Communist Europe, Devín Castle is separated from Austria only by the waters of the Danube, and its role is significant as a symbol of nationalism for the Slovak people. Closed during the Soviet era, the castle is now a photogenic ruin to explore, with winding passageways and cobbled courtyards all open to the elements. The minuscule Maiden’s Tower squats precariously on a single column of rock overlooking the river, a small museum casts light on some of the artifacts unearthed here and there’s a choice of woodland or riverside walks around the castle, as well as archery lessons on the grounds.
Devín Castle is a 10-minute car journey from the center of Bratislava, or 20 minutes on buses 28 or 29 from Nový Most (New Bridge). Between April and September, cruisers depart Bratislava’s Passenger Port for Devín at 10 p.m. daily, and the journey along the Danube takes 90 minutes. It is open in April and October from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and from May through September until 5:30 p.m. Admission costs €3.