ONE of the oldest castles in Slovakia, Devín, sits on a huge rock overlooking where the Morava river meets the Danube. The name Devín probably derives from Dowina, which in Old Slavic meant girl.
The rocky hill on which the castle stands was first settled around 5000BC. Celts lived in the area between the 2nd and 1st centuries BC. In the early centuries AD, Romans built a small settlement there, part of the Limes Romanus fortified system that created the border of the Roman Empire north of the Danube. The castle was enlarged significantly in the 9th century, during the Great Moravian Empire, when powerful Slav princes Mojmír, Rastislav and Svätopluk ruled from there. Slovak history marks that era as the birth of Slovak nationalism, which officially awoke ten centuries later. In the 10th century, the territory of the town of Devín became part of the Hungarian state. The Hungarian kings and strong feudal dynasties turned the castle into a stone fortification at the turn of the 12th and 13th centuries. Some two centuries later, extensive reconstruction gave it the appearance of a robust gothic castle.
One of the castle's legends, originating in the feudal period, has it that the lady of the castle had beautiful twin girls. On her deathbed, she gave each of them an apple, saying that the apples represented their lives. After their mother's death the sisters exchanged the apples, so that each was responsible for the life of the other. The sisters lived in harmony until the day when a handsome hunter came to the castle. He fell in love with the beautiful lady of the castle, not knowing that there were actually two of them - and that he was dating both twins.
The twins did not know that they had fallen for the same man either. Then one evening, the three of them met by accident and discovered the truth. One of the sisters, in a furious rage, smashed the apple protecting the life of the other sister on the ground. By doing that, she killed her twin. A beautiful apple tree grew on the spot where the apple fell. The jealous sister turned into a black goat, which, according to locals, can still be seen jumping on the castle rock today.
Devín Castle was destroyed by Napoleon's army in 1809 and left to deteriorate.
Devín Castle is located above the village of Devín, a 20-minute drive west from the centre of Bratislava