Devín Castle stand on a cliff rising 212 metres above the confluence of the Morava and Danube rivers, which is also the border between Slovakia and Austria. and along the Danubian and Amber trade routes. It takes neither a military genius nor a pioneering city planner to identify the strategic worth of such a location, and the earliest archaeological finds on the site date from the new stone age, in the fifth century B.C.
Further evidence of settlements date through the late iron age and there is also evidence of Celtic, Germanic and Roman occupations, as well as the suggestion that Devín once provided a temporary home to Goth, Herul and Gepid tribes.
A stone medieval castle was built in the 13th century A.D., with a palace added 200 years later, as well as further fortifications to protect the castle against the Ottoman invasion. When Napoleon occupied and then destroyed the place in 1809, he was the first marauder to penetrate the castle's defences, leaving behind the current ruin, which has been carefully preserved and now houses a museum detailing the castle's chequered history and containing many artefacts discovered on the site.
Napoleon was, of course, unable to destroy the natural beauty of the area, and the castle's hilltop location affords spectacular views along both rivers and across both countries, surveying forests, marshlands, vineyards, more rolling hills, and the capital city. From the ground, the castle is equally attractive; it is an imposing fortress whose turrets and towers seem to be a natural extension of the vertical rock-faces launching up from the riverbank.
The most photogenic part of the castle is the tiny watchtower, seemingly not much bigger than a chess piece, known now as the Virgin Tower. Separated from the main castle, it balances perilously on a lone rock and has spawned countless legends concerning imprisoned lovelorn daughters leaping to their deaths.
Inside, the castle is a sprawling landscape of walls, staircases, open courtyards and gardens in various states of repair. They are all, however, made readily accessible by a continuing restoration and archaeological project conducted since Devín was reclaimed from the Nazis, who occupied it during the World War II. The castle became a national cultural monument in 1961 and today it is a fully-fledged tourist attraction, with well-paved pathways, informative signage, countless benches and drinking fountains. Areas of the castle are floodlit after dark, further enhancing the appeal, and a series of summer concerts has also been planned.