Orava Castle

Top choice castle in Central Slovakia

With Gothic spires and a vertigo-inducing hilltop setting, Orava Castle is among Slovakia’s most breathtaking castles. Vampire aficionados may recognise its brooding silhouette from Murnau’s classic 1922 movie Nosferatu, but the castle’s history is easily as interesting as its silver-screen appearances. Famous residents include György Thurzó, who sentenced real-life vampiress Elizabeth Báthory for hundreds of bloodthirsty murders, and Nicolaus Draskovics, rumoured to have skinned servants alive. Engaging tours bring the history to life; check website for English-language tours (thrice daily in summer).

Tour guides explain how this 13th-century fortification outlasted the centuries. Orava Castle was never conquered, thanks to its curved defence tunnels, 5m-thick walls and liberal use of projectile boiling water against intruders. Don't miss the castle's chambers draped with bearskin rugs, a fencing room filled with weapons and the chance to stare down Nosferatu himself at the end.