Devín Castle as a symbol
Members of the Štúr movement adopted their Slavic names in the Devín Castle and referred to its Slavic past. But the only historical figure in the history of Great Moravia whose name can, based on the sources, be directly associated with Devín is Prince Rastislav. As agreed by many historians, both the prince and the castle are referred to by Meginhard, the annalist, in the report of 864 of the amended Annals of Fulda: “In the month of August, Louis, the king went to war behind Danube with huge armed forces and besieged Rastic in a castle called Dowina (girl) in the language of the local nation.”
After the archaeological research of the remains of a sacred building on the castle hill, it started to be even more obvious that, at the time of Great Moravia, Devín was not only a border guard forthill, but also a seat of the prince with the key importance for history of Slovakia. Based on the architectonic form and decoration of the church, historians can suppose that the mission of Constantine and Methodius invited and expected here by Rastislav entered the territory of current Slovakia just in this area.
Along with Nitra and the Bratislava Castle, Devín is one of the three most important sites in Slovakia the Slovak national awareness is leaning on.
At the prehistoric times, Devín was a natural intersection both for humans and animals such as mammoths. Evidence was also found in 2022 when a mammoth tooth was discovered near Devín at the low water level in the Morava River. Mammoths travelled this way on their usual migration route from the south to the north.
Humans were settling the European country in this direction after the Ice Age. Farmers were settling here. Entire civilizations coming from the Carpathian Basin to current Moravia, Lower Austria, or even Southern Germany intermingled around Devín. Devín as a contact point between rivers and mountains also became a civilization intersection where various cultures and religions were getting in touch.
The oldest settlements and fortifications were built here. Along with agriculture and hunting, their inhabitants made their living by brisk trade on the Amber Road between the Baltic Sea and Mediterranean, but also on the Danube Road along the Danube River – from Western Europe to the east.
At the prehistoric times, Devín was a part of prehistoric cultures of the Middle Danube region. They were developing within the Carpathian Basin, and, in some regions, they were very developed.
At the end of the Bronze Age, the bearers of the militant culture of Čaka fortified here and founded cult and military centres of which Devín belonged to the most important ones. They were collecting bronze here to produce arms and gear for fighters. Some researchers think that predecessors of Greeks – Pre-Dorians – were just in this culture.
The La Tene culture came to Devín later. Celts populated the region along the Danube River towards the east; they were building forthills, one of the most important ones was built on the castle hill of Bratislava. As indicated by recent archaeological research, Celts were minting silver and golden coins under Devín.
In the Roman era, the Danube River represented an important border between the Pannonian province and Barbaricum region. Many tribes and ethnic groups passed Devín after the fall of Rome. Huns, Ostrogoths, Vandals, Rugians, Langobards. Then first Slavic inhabitants appeared. Devín was situated on the border with the Avar Khaganate and a Slavic-Avar cemetery was preserved here.
In the Middle Ages, the border was moved from the river to the mountains to separate the Kingdom of Hungary from the Holy Roman Empire the Ost Mark of which was the basis for current Austria.
During World War II, Devín (as well as Petržalka) was a part of the German Empire for a short period of time, the name of the municipality was Theben an der March. The deteriorating amphitheatre on the south-western slope was built just in this period. After the war, these parts were annexed to Czechoslovakia.
Text author: Andrej Barát
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