Mysterious stone sculptures on the Čičva Castle

04/13/2020

During a recent visit to the ruins of the Čičva Castle, I noticed in the massif of the northern bastion, a strange stone protrusion in an otherwise straight wall. I tried to take a picture, but it didn't reveal too much. The photo shows a special object, inserted into the massif of the bastion, on which there are clear traces of processing. Since the ravages of time left its mark on the building element, I called Ľubomír Hutek from the civic association Pro Futuro of the Čičva Castle, which brings together volunteers to save and restore this castle ruin. From his words, I found out that there are two stone ornaments in the castle, the so-called mascarons.

The first of them is located on the mentioned bastion. It is actually part of a Gothic stone console from the 14th century. According to experts, it is a heel console, probably from the original Gothic rib vault, which could (but did not have to) be built somewhere in the castle. The original location of the vault is unknown, it was probably dismantled during the extensive reconstruction of the castle, or destroyed by fire or some battle. The mascaron reached its current location in the space of the north-eastern bastion after the extensive reconstruction of the castle in the 15th century. The console is decorated with a mask, but whether it is an animal (lion) or a human face, it is difficult to read from it, as it is quite weathered. 

The second sculpture is a late Gothic mascaron from the 15th century of an oval shape, depicting a man's face with a chin. It was probably placed in the wall of the western palace only during the repairs of the fortification wall. Today, it is located in the massif of the western wall of the palace ruins and is visible from the access path leading to the courtyard of the palace part of the castle. We do not yet know its original location or purpose. 

The purpose of mascarons was mainly aesthetic, they made space or facade special, but it is also said that their task was to deter potential attackers or drive away evil forces, demons, or devils from the castle. In architectural terminology "mascaron" or in Slovak "maskarón" is a stone ornament, most often depicting a human head - sometimes scary, sometimes animal.

It is said that there is a third mascaron somewhere on the castle wall, but no one has found it yet.

Author: Igor Kňazovický, Senior Destination Manager