Levice Castle: Tekov Museum and Celtic Treasure

Unlike hundreds of other castles scattered across the hills of Slovakia, the Levice Castle is conveniently accessible by car, because it is exceptionally located in the residential area of the district town Levice. Visitors only need to take a few steps from the busy centre and they find themselves in the time-space of distant past.

The ancient walls could speak about the castle’s owners such as Matthew Csák of Trencsén, István Dobó or István Koháry. The last owners were the famous Eszterházy family, later the Schöellers. It was István Dobó who built the prominent Renaissance manor house, around which visitors go to the Captains’ House, which houses the Tekov Museum today.

The Tekov Museum has several expositions. Archaeology, history of pharmacy, history of the castle, guilds and crafts, social life, folk clothing and Ladislav Bielik – 1968. One of the most prominent exhibits, however, is the Celtic treasure, placed in the Treasures of Tekov Museum exposition. As you’ll see, the Levice castle offers many surprises.

The Tour

 The tour of the Tekov Museum begins with the exhibition of artefacts from the most distant past. Visitors find themselves in a room with lit display cases, in which they can admire the skills of people of this region. The archaeological collections contain vessels, weapons, jewellery, and statues made by hands of ancient masters from the Bronze Age, the Roman Period and the Migration Period. The reconstruction of a dwelling with a fireplace reminds us how humanity lived before the onset of civilization. Not only numismatists will be interested in a unique and tastefully organized collection of Roman coins and also copper coins from the Austrian-Hungarian period, left by merchants and residents of these places.

Each room of the museum represents a different world. From the times of the original settlement of the region, visitors move to a stylized armoury. Unlike armouries commonly set-up in castles, this one is clean and lit. Various weapons and an exemplary armour will leave no-one in doubts about people’s diverse ingenuity in arming. The room is dominated by a majestic bust of István Koháry, who was hit by a bullet in summer 1664 during a battle near Levice, in which the Imperial and the Turkish armies clashed. Before he died, he had became famous as a successful warrior and ruler.

The Celtic Treasure

The biggest Celtic treasure was discovered in 1930 by a resident of Levice on a town property called „mrchovište“ (animal cemetery). The Residents of the town used to bury dead animals and later dump construction waste there.

”The labourers, working on a new settlement, discovered one heavy vessel, which they threw aside without interest, because they thought it was a weigh from a lamp. The vessel on the dump was later found by a Gypsy, who paid more attention to his discovery. In a grey vessel with the proportions of an ordinary flowerpot, to his great surprise, he found a large amount of old coins. Since the Gypsy started selling the coins, the police became aware of it and pursuant to the law, they confiscated the find and handed it over to the respectable district court … The police got hold of 150 pieces of silver coins and 5 pieces of gold coins from the Levice find. According to an expert on numismatology, both types of coins are categorized by numismatists as having “barbarian” origin and the site of their discovery certainly deserves attention and is worth exploring.”

The first information about the find in the regional weekly magazine Bars from October 19, 1930.

Numismatists can recognize the Levice Celtic treasure easily – all silver tetradrachms have a vertically positioned wedge sharply driven under the belly of the horse at the core of the coin.

“The Celts were not only good craftsmen, but also skilled falsifiers. They could silver-plate or gold-plate a common little bronze disc and pass it for a genuine coin. This deep incision proved that the whole coin is made of silver and is therefore genuine,” says Peter Pleva, a historian from the Tekov Museum.

The Pharmacy

Not only history lovers will cheer up after entering a replica of an ancient pharmacy. Pedantically polished shelves, drawers, ampoules, scales, flasks, bottles, jars, distillation apparatus, till and the whole interior create the impression that mister pharmacist nipped out for a spirit or herbs and is coming back soon to serve curious customers. As they leave, they can check one more time if something doesn’t drop from the distillation apparatus after all – but no – so we move further through nicely heated, bright rooms. Secrets of townspeople’s houses and guilds await us. Maybe ladies listening to a beautiful gramophone with fairy-tale -like loudspeaker used to go for their medicine to the very pharmacy we have just left.

How People Lived and Worked

The exposition testifies that towns were inhabited by people who improved their dwellings by upholstered furniture, impressive clocks, and elegant porcelain services. The walls weren’t short of pictures and mirrors, chests of drawers of tablecloths and silver candleholders.

The craftsmen, organized into traditional guilds, lived more modestly. However, the remains of their clay vessels provide a more enjoyable sight for lovers of the past than the Celtic treasure. If you have a soft spot for clay moulds, pots, jugs or plates, it might be a shame for you that they are safely placed behind a glass display case. They are certainly perfectly functional!

Apart from the pottery collection, visitors can also admire collections of folk clothing and fabrics, jewellery, various practical and decorative products from withe, straw and corn leaves. The exhibition also includes a collection of farming equipment and folk furniture.

The craftsmen’s skill is also represented by examples of traditional tools and papers which all guild members had to have, be their craft blue print, button production or other. When visitors tear themselves away from craftsmen’s and townspeople’s idyll, they enter another story.

Year 1968

Visitors will be amazed by an over life-size replica of a celluloid film. Rectangle after rectangle the story unfolds. Everyone who lived or grew in Czechoslovakia probably knows it. Ladislav Bielik, a native of Levice, documented among other things also the famous moment when a person, a man, helplessly tore his shirt and stood in front of a Russian tank with his bare chest. The photograph went around the world, the story of its protagonists was a bit different, less famous, less visible.

Rectangle after rectangle the story unfolds, telling of frowning soldiers, telling of boys in uniforms crawling out of tanks. Telling of men drawing weapons one by one. Telling of something unbelievable and yet real happening on the street in broad daylight.

The pages of period newspapers, also over life-size, offer the opportunity to visitors to read declarations of politicians, both our and foreign. In this austere room, visitors can spend more time than expected in silence and meditation.

A Village Is a Good, Healthy Place

The weight of political decadence wears off at the entrance to the exposition with the exhibition of folk clothing and jewellery. The famous Tekov folk costume with an opulent bonnet, which is placed on a leather cap resembling lining reminds visitors of scenes from the famous Feather Fairy. Who can remember today that the width of the ribbons, with which the girls bound the gathered sleeves of the blouse, spoke of their wealth, as did the number of skirts they wore?

Apart from collections of artefacts, the historical information is supplied also by photographs depicting various life situations.

Not Only In the Past, But Also Today

The Tekov Museum and the Levice Castle are also a nice place for contemporary people. The concert hall and the concerts attract music lovers; the amphitheatre comes alive with music and movie atmosphere during summer months. The Tekov Museum actively participates in the life of the region by informing about events such as exhibitions and markets in Levice and the Tekov Region. If you would like to know what you can do during a visit to Levice after seeing the museum, ask the willing guides who accompanied you during the tour. And don’t forget to mint a coin for luck and as a keepsake.

Would you like to visit the Tekov Museum? Adult entry fee is 2 Euros, children and pensioners pay half the price. The opening hours are from 9AM to 4PM, from June to September to 6PM during workdays as well as weekends.