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Orava Castle is the name of a castle situated on a high rock, which was constructed in the 13th century. It is considered to be one of the most interesting castles in Slovakia. Many scenes of the 1922 film Nosferatu were filmed here, although until recently it was thought to have been shot in Transylvania.

The natural rock formation known as "castle cliff" – a limy spur 112 meters (367 ft) high, surrounded by the Orava River and its right tributary stream Racova – has been inhabited since primeval times. During its history a wooden rampart became a strong walled castle of which the first written record dates back to 1267. At that time only the ground floor was built of stone, while the upper floors were made of wood.

In 1370 as part of the Hungarian Kingdom the castle became the center of Árva county. A tetrahedral multi-story towerntury was built here in the 14th century, probably on older foundations, as a donjon - the place of "last defense" within the castle. After 1474, King Matthew gave orders to build a square and a residence-wing in the Middle Castle. The buildings were situated in front of the castle. In 1534 John of Dubovec obtained the castle and became head of the county. He started to rebuild the castle and to make new fortifications. He ordered the building of a half-round tower in the Upper Castle that in 1539 was followed by two large round fortifications for cannons in the Middle Castle. The middle platform was also configured for cannon firing. In the years 1539 - 1543 John of Dubovec built a five-story palace in the empty space between the tower and the stone wall of the Upper Castle. The Turkish threat was the reason for building these new fortifications. A new gate with a ditch and drawbridge in the Lower Castle was completed in 1543. The Tower of the Archives was built against the castle walls.

At the turn of the twentieth century, the castle became severely run down. Joseph Pálffy organized major repairs. Walls were fortified with iron bars in the area of the third gate and in the tunnel. Pálffy also set himself the task of restoring the interior. Some rooms received wooden tiles and period-style furnishing. In the Knights' Room Joseph Pálffy had wall paintings restored and completed by the German painter Maximilian Mann from Munich. After the Second World War Orava Castle was again generously renovated, and it was declared a national cultural monument in 1953.

Orava is now recognized as one of Slovakia's 21 tourist regions, however, it isn't an administrative region unlike its predecessor. In Slovakia, Orava is divided between Dolný Kubín, Tvrdošín, and Námestovo districts in the Žilina Region. It has an area of 1,661 km², with the population on the Slovak side around 126,000. The village of Oravská Polhora is the northernmost point of Slovakia. The major town on the Slovak side and also the seat of the former county is Dolný Kubín. The Polish part of Orava belongs to the Lesser Poland Voivodeship, to the Nowy Targ County, with the main city of the Polish side being Jabłonka.

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