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Borl castle

Georg Mattheus Vischer, 1681

(Borl, Bornel, Borlin, Borlyn, Bornyl, Barnyl, Bornil, Ankenstein, Anchenstain, Anckhenstein, Onchenstayn)

  • In old Slovak language, the word Borl means convex cliff. 
  • The German name Ankenstein is supposedly derived from the words “anken” – anchor and “stein” rock. The first known owners also have a depiction of an anchor in their coat of arms. According to another theory, it is derived from the old German word “anke”, which means a sharp-pointed thing. 
  • The Hungarian name Borlyn is said to mean a river crossing.


  • Country: Slovenia
  • Province: Styria
  • Municipality: Cirkulane
  • Settlement: Dolane
  • Coordinates: 46.37477, 16.00285

Coat of arms of the municipality of Cirkulane

Coat of arms of the Styrian province


  • It is assumed that on the site of today’s castle, previously stood the Roman fort “Castel”. In the immediate vicinity of the castle stood, the Roman station “Remista” and below it the Roman Bridge, which connected the road “Poetovio – Siscia” over the river Drava. The fortress strategically protected access to the city “Poetovio” (Ptuj), at that time the most important Roman city in the area of present-day Slovenia in Lower Pannonia. 
  • In the first half of the 10th century. the region was conquered by the Ogres (Hungarians).

Hungarian horseman in the 10th century.

  • Borl Castle is said to have been built by the Hungarians as early as the 12th century. At the beginning of the same century, the area belonged to the badly devastated region of Mark “March, Marchia”. 
  • The biographer of Salzburg Archbishop Konrad I Abensberg (1106–1147) reports daily looting and destruction by both hostile sides. The report also mentions several farms that were abandoned because in some places the population was exterminated during the war.

Salzburg Archbishop Konrad I Abensberg with his coat of arms

  • In 1127, the Salzburg-Hungarian Peace was concluded between Archbishop Konrad I and Hungarian King Stefan II., but Hungarian incursions by smaller border units continued.

King Stephen II of Hungary

  • In 1131, a new, firmer peace was concluded between Archbishop Konrad I of Salzburg and King Bela II of Hungary. Despite the peace, Konrad I began to strongly fortify his border estates, especially Ptuj Castle. At that time, Borl Castle still belonged to Hungary, as the Drava River divided the Salzburg Left and Hungarian Right estates.

King Bela II. of Hungary

  • In 1160, the situation took a turn for the worse for the Hungarians, as Frederick II. from Ptuj attacked the Hungarian territory with such success that even the Hungarian king Geza II. complained to the Archbishop of Salzburg, Eberhard I. from Biburg. 
  • In 1199, Frederick III. from Ptuj snatched the territory of city Ormož from the Hungarians and lords of Dravinja the castle of Borl. From this information, it is assumed that the castle was already standing at that time. Historian Jože Curk is also of the opinion that the castle stood at least in the 12th century. 
  • King Bela IV of Hungary granted between 1254 and 1261, Borl castle as a fiefdom to the lords of Ptuj. Borl castle is mentioned for the first time in written records as “Anchelstein” in the mentioned regest from 1245, but it is assumed that the year on the document is written incorrectly and it is actually 1255, and as such it is also officially accepted as the first mention of the castle. Today’s castle does not contain elements from before the 13th century.

Attempted reconstruction of Borl Castle in the 13th century.

  • In 1258, the Borl castle is mentioned in the Austrian rhyming chronicle of Otokar of Gaal, when the Styrian nobility rebelled against the Hungarian authorities. On the field near the castle of Borl, a decisive clash took place between Frederick V. of Ptuj and the Hungarian army led by the son of the Hungarian king Bela IV. Stefan. Stefan was almost caught while escaping to the Croatian side. Probably in the same year, Stefan returned with a new army with which he besieged Ptuj and crushed the Styrian rebellion.

Seal of King Stephen IV.

  • In 1259, the Styrian nobility allied itself with the Czech king Otokar II. and together they defeated the Hungarians at the city of Kroissenbrunn. After a truce concluded in 1260, the Hungarians had to give up the Duchy of Styria for good in 1261.
  •  In 1291, the Hungarians demanded the castle and lordship of Borl back, which led to new unsuccessful clashes. 
  • In 1294, the lords of Ptuj took over the coat of arms of the lords of Dravinja at Borl castle. The coat of arms depicts a silver anchor on a red field. A mighty tower with a walled courtyard was also built during this period. 
  • In 1308 the Borl castle is mentioned as Onchenstayn. 
  • In the first half of the 14th century, a mention is made of Fricl of Borl “Friczel von Ancherstain”, the first known person who resided at Borl castle. 
  • In 1323, after the death of Frederick from Borl, this line of the family died out. 
  • In 1335, the Borl castle was mentioned for the first time as the castle “Anchanstain oder Bornel vest”. 
  • In 1337, there was another dispute regarding Borl Castle between Styrian Duke Albrecht II. and to the Hungarian king Charles I. The king demanded the return of the castle because it stood on Hungarian territory and was ready to give Schwarzenbach castle in exchange. 
  • In 1412 Borl Castle is mentioned as “Ankelstein”. 
  • In 1438, after the death of Frederick IX. of Ptuj and with the extinction of this powerful family, several years of litigation began over the inheritance of the Borl castle and estate.

Tombstone of Frederick IX. of Ptuj, approx. 1438

  • In 1446, the Hungarian army under the command of Johann Hunyadi invaded Styria. Borl castle was almost certainly conquered and damaged in the new clashes.

Johann Hunyadi

  •  In 1481, the army of the Hungarian king under the command of Willhelm Tettauer suddenly captured and destroyed the castle Borl.
  •  In 1487, commander Jacob Szekely clashed with the sons of the former commander of mighty Celje, Johann Witowec, and took the castles of Varaždin, Krapina, and Trakoščan from them, and even captured one of the brothers, Yuri. In gratitude, in 1488 the Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus granted him Borl castle as a freehold. After the death of King Matthias Corvinus, Jacob Szekely fell out with the new Hungarian prince Ivan Corvinus, switched sides, and handed over all his estates to Emperor Frederick III. This action triggered a new conflict in which the Hungarians captured Borl castle, but had to leave the ruined castle after fierce fighting. Emperor Frederick awarded Commander Jacob and all his relatives with the title of baron for switching sides. Due to constant battles, the castle bergfried was further fortified over the centuries until it reached its current thickness of 12.5 m, which is the thickest of all castles in Slovenia, possibly even in Europe.

Jacob Szekely

  • In 1532, the owner of Borl Castle, Luke Szekely, greatly enlarged the estate, making it one of the most powerful in the Styria region. 
  • In 1542, Borl castle was valued at 800 guilders. 
  • In 1595, Yuri from Stubenberg assessed the Borl lordship at 4,000 guilders. The castle was partially demolished and in extremely poor condition.
  • In 1674, Count Yuri Frederik and his wife Maria Barbara built a new castle church in the nave part of the castle. 
  • In 1705, the castle burned down. 
  • On a map from the second half of the 18th century, gallows are marked south of the village of Dolane at the castle Borl. Today on the location of the gallows stands a factory. 
  • On December 24, 1818, the castle priest Fleury, who was single-handedly credited with planting the orchard and the English park, dies. 
  • In 1851, in his description of the castle, the curate of Ptuj, Simon Povoden, states that the castle once had a defensive moat with a drawbridge, three courtyards, a cistern, and a looted armory in which no weapons are left. Traces of casemates, prisons, and the provincial court have been preserved. There were also underground corridors at Borl, as evidenced by the deep rock cellars. The knight’s hall once housed portraits of 81 members of the Sauer family, but vandals looted them all. 
  • From the beginning of the 20th century. the castle gradually fell into disrepair over a long period of time. 
  • In 1941, the Gestapo arranged a prison and a concentration camp for Slovenians in the castle. In the same year, they burned Vernik’s mill under the castle. During the occupation, a guard station was at the castle to control the crossing over the Drava River.

Borl Castle as a resettlement camp during the German occupation in 1941

  • In 1951, the head of the Roman emperor Lucius Aurelius Verus was found in the rubble near the bridge. Analysis of the head showed that it is a copy from the 18th century. In the same year, the renovation of the castle began.

Portrait of Lucius Aurelius Verus found at Borl

  • Leta 1982 je zavod SR Slovenije za varstvo naravne in kulturne dediščine pričel s sanacijo gradu, katera so potekala do leta 1990.
  • In 1982, the Institute of the Slovenian Republic for the Protection of Natural and Cultural Heritage began repairing of the castle, which continued until 1990.


Georg Mattheus Vischer, 1681

Carl Reichert, 1864

Griesbach, Đuro, 1950-1960

Photo from the estate of Fran Ksaver Mešk, 1955-1959

Cegnar Vladimir, 1951-1955

Griesbach, Đuro, 1960-1969

An attempt at 3D reconstruction

An attempt at a 3D reconstruction of Borl Castle in the 13th century was drawn by Rekonstrukcije Slovenskih Gradov.

The owners

  • Hungarians.
  •  Lords of Dravinja. 
  • Lords of Ptuj.
  •  First half of the 14th century: Fricl from Borl “Friczel von Ancherstain”.
  •  1441: Countess Anna Schaunberg. 
  • 1446: Ivan Hunyadi (not proven). 
  • 1451: Steward of the estate of the nobleman Ivan Rat. 
  • 1464: Anna’s son Ulrik of Schaunberg exchanges the Borl estate with Count Janez of Montfort-Bregen. 
  • After 1464: In the banner of Bernard Griebinger, the steward of Limbus.
  •  1478: Widow Veronika, born Breuner (wife of Bernard Griebinger). 
  • 1478: Emperor Frederick III. 
  • 1480: Steward Bernard Breuner (Veronica’s brother). 
  • 1482: Matthias Corvinus, king of Hungary, pledges the ruined castle to William Tettauer. 
  • 1488: Matthias Corvinus, king of Hungary, grants the castle freehold to Jacob Szekely. 
  • 1504: Nicholas Szekely (brother of Jacob Szekely). 
  • 1524: Luka Szekely (son of Nicholas). 
  • 1574: James II. Szekely. 
  • 1583: Guardian Baron Sigmund Herberstein and Maximilian noble Khuenburg. 
  • 1587: Yuri Szekely. 
  • ?: Karel and Nicholas Szekely. 
  • ?: Count Henric Ludvik Thurn. 
  • 1639: Baron Ivan Karl Sauer. 
  • 1656: Count Yuri Friderik (grandson of Ivan Karl Sauer) and his wife Countess Mari Barbara, born Traurmannsdorf. 
  • 1705: Countess Maria Ana (? Count Franz Anton Sauer). 
  • ?: Count Vincent Sauer. 
  • 1801: Prince Stanislav Poniatowski. 
  • 1803: Countess Maria Viljemina Leslie. 
  • 1843: Count Ferdinand Wurmbrand – Stuppach (nephew of Countess Maria Viljemina Leslie).

Seal of Frederick III. of Ptuj, 1197.

Coat of arms of Frederick V. of Ptuj, 1288.

Seal of Herdegn I of Ptuj, 1321.

Seal of Agnes Stubenberg (sister of Frederick IX of Ptuj), 1442.

Seal of Anne Schaunberg (sister of Frederick IX of Ptuj), 1441.

Coat of arms of noble Szekely

Coat of arms of noble Szekely

Coat of arms of noble Szekely

Coat of arms of the Sauer Counts, 1830

Coat of arms

  • The first known coat of arms that was used at Borl castle was used by the Dravinj lords in the 12th century. In 1294, a branch of the lords from Ptuj took over the coat of arms of the Dravinj family and the castle Borl.

A silver anchor is depicted on a red Late Gothic shield with a point. 

Heraldic symbols: 

  • The anchor symbolizes hope and religious strength. 


  • Silver Metallic Tincture: Pearl purity, purity, innocence, wisdom, and joy.
  • Red Tincture: Ruby, Law, Strength, Courage, Dignity, and Love.











  • France Stele: Zbirka zapiskov: 1926, 1929, 1931.
  • Grad Borl: Arheološke raziskave, 2019.
  • Grad Borl: Gradbenozgodovinski oris in prispevek k zgodovini rodbine Sauer, 2010.
  • Novice DgB, 2017.
  • Društvo za oživitev gradu Borl: Borl v 20. stol., 2020.
  • Győző Somogyi: The Army of The Árpád Dynasty 896-1301, 2017.


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