In the meantime, I'll leave you with some photos taken in mid-January of Fiľakovo, a small town and medieval castle not far from Lučenec and where Terezia's parents live in the south-central part of the country, close to the Hungarian border. The castle was, in typical Slovak fashion, closed when we went. It's actually closed from late November to late March, so we didn't get the chance to go in and walk around and check out what must undoubtedly be a sweet view.
It's a bit of a run-down looking town, although the dreary, grey, soggy skies did nothing to help the town's overall appearance. I suspect there's a fair amount of unemployment here. Part of its small historical center is in pretty good shape, while a sizable portion of it consists of these beautiful but very dilapidated old houses that appear to be inhabited primarily by the town's Roma population.
The street that leads to the entrance is a nice, old cobblestone lane lined with 1-2 story historical buildings that were perhaps restored a bit overzealously. If you continue down this road, however, just past the entrance, it suddenly becomes a muddy dirt road, and you start seeing once-lovely historical houses, many of which now have broken windows, large cracks in the walls, and blue tarps slung over the roofs. Threadbare dogs roam freely in the streets; gaggles of kids run around screaming in the distance.
Stark Soviet-era panelaks encircle the historical center, and these seem to be where most of the town's inhabitants live.
The castle itself dates from the 1200s, although the Ottomans burned it down in the late 1600s, so what we see today is apparently a reconstruction (at least the wooden parts).
Walking around the rear of the castle offers views of the beautiful and massive outcropping that the castle was built on, which features some stunningly gorgeous rock layers.
You get some pretty attractive views of the castle from virtually every street in the center of town. Maybe we'll go back someday during the 8 months of the year that it's open and go inside.